East Coast Cruise is kind of a big deal for the minitruckin’ community in Australia, so when numbers began to fall due to the fact that we were pushed from the town where ECC had been held for the last decade, a big major play had to be made. A shortlist of potential sites was formed but one venue stood out like a golden ray of sunshine: The Station, 10 minutes out of Jindabyne in the Snowy Mountains region of NSW, the go to accommodation for snowboarders during the snow season. Contrary to popular conception, it does in fact snow in Australia! However, due to the land down under’s reversed calendar, November is off-season. This meant The Station venue was more than happy to give East Coast Cruise exclusive use of the resort for the weekend. To paint a picture of the venue, let’s start by pointing out that it might as well have been built for minitruckers. It’s a private, self contained venue with cabins, 2 bars, a banquet hall, a grill restaurant, a ‘main street’ and a show ground with catering kiosk. Essentially it is an enthusiast haven and the perfect venue to host this group of misfits.
Photos: Toast Graphics | Words: Jamie Starling & Michael Phillips
The anticipation and excitement at the prospect of a new venue was simply too much for a good deal of folk to handle. A fair number had already begun to arrive on Thursday, two days before the official beginning of the event. The entry sign to the venue was hijacked by a huge ECC logo to make sure not a soul would miss their destination when they turned onto Snowy River Way. After driving through the gates into the venue, now known as “The Compound” the travel weary mini-truckers found home, locked away from the hubbub of society for an entire weekend.
Friday was when The Compound really started to fill up. Clubs were rolling up in convoys from all over Australia, making quite the sight to behold. Severed Ties made the biggest entrance with their line up of show stoppers including Michael ‘Bobbin’ Ellard’s Holden Rodeo known as Severed Ruby, Dan Hokin’s shorty Mazda ‘Jessica’, and Avit ‘Toasty’ Chauhan’s pearl brown dual cab Hilux/Tacoma. The queue of trucks continued to flow into “The Compound” for the remainder of the day and into the night as many onlookers enjoyed the view from the Negative Camber tent on the entry road.
Like any minitruck show, sleep carries a low level of priority on the itinerary. Despite the cold night temps, a handful of parties went down around the cabins on Friday night. As sure as the sun rises there was a line at the car wash at the crack of dawn, where owners conglomerated in masses despite their potential hung-over disposition. As an additional incentive to an early rise, the banquet hall hosted a massive breakfast buffet ready to fuel the participants for the long weekend ahead. The smell of freshly cooked bacon, toast, and coffee permeated through the cabins, calling sleep deprived souls to seize the day.
When people began to make their way to the show ground, they were greeted by the friendly ECC staff, who in reality were cunningly disguised Negative Camber members. This year Tom Palonek of EZ Customs had built a new limbo archway for measuring roof heights using a custom laser distance meter which he developed leading up to ECC. Entrants passed under the limbo, had their roof height measured, received their entrant number, and made their way down to the grass pitch to park their ride. With their varied customs laid-out and basking in the warm sun, entrants began to limber up for a number of annual club games. These are always nervous times for contestants, the games are never kind, and this year was no exception. Starting off with a tuna milk chug relay wearing ladies’ ‘Sunday best’ outfits. Followed by a fiercely competitive musical chairs tournament and finishing off with the favorite, Tug-of-war. Exhausted, covered in tuna and milk, the ROLLOW crew took the trophy for Club Games. As entrants and spectators wrapped up their final laps of viewing the bad ass rides on display the show finished up and everyone moved out to get ready for the big Awards Dinner party.
Party goers were met by Jamie Smith’s bodied F100 ‘Clunker’ and Aaron Gregory’s bodied 1952 Chevy pickup ‘Memphis Hell’ laid-out majestically at the forecourt of the banquet hall. A screen above the main entrance displayed photos from past ECC’s keeping the crowd entertained, while waiting for the hall doors to be opened. The ECC MC’s, Jamie ‘Mega’ Smith and Aaron ‘Maximus’ Gregory kicked festivities off with a surprise introduction of the newest member of ECC fame, the Mayor of ECC, Jim Davies for his services in pushing ECC on social media throughout the year. The ECC Hall of Fame expanded with it’s first double induction, Joel Kilsby and Kerri Duroux, for their services to the scene as the organizers of Wrong Turn Cruise.
The second induction was made to Luke ‘Sheppo’ Sheppard, of No Clearance Minitrucks for his unrelenting dedication and service to the scene. Amongst the 15 custom billet trophies designated, was the coveted Minitruckin’ Marvel. The award this year went to Michael Ellard for ‘Severed Ruby’ and our friends from Arizona, Bobby (RBJ) McCurdy and Rachael Faye were on hand to present the Club Represent trophy to Severed Ties for their stellar effort in showing in full force and with an outstanding lineup of vehicles. The trophies and sponsor giveaways filled up the night before taking the party next door into the bar where DJ Scott Tisco of Zero Altitude was waiting to launch The Compound Soundtrack by DJ Get Low. The afterparty truly set off in no time, largely due to the convenience of no one needing to be behind the wheel until the following day. A massive Jenga war kicked off, paving the way for a a future tradition for ECC, The International JENGA Championships. When the bar closed for the evening the party moved to the Negative Camber tent outside until the flow of beer and apple pie moonshine ran to a trickle. It’s fair to conclude that the new venue was a success and Negative Camber looks forward to hosting at The Compound again for the 15-year anniversary of East Coast Cruise this November.
Many, many thanks from the Slam’d Team to both the participants and hosts of East Coast Cruise and keeping the scene alive down under. We greatly look forward to the show of custom rides and shenanigans that this year’s ECC has in store!