Car enthusiasts and holiday makers drawn to Rockhampton for Easter

Published on 31 March 2022

Craig Meston

Fast cars, daring burnouts, street parades and smoke loads of affordable, family-friendly entertainment - all set against a stunning riverside backdrop. It’s not hard to see why the 2022 Rare Spares Rockynats Car and Bike Festival, the largest festival of its kind in the state, is attracting car enthusiasts and family holiday markers from around the country to Rockhampton for the Easter long weekend.

Following the success of the inaugural event in 2021, which was awarded silver in the ‘Festival and Events’ category at the 2021 Queensland Tourism Awards, Advance Rockhampton Executive Manager Greg Bowden says anticipation ahead of the 2022 event has been huge.

“The event was such a big success last year and this year’s program is set to showcase an even bigger and better line-up of cars, bikes and off-track entertainment,” Greg says.

“Tickets have been flying out the door ever since they went on sale and we’ve got entrants and patrons coming from all around Brisbane, the Sunshine Coast and even as far south as Canberra to attend.” 

Brisbane-based burnout driver, Craig Meston, who participated in the inaugural event last year with his 1986 Holden VK Commodore ‘PINKY’, says the Rockhampton event has fast become a one of his favourites.

“Being part of the burnout scene, I’ve been travelling the country for different Summernats events for over 34 years, but there was just something about performing with the river in the background and festival’s great family-friendly atmosphere that makes Rockynats so special,” he explains. 

“I grew up in North Queensland, so I love coming back to regional areas and supporting regional events,” says Craig. “With the whole car scene having been a bit quiet over the past two years thanks to COVID, this year is going to be massive! There’s big-name cars and bikes coming from all over Australia so people will get a chance to see stuff they don’t usually get to see…It’ll be really exciting.”

It’s a sentiment that’s being widely echoed throughout the automotive community with fellow Brisbane-based Elite entrant, Billy Shelton, also looking forward to returning to the Central Queensland event. 

“We had such a great time at Rockynats last year that it’s become a staple on the calendar for us,” says Billy, who also travels to compete in other Summernats events throughout the year. “The other big events are in Canberra and Alice Springs so it’s nice to now have a local Queensland-based event to get behind and support.”

“Rockynats has this awesome, laid-back atmosphere that makes it so much fun to be a part of. Everyone bends over backwards to help you in any way possible – from the officials and event organisers to the local shops, hotels, and restaurants. It’s all part of what’s made me so keen to come back,” he elaborates. 

Rockhampton’s sunny, sub-tropical weather and picturesque riverside location also makes an ideal setting for the high-adrenaline outdoor event.

“Rocky is just the perfect spot for it. You’ve got great weather, a beautiful river backdrop and the streets are just packed with mates, mums, dads, kids, and grandparents watching all the action.”

Having successfully unveiled his 1970 VL Commodore at last year’s event, albeit after a COVID lockdown scare that almost prevented him from attending, Billy says Rockynats will always hold a special place in his heart.

“We worked crazy hours to finish the build and then Brisbane was locked down right before the event, so we were unsure if we were even going to be able to go,” he recalls. “It was all a big rush and once we finally got the car unveiled and had a chance to step back and appreciate what we’d achieved, it was a really proud, rewarding moment.”

“Then we were fortunate enough to win ‘Top Engine Bay’, ‘Top Competition’ and Runner Up for ‘Top Paint’ and that was just the icing on the cake.”

When asked for his top pick of events from the festival’s high-octane program, Billy says you can’t go past Friday’s super Street Parade.

“You’ll see over 1000 cars and bikes take over the streets. It’s packed, it’s massive, it’s long…it’s the event everyone’s talking about.”

For those not wanting to miss out on all the action, Advance Rockhampton Executive Manager Greg Bowden assures there’s still plenty of time to purchase your tickets and plan your Rockhampton holiday.

“General Admission and Gold Passes will remain on sale online right up until the event, until sold out,” he says. “A one-day General Admission pass is just $35 and kids under 12 get free entry, making it an affordable holiday outing.”

Rockhampton also has plenty of affordable, local tourist attractions that Rockynats patrons are encouraged to explore during their stay in the region.

“From the Rockhampton Zoo to the Capricorn Caves, Mt Archer and Yeppoon’s beautiful beaches, there really is something for everyone,” Greg says.

Rare Spares Rockynats 02 will be held over the Easter long weekend from April 15-17. Check out the full event program and purchase tickets via the Rockynats website:

The Queensland Government is proud to support the Rockynats Car Festival through Tourism and Events Queensland’s Destination Events Program and it is a feature on the It’s Live! in Queensland events calendar.