Leading Gold Coast rock 'n' roll band Catfish & The Dee-Jays were the headline act at the Festival; the band's drummer Johnny Purser was originally the drummer for Australia's very own rock 'n' roll legend Johnny O'Keefe

October 21, 2012

Organisers of Nanango’s new Waterhole Rocks festival are so happy with the public’s reaction they’re already planning its second outing next year.

The new event is devoted to all things associated with 1950s-60s rock’n’roll, including music and dancing, clothing, hot rods, vintage caravans and custom cars.

This year’s festival was put together by the Nanango Show Society, the South Burnett Gas Guzzlers, Rods & Customs Club and local entertainer Bobby Ricks, and they all said they were very pleased with the turnout.

More than 72 caravans booked into the showgrounds for the weekend, approximately double the number the now-famous Nanango Country Music Muster drew when it began there a decade ago. The total attendance over the three days was higher than the Muster’s first year, too.

Organisers are taking these numbers as a good sign that there’s a genuine market for the quirky, off-beat event that can be built on as time goes by.

Nanango Show Society president Les Schloss said the Festival’s name had come about because of a desire not to cause any confusion with other festivals that run at the showgrounds.

“Nanango means ‘The Waterhole’,” he said. “So we thought it would be a good name to use because it would clearly separate this event from the Nanango Country Music Muster, which we hold every September, and Boots’n’Bulldust which now runs at the showground on the new October long weekend.”

Entertainment for Waterhole Rocks’ three days was provided by a mix of local performers and “imported acts” from Maryborough and the Gold Coast.

Well-known South Burnett rock’n’roll performer Jeff Hancox shared the stage with local singer Natalie Fenton on Friday and Debbie Robertson from Maryborough on Saturday. He also performed several solo slots over both days.

Tina and Joe from Pobblebonk also performed several sets, while well-known local entertainer Bobby Ricks manned the “morning shift” on Saturday and Sunday and acted as the Festival’s emcee.

Sunshine Coast rockabilly band The Atomic Cruisers also performed several energetic sets over the weekend, while the Festival’s headline act, Catfish & The Dee-Jays – widely regarded as the Gold Coast’s premier rock’n’roll band – took centre stage on Saturday night.

Patrons came from all parts of the South Burnett, but many others travelled up from Brisbane, the Sunshine Coast, the Gold Coast and Murwillumbah – either for a day or for the entire weekend.

In addition to three days of almost non-stop musical entertainment, there were market stalls offering everything from rock’n’roll clothing to bric-a-brac and memorabilia; a small but high-quality display of hot rods and meticulously restored custom cars and caravans; and even dance lessons available in one of the showground’s main pavilions.

The showground’s canteen and bar workers were kept busy serving snacks, meals and drinks from breakfast through to late evening, while out on the main oval motoring enthusiasts put on a some very entertaining driving games on Saturday afternoon that aren’t often seen outside the confines of car club shows.

Ray Bathurst, from Bracken Ridge, drove his immaculately restored 1946 Buick Super 8 convertible to the Festival; it's one of only four left in the world and features an unusual bonnet that can be opened from either side
Hot rod enthusiasts Sue Newey and Chris Reckow travelled from Brisbane with their husbands and two hand-crafted caravans built to a 1950s design; the compact vans fit on normal trailers but are surprisingly roomy and a have a full kitchenette at the rear

Freak Thunderstorm
Damages Showground Shade Sails

A mini-thunderstorm which struck Nanango at 6:00pm on Saturday damaged two of the showground’s main shade sails and blew away the awning over the ticket stand at the front gate but failed to dampen the enthusiasm of Waterhole Rocks patrons.

The storm followed a hot day and came on with little warning.

Onlookers reported high gusts of wind and rain that was coming down “almost horizontally” during the storm’s height.

The worst of the storm appeared to be localised to Nanango’s CBD area.

While the roads around the Showground and adjoining streets were still wet at 6:30pm, roads as close as the highway outside the Copper Country Motel to the north and the D’Aguilar Highway to the south of the CBD were dry.

No other damage from the storm was reported.

Les Pearce and Teresa Foote travelled from Murwillumbah for the festival to cut loose on the dance floor
Festival organisers cut a special cake to celebrate the success of The Waterhole Rocks festival's first outing at the weekend: Bobby Ricks, Barry and Gloria Fleming, Robin and Les Schloss and Rhonda and Terry Mackrell
One unusual feature of the Festival was rock 'n' roll dance classes in the showground's main pavilion; these were provided by John and Beris Thomae from Hervey Bay's Rock On Social Dance Group, shown above with keen students Owen Johnston and Donna McLean, (middle), and Marc and Karen Davis, (right)
Some Festival-goers dressed in rock 'n' roll gear
Tina and Joe from Pobblebonk and guitarist Pedro entertained the crowd
A fun part of the festival was "driving games" on the main oval ... Ray and Carol Herbert, from Brisbane, took part in the wine glass challenge, with Carol trying to spill as little as possible from two full glasses of water while Ray drove around the course; later, they tried it blind-folded ...
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