As the boarders between states are opening up it’s only natural that a traveller like me would jump on the first flight available to anywhere. For those lucky enough to call Queensland home you might know of a little place called Coolangatta where every year around this time is the vintage festival known as Cooly Rocks On. After first attending Cooly Rocks On in 2019 (and ironically, I was very ill during the time so I spent most of it in bed with a fever before finally returning back to Brisbane to go to hospital), I was keen to return and fully experience the weekend and all it’s amazing vintage festivities without wanting to pass out every ten steps. Unfortunately last year it was cancelled due to Covid but sure enough, it was back for 2021 and not even wild mustangs could keep me away this year.
Cooly Rocks On is a vintage celebration festival spanning over 5 days featuring live music, entertainment, pageants, more vintage cars than you actually have time to look at, food, fashion and so much more. It really is a wonderful celebration of nostalgia and all things vintage whilst remaining a positive, fun family-friendly event. With early morning markets and dancing till late, it really is more fun than your body has room for. It’s slowly becoming one of my favourite vintage events that I am now looking forward to every year and you better believe I’m already excited for next years event. I am so grateful to have the opportunity to even fly over East for this years event, especially with how fragile travel around Australia is at the moment. I definitely took. chance by planning my trip but it was all completely worth it. Oh and of course I entered the Miss Cooly Rocks On Pageant!
I rolled into Coolangatta (about an hour and a bit’s drive from Brisbane) on Wednesday which, if you get the chance, is a great idea as it’s less crowded, you can peruse the markets without every stall being packed, you get first dibs on all sizes before they are sold out and it’s nice to just take it all in calmly. Coolangatta itself is a really interesting place to visit; it straddles the stateline between Queensland and New South Wales so you’ll need to hop the boarder a few times even just to get some groceries which is a pretty interesting concept for those that aren’t used to it. A particular highlight of the town is the Pink Hotel (oh my gosh I want to stay there so badly one night) and of course the beautiful beaches. From the beach, you can see the whole of the Gold Coast with it’s own stunning sky scrapers and towers, at sunset it really is a beautiful view.
On the Thursday night, The Coolangatta Hotel right on the main strip hosted the 2021 Miss Rockabilly pageant. Oh my giddy golly gosh what a tough competition it was! Every single contestant did such an amazing job with so much wonderful fashion and styling moments, talents and fun. I particularly loved the talent portion which showcased swing dancing, whip cracking, fan dancing and a wrestling demonstration. The evening portion of course highlighted so many spectacular gowns which all stunned the audience. I really had no idea who would place and was holding my breath right up to the last announcement. A huge congratulations to Miss Cherry Red who was crowned Miss Rockabilly 2021 and the stunning runner up, Miss Vena Cava.
The following afternoon, at the Elvis Precinct, was the Miss Cooly Rocks On Pageant which yours truly was a part of. Let me start by saying, there has never been a kinder, sweeter, more supportive group of girls to even be in a single pageant. Everyone was so kind, understanding and just genuinely positive to be around. Even though many had never done a pageant before, we were all on the same level which made for a very tough competition and some very exciting viewing for the audience and judges. I really loved the time back stage getting to know the girls, share stories, joke and laugh loudly but also help each other get through nerves, self doubt and some huge personal triumphs (you know who you are and I am still so proud of you!). On stage, there was so much charm, amazing vintage fashions, huge talents and loads of fun. Much like the night before, the talent portion hosted many wonderful acts including pole fitness, pizza making, ballet, singing and sewing. I had done pageants with some of these girls before and it was truly inspiring to see how far we’ve all come and how much we have all grown and flourished.
Not wanted to go into too much detail, for me the pageant was an absolute blast but also really nerve wracking. It has been a while since I’ve done a pageant, especially one this big and intense. I wanted to make people laugh, bring forth a few surprises and most of all, have fun on stage. A big shout out to Beata from Chein Noir Dezines for making my day wear dress and talent costume, as well as helping me fix up my vintage gown for the evening round. I cannot wait to share photos once we receive them from the event itself. Another special shout out to my bestie back at home for putting up with my frantic texting as I was having a mini freakout (you know, usual pageant stuff).
A special shoutout and a huge thank you goes to Miss Chrissy of The Lindy Charm School, her partner Ray and of course our wonderful stage kittens who did an amazing job setting up our props, clearing the stage and keeping us calm and relaxed back stage. Another shout of to all the judges from both pageants and of course the Gold Coast Tourism board who sponsored the pageant. I bet you want to know the results right? Well I am excited to announce that this years winner of the 2021 Miss Cooly Rocks On pageant was Miss Curly Sue and yours truly took home the runner up title. I was so excited that when they called my name I didn’t know what to do and think I just froze for a second.
After the pageant, I inhaled about three days worth of carbs and went to drop off my pageant stuff before quickly getting changed for the Swing Ball. I sat on the couch whilst waiting for my kettle to boil and before I knew it, I was fast asleep and slept through the whole ball. Typical MonMon. Well, that was me for another day, another pageant and another go at the Miss Cooly Rocks On title. I couldn’t be happier for Miss Curly Sue who is truely a beautiful person inside and out, I’m really happy to have gotten to know her (and her partner) over the weekend.
The next morning it was up bright and early (ok it was still dark at 5:30am so not really that bright) to get ready for a media call. And the media never showed up, so instead of getting upset, we did our own little winners photoshoot and then got a huge greasy breakfast at the vintage inspired diner just down the road. Spending the morning with the girls was a huge weekend highlight for me as I really got to know the girls better, it really is the connections you make with people that make such events worth while.
The rest of the weekend was spent looking at vintage cars, eating delicious food, swing dancing, enjoying live music (you rock Shelley Minson) and a bit more market shopping. I really loved seeing so many small businesses sharing their love of vintage, retro and rockabilly. It was a joy to see so many people flourishing especially after the pandemic. Some stall highlights for me included Kiki Tiki where I bought the cutest little playsuit (you know, perfect for winter), Oh Hey Lovely who sold the best range of resin earrings (I came home with two pairs including one to match my new playsuit), and Nicole Jade Boutique where I picked up the perfect pair of navy pinup heels.
As well as stalls, Coolangatta itself had some wonderful op shops and vintage stores which were jam packed with the most wonderful treasures and it took everything in me not to buy a 1950s washing machine … I don’t even know how I would have gotten it home to be honest! A special mention to a popup shop on Griffiths street which featured some of my favourite small retro businesses including Remember When, Susan Jane Jewellery, Bluebelle Vintage Clothing, and Lennys Custom Clothing. There were so many treasures to find here as well as a chance to catch up with the wonderful business owners which I hadn’t seen in quite a while.
I hope to in the next week or so, film a vintage and retro shopping haul which will feature the amazing vintage treasures I picked up from Cooly Rocks On and of course, the day or so I spent in Brisbane itself so keep an eye out for that.
With the pandemic slowly shifting further away from our lives, it’s trips like these that remind me just how lucky we are in this country. To be able to get back on our feet after such a crazy year, we are slowly returning back to way things were. Sure, Victoria was in lockdown during the event but it just means that next year the event will be bigger than ever which makes it all the more exciting. After the music had been turned off on that final Sunday, we all started making plans to go home. For me, I still had two days in Brisbane which meant I could relax, enjoy some shopping and eat as much as possible because I no longer had to worry about fitting my vintage gown. This was a wonderful trip and I cannot wait for the next one. Cooly Rocks On has really put the love of pinup, pageants and travel back into my life and I cannot wait to see where my next adventure is.
Note: This is not a sponsored post. All opinions and thoughts expressed are solely my own and not influenced in any way. There are no affiliate links and I do not benefit from any link clicks or purchases made.