Rumble in Rocko: South Perth’s proud automotive culture that welcomes women

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The thunder of a powerful engine once again trips the premier of WA, who is battling to deliver a significant COVID-19 update against a revving rumble.

“Why the hell did they do that [press conference] in Rockingham ?! ”, commented by some of the thousands who have listened to ABC’s live Facebook feed from hometown reporter Mark McGowan.

For many, the moans and growls of swollen cars making bog rides past the Prime Minister’s Electorate Office have become a fun side spectacle of what is usually bad news.

“It was us once! laughs Aneira May, the organizer of a local car meetup, Rumble in Rocko.

“We walked past and I just gave a little beep as we passed.”

Aneira May is the organizer of the Rumble in Rocko car club in Rockingham.(

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No matter what day of the week you visit Rockingham, it’s impossible not to notice the coastal city’s enthusiastic automotive culture.

It’s strong, it’s proud and it’s in your face.

“There have always been some great cars at Rockingham,” says Ms. May.

“If you sit on the Rockingham foreshore and have coffee in the morning, you’ll see all the great steel bumpers go past you. It’s awesome.”

An aerial view of a residential neighborhood based on a bay at dusk
Rockingham is a seaside town about 50 kilometers south of Perth.(

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A few hundred people braved a cold winter Saturday night to park their valuables in an empty parking lot in Rockingham CBD.

“It’s just a good opportunity for everyone to come together in one place and enjoy everyone’s rides,” Ms. May said.

“We just thought about doing something and seeing if people would show up and yes it got pretty popular.”

A close up of a car engine coming out of its hood
Stephen Anderson’s 1957 Chevrolet “Chariot” is a big draw.(

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The biggest whim of the night is a 1957 Chevrolet with its engine sticking out of the hood.

“It’s a bit of a work in progress,” says owner Stephen Anderson.

“It’s just a bottle shop car as a lot of people call it. We just drive it to the servo, you know, let’s go to the bottle.

“There is a lot of love and blood, sweat and tears that went into it.”

Women fuel Rocko car culture

The fact that the Rumble in Rocko squad has a decent number of participants sets them apart from the stereotypical auto club.

“It’s definitely the perception that cars and mechanical work and all that stuff is a guy’s world,” says Jess, who owns a 40-year-old Holden WB with the HER1980WB badge.

“Everyone reads your license plate and says, ‘Oh really? Does a girl own this? No way ! And I’m like, well, yeah.

A woman in a beanie stands in front of a yellow ute
Jess says some people are surprised when they find out what she’s driving.(

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“I guess it’s just a generational kind of thing. You know, the mechanics – they’re all guys.

“Normally you don’t see a chick going into one of these kinds of professions.

Jess’s father is a mechanic and his love for Australian cars grew from a young age.

“Girls can do anything guys can do and we can definitely get under the hood and do the work we need on our cars,” she said.

Girl and older man examine a car engine
The Rumble in Rocko event attracts car enthusiasts of all ages.(

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Sharon Patterson drove her Mustang, named Sally of course, 35 kilometers from Mandurah to watch the competition.

“I’m in an auto club and more and more women are joining all the time, which is great,” she says.

A woman sitting on the left side of the driver of her car
Sharon Patterson says auto meetups have become more inclusive places for women.(

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“There are also more women in dates like this now, whereas before that [was mainly men].

“I think we better recognize that there are more women involved in cars.”

Rockingham’s bad rap undeserved

Ms. May says the perception that people with hot cars are hoons is an overly simplistic generalization.

“[What] we just want to respect everyone’s cars and respect the road as well, ”she said.

“We don’t want any unwanted presence here.

“There is a lot of respect for other people’s rides.”

Woman wearing Rumble in Rocko hoodie talks to man in black jacket
The Rumble in Rocko team hosts events almost every week.(

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“Rockingham has a bad reputation,” Jess said.

“You hear all the bad stories, but you can’t necessarily see all of it and see the good behind it.

“We’re not here to be absolute idiots, we’re here to appreciate the work we’ve put into it.”

A sign showing the direction of Rockingham on Perth's Kwinana Freeway
59 classic cars are registered at Rockingham.(

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Western Australia has a fondness for hot cars.

There are over 10,000 classic and vintage cars registered in the state.

Meanwhile, 28,000 personalized license plates were issued in WA last year.

The best-selling Perth suburbs were Baldivis, Canning Vale, Ellenbrook, Osborne Park and Byford as well as Bunbury, Busselton, Collie, Manjimup and Dunsborough in the Washington state area.

He might not be in the top five, but there’s no doubt that Rockingham loves his cars.

Just ask the Prime Minister.



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