Typically, when most people envision Australia, they picture kangaroos, Foster's Beer, and the Croc Hunter. However, for our weeklong adventure to the outback, there was very little of that and more mini-truckin' fun and hardcore mini-truckers than in most parts of the States. The mini-truck scene is spread out all over the east coast of Australia, and for the past decade it has been growing and getting stronger, without much attention from the U.S. We figured it was about time to bridge the continental gap and put together some of the best mini-truckin' coverage worldwide!

During the weekend of October 28th to the 30th Jamie Starling and a few other Aussie mini-truckers host the largest mini-trucker gathering in Australia, and for the last 3 years it has continued to grow to massive proportions. The show is called the East Coast Cruise, otherwise known as ECC. Mini-truckers come from as far north as Queensland (17 hours north of Sydney) and as far south as Melbourne. The meeting spot was set at the Chopper Shop, just outside of Sydney, for Friday morning with a very early departure at 7 a.m. to our destination in Merimbula. When we arrived at the Chopper Shop we were excited to see well over two dozen mini-truckers waiting for us to hit the road. With a 10-hour drive ahead of us, the sun was shining, and the moment every mini-trucker in Australia had been waiting for was now here.

As the cruise continued south down the coast we met up with another 30+ minitruckers waiting roadside for the convoy to arrive. We spent most of the afternoon drooling over dozens of mini-trucks rolling down the opposite side of the road, and trying to adjust to shooting photos from the passenger side (our driver side). About 6 hours into the trip the Highway Patrol decided to set up a roadblock to catch our entire caravan riding down the freeway. After the officers searched and inspected every vehicle, they issued many "canaries," which would be similar to a citation for us, but far more costly. Once the defect reports and fines had been handed out, the cruise hit the road as we drove threw rolling hills, clear skies, and endless miles of vast open outback.

The cruise finally arrived in Merimbula, a small, quiet coastal town that had no idea what they were in for this particular weekend. We made it into town just in time for everyone to drop off their baggage at one of the many hotels sold out for the weekend before we cruised over to the Bowling Club for some all night mini-trucker fun. The bar/casino was filled full of tattooed and mohawked mini-truckers catching up on the last year's events about building trucks and dragging experiences. We got a chance to meet up with a bunch of blokes who kept buying the drinks and asking all about mini-truckin' in the States.

As the sun rose on Saturday morning we awoke to some very unpleasant weather that could easily ruin a mini-truck event, but it didn't seem to slow down this cruise one bit. Everyone gathered in a waterfront park just down the road from the hotels. Once the more than 100 mini-trucks had filled the parking lot and we had a chance to survey the area, we began to notice everything from suicide doors to body drops, as well as 4-door models of every mini-truck they offer in the States. Next stop: Bermagui. The drive from Merimbula to Bermagui was like nothing we had ever seen. There was a trail of over 100 mini-trucks behind us, amazing scenery of the Australian outback to our left, and miles of beautiful coast to our right. Wow, what a weekend!

Once we arrived in Bermagui everyone aired out their trucks in a small area dedicated to the cruise. We watched some small town locals try to impress the mini-truckers by doing tailspins in a grass field in their more-than-stock vehicles. After that, everyone filled their stomachs with meat pies and we hit the road back to Merimbula, where we would organize a drag session for all of the hardcore Aussies. After all the sparks had been layed on the highway, we headed back out to find the rest of the cruise participants, who had already commenced the night's festivities. The party went into the early morning as we watched countless mini-trucks cruising and dragging the streets of Merimbula as well as hundreds of mini-truckers occupying the motel parking lots and enjoying each other's company.

Sunday came all too quickly, and the day was spent shooting some of Australia's finest examples of completed minis since we would not see these trucks for at least another year. The East Coast Cruise was a great success, and it's only getting bigger and better. Mini-truckin' isn't a hobby or a sport, but rather it's a lifestyle that has spread all over the country, and as you can see, it has spanned the oceans and there are now loyal mini-truckers all over the world. The East Coast Cruise is a great way to bring together a bunch of mini-truckers from Australia to celebrate and enjoy a thriving and growing culture. Watch out, America! Aussie mini-trucks are stepping it up. For more information on this Australian event, check out www.kmuter.com.

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