Che bello! Hundreds of Italian cars set to roll into Queanbeyan Park

James Coleman 10 April 2021 39
Alfa Romeos

A row of Alfas. Photos: Supplied.

It could well be the largest annual display of Italian vehicles in the world – certainly in the Southern Hemisphere – and it’s coming to Queanbeyan this weekend.

Ferraris, Lamborghinis, Maseratis, Alfa Romeos, Fiats, Lancias, De Tomasos, Ducatis and other exotic cars, motorcycles and scooters from across south-east Australia will emerge from their garages and converge just over the ACT border for a few hours on Sunday, 11 April.

It will be a celebration of the beauty, drama and branded caps that can only come from Italy. Fingers crossed there are no electrical fires.

‘Auto Italia’ began in 1985 as a handful of owners meeting up in Weston Park, and it’s been marked on the calendars of local car enthusiasts ever since. The largest so far saw nearly 800 entries.

Owners come from our own backyard as well as Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Adelaide will make the trip, and some have even been known to book ferry tickets to make their way from Tasmania for the 3.5-hour event.

Various local Italian motor clubs have taken charge over the years, but it didn’t take long before they were overwhelmed by the sheer scale of the event.

This prompted the birth of the Italian Cars Association of the ACT. Tony Hanrahan is the president and says that its sole purpose, from the design of its constitution to the roles for its members, is to facilitate Auto Italia.


Auto Italia 2019, at EPIC.

Like every other event, COVID-19 whacked it on the head last year. But Tony says this wasn’t so much to do with social distancing as the back pocket.

“We’re a non-profit organisation so we rely on the income from any one year to run the next year’s event. We couldn’t guarantee to ourselves that there would be enough cars to generate enough income for us to pay the quite substantial outgoings,” he says.

For the longest time, Auto Italia was held on the lawns of Old Parliament House but was evicted by the National Capital Authority in 2016 for posing a danger to tree roots. The hunt for a venue that was both cheap enough and large enough began.

“We had to find a new home, and that’s not easy to do,” Tony says.

Pialligo turned out to be a traffic nightmare because of the single road in and out, so they decamped to EPIC.

This year they’re making Queanbeyan their home, thanks to Queanbeyan-Palerang Regional Council (QPRC), whose mayor, Tim Overall, has welcomed Auto Italia to the Town Park.


It might be a V10 Lamborghini, but it’s still very green.

For Tony, the motivation for the event is simple: “We have a love of Italian cars.”

Over the years, he’s owned several, but the car he wished he’d never sold was a 2002 Alfa Romeo V6 Spider. Today, he’s in a Fiat Abarth, which he says is fast becoming a cult car.

“It punches well above its weight. It’s very light – the power-to-weight ratio is extraordinary.”

The demographics of Canberra are such that the average disposable income is high and this, says Tony, gives more people the means to get into exotic Italian cars. Once in and driving around though, he describes the reaction from the rest of the public as “mixed”.

“Very few people will drive a Ferrari every day. People open doors on them, key them … In one way, they’re investments and in another way, you could say a rolling work of art. They’re weekend drivers.”

Despite the popularity of the event and the tourism it attracts to the region, Auto Italia has never received a cent of funding from the ACT Government. Tony says that part of the problem could be the nature of the cars involved. Too often, they’re dismissed as something for elitists suffering mid-life crises.

“It’s not so much a result of a mid-life crisis,” he explains, “as a result of a mid-life bank account. It’s taken a long time to earn some decent money and now they’re going to spend it on themselves.

“The people I know are hardened car enthusiasts.”


Cleaning the Maserati’s shoes.

Auto Italia 2021 will be held at Queanbeyan Town Park, 1 Lowe Street, from 10:00 am to 1:30 pm on Sunday, 11 April. Street parking is available and entry is free. QR codes will be available on site for COVID-19 check-in.

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39 Responses to Che bello! Hundreds of Italian cars set to roll into Queanbeyan Park
Chantelle Pellegrini Chantelle Pellegrini 3:27 pm 12 Apr 21

Claire Smith found them 😍

Annika Field Annika Field 7:55 pm 10 Apr 21

Warren Sammut surprised your not here!

Claudia Sykes Claudia Sykes 10:31 am 10 Apr 21

Alex Cheney Mikala Jean yhhhhh day trip?

Paul Hamilton Paul Hamilton 9:44 am 10 Apr 21

Samantha Hamilton ah Z would love this

Michael Norris Michael Norris 9:26 am 10 Apr 21

maybe one of them will start

Mark Sandell Mark Sandell 8:31 pm 09 Apr 21

Stephen Fitzmorgan message me if you’re up for it!

    Stephen Fitzmorgan Stephen Fitzmorgan 9:51 pm 09 Apr 21

    I just checked the weather... It's supposed to be quite nice...


    I see it could be a bit on the windy side, so I think I can use that as an excuse not to ride ;)

    Count me in! :)

    And V says that she'd be willing to get out of bed for it too ;)

    Let me know what the final plan is...

    Mark Sandell Mark Sandell 10:19 pm 09 Apr 21

    I’ll message you!

James Andrews James Andrews 6:42 pm 09 Apr 21

Can't wait to see them all!

Angelo Turcin Angelo Turcin 6:18 pm 09 Apr 21

It’s offical there’s nothing left in Canberra to do

    Tiina Daskalakis Tiina Daskalakis 8:37 pm 09 Apr 21

    Angelo Turcin floriade Angelo!!!!! Lol 😂

    Angelo Turcin Angelo Turcin 8:40 pm 09 Apr 21

    Tiina Daskalakis Queanbeyan has more flowers 🌸

Kelly Ryan Kelly Ryan 5:51 pm 09 Apr 21

Bradley Drew look what has made an appearance

Horst Kirchner Horst Kirchner 5:12 pm 09 Apr 21

about time they moved to the best car show venue in the region, Ive had the british car & bike show there for years now, everyone loves the park😎

Tyler Brunning Tyler Brunning 3:56 pm 09 Apr 21

Keegan Franzi we could do this with dad. Archer would think it is pretty cool

Ann Collier Ann Collier 3:49 pm 09 Apr 21

Sounds like a great day out

Therese Maree Therese Maree 3:20 pm 09 Apr 21

Sophie Bawden apparently why Canberra is booked out this weekend haha

Stefan Walker Stefan Walker 3:19 pm 09 Apr 21

Ian Walker? Kids are keen if you are

Michele Reaney Michele Reaney 2:55 pm 09 Apr 21

Andrew Connelly Annette Reaney could be worth a look 👀

Peter McArdle Peter McArdle 1:53 pm 09 Apr 21

Surely “the largest annual display of Italian vehicles in the world” is a traffic jam in Rome. 🤣

    Peter Hatfield Peter Hatfield 4:55 pm 09 Apr 21

    Peter McArdle Or Roma Wreckers where they get thrown out after a few years.

Rebecca Naomi Johnston Rebecca Naomi Johnston 1:42 pm 09 Apr 21

Wendy Thomas it’s on this Sunday

    Stephen Rivett Stephen Rivett 3:17 pm 09 Apr 21

    Rebecca Naomi Johnston queanbeyan ...... my old home town lol

Naomi Gray Naomi Gray 1:40 pm 09 Apr 21

Kayla Crispino what are you doing this weekend?

Penny Nichols Penny Nichols 1:20 pm 09 Apr 21

Bruce Koch are we going?

    Bruce Koch Bruce Koch 2:51 pm 09 Apr 21

    Penny Nichols 👍 we can walk down from home.

Sally Adams Sally Adams 1:07 pm 09 Apr 21

Penny Nichols... Might see you there.. 😉😜😂

    Penny Nichols Penny Nichols 1:20 pm 09 Apr 21

    Sally Adams oh how we’ve changed!!! 😂

    Sally Adams Sally Adams 1:32 pm 09 Apr 21

    Penny Nichols tell me about it! 🙄

    Matthew Hateley Matthew Hateley 1:34 pm 09 Apr 21

    we will be there as well Sally. Hopefully catch up

    Sally Adams Sally Adams 2:25 pm 09 Apr 21

    Matthew Hateley sweet... Let's meet up and chat Ferraris

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