Tweed-Byron police commander Superintendent Stuart Wilkins briefs media at the on-site police station within the Splendour festival site yesterday.
Police have set up a temporary station on site and hundreds of campers have started to pour in today to the Splendour in the Grass festival grounds at Yelgun as the three-day event gets set to kick off tomorrow at its new venue.
The site yesterday was a major construction zone and hive of activity with last minute preparations underway to cater for the thousands of people set to attend the festival and the 15,000 expected to camp on site.
It is the first time the annual arts and music festival, which has been run in Byron Bay for most of the past 12 years, will be held at the purpose-built North Byron Parklands set up on a 660-acre property.
The site has state government approval for major events to be held there for the next five years.
Festival promoter Jessica Ducrou yesterday was quietly confident the event at the new site would be a success,
Ms Ducrou told Echonetdaily it had been a challenge organising a much larger scale festival at a different venue, with a bigger level of on-site camping.
‘We’re pretty excited and looking forward to people coming along and enjoying it. There’s a range of new features and a great lineup and everything has come together so well for this year,’ Ms Ducrou said.
But she said it’s been a long hard road and ‘seven years in the making to get approval’,
Organisers have spent the past nine months, and hundreds of thousands of dollars, preparing the former grazing property for the sold-out event at which 25,000 people are set to attend each day from Friday to Sunday inclusive.
‘We’ve got our fingers crossed for good weather and it’s so far looking good for that but I suggest you bring galoshes and warm clothing as the nights could get cold,’ she said.
‘Also, as it’s the first time at this new venue, we ask people to be a bit patient, but we are confident with our planning.’
Ms Ducrou admitted the festival had sparked some angst with Byron Bay residents in the past when it was held at Belongil Fields in Byron Bay due to restricted access and traffic snarls over the three-day event.
‘But I think locals around here will be pleasantly surprised as those access restraints won’t be there and traffic control generally will be well organised with minimal delays,’ she said.
A couple of local roads used by surrounding residents, such as Jones Road, will be off limits to festival goers, and the festival site itself will have two entry points: for day trippers or campers.
Tweed-Byron police superintendent Stuart Wilkins said more than 100 police drawn from the region and Sydney will be on hand in and around the festival as well as Byron Bay and Brunswick Heads to control traffic and anti-social behaviour.
Supt Wilkins said the large police presence, paid for by festival organisers, was aimed at ‘ensuring people have a safe and enjoyable time’.
He said police would focus on the responsible service and consumption of alcohol at the event and warned people not to try to take drugs into the site.
‘The message is clear, do not take drugs into the festival as you will be searched, we’ll have drug-detection dogs there around the clock and we’ll also be searching cars in and around the festival.’
Supt Wilkins said general duties, licensing and traffic police will be joined by riot squad, dog squad and mounted police in the major operation.
Police will also patrol local roads near the festival site as well as the highway throughout the weekend to detect any drink drivers.
‘We’re quite looking forward to a positive festival, it’s been well prepared,’ he said.
‘Patrons are asked to enjoy the event but be mindful of others, police will not tolerate illegal or anti-social behaviour.’
The large contingent of police will be based in a temporary police station right next to the main entrance to the concert venues and stage tents within the site.
Meanwhile, a hotline for parking, noise or litter complaints during the festival has been set up, which will operate till Monday. The number is 1300 651 097. Residents can also email [email protected].
Byron Shire Council also has urged people with concerns about parking at neighbouring towns to report them to its rangers on 6626 7107, from Monday to Friday, 8.30am to 4.30pm or on the after hours number, 6622 7022.