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Byron Shire
February 28, 2021

Byron Falls Festival spreads the good vibe

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Vika Bull opened the set for 'Paul Kelly Presents: The Merri Soul Sessions' at Byron Falls on New Year's Day. Photo Tree Faerie.
Vika Bull opened the set for ‘Paul Kelly Presents: The Merri Soul Sessions’ at Byron Falls Festival on New Year’s Day. Photo (and gallery below) by the Tree Faerie.

Organisers of the the third annual Falls Music and Arts Festival over the New Year holiday break have declared it one of the best they’ve held at the at North Byron Parklands venue.

The sunshine-filled days helped put most of the 16,000-plus young punters in a good mood, with police praising their good behaviour and many commenting on the event’s relaxed, friendly atmosphere.

It was the perfect background for the surprise wedding of two staff at the festival’s Village Arts precinct on Saturday afternoon in a public ceremony in one of the small theatre venues.

The rings for Benjamin Abeleven and Charlotte Truscott, of Helensburgh, were made on site, and after finding a festival patron who was a registered celebrant, and a bridal dress at a local garage sale, unsuspecting patrons were invited to attend the ceremony that was billed as ‘The Wedding’ on the chalkboard outside the venue.

The festival hosted a mix of international and national acts including UK band The Wombats bringing in the New Year, Bloc Party, Foals, Paul Kelly and The Merri Souls and Disclosure, who closed the festival.

Organisers told Echonetdaily that new features of this year’s festival which included the Palm Springs water park with its 20-metre inflatable water slide and the air-conditioned Foxtel movie venue, were very popular.

‘The new system of patrons being able to camp next to their cars was also given the thumbs up and had the positive effect of patrons taking their camping gear with them rather than leaving it in the campgrounds,’ a spokesperson said.

‘There were no major police incidents and the number of people seeking help from medical services was down 50 per cent from the previous year.

The festival’s emergency first aid director Stephen Barnes said the medical team of 20 staff ‘managed the lowest number of injuries in the history of The Falls Byron and our doctors, nurses and paramedics thoroughly enjoyed their time working at such a wonderful event’.

Director of the festival, Brandon Saul, praised the army of over 500 volunteers helping make the event run smoothly and give it its ‘good vibe’.

‘Everyone commented on how friendly, polite and cooperative the patrons were and that it made this year’s Falls Music and Arts Festival Byron a great experience,’ he said.

‘We were thrilled to host such a successful event in perfect conditions.’

The parklands’ general manager, Mat Morris, congratulated festival patrons for ‘embracing the new recycling system’.

‘We saw record levels of recycling which resulted in a truly beautiful festival site,’ Mr Morris said.

‘The planting (adjacent to the Billinudgel Nature Reserve) of over 1,000 native trees which took place directly before the event has continued to expand Parklands Habitat Restoration works. Most importantly, we’d like to thank our neighbours and the wider community for their support.’

Government has ‘head in sand on drug use’

Meanwhile, the NSW Greens say NSW premier Mike Baird and deputy premier Troy Grant cracking down on drugs at festivals is completely useless when the government is preventing harm reduction measures that will save lives such as pill testing.

Greens MLC Dr Mehreen Faruqi said the two leaders were ‘kidding themselves if they focus on a crackdown on music festivals as a response to another suspected drug overdose, this time at the Field Day festival’.

Dr Faruqi said that ‘calling on the festivals to get their houses in order will be a completely futile exercise, when the government is preventing harm reduction measures that will save lives such as pill testing’.

‘What will this crackdown lead to — more of the same war on drugs? More policing, drug dogs and security? All of these tactics have failed,’ she said.

Sunshine, good vibes, great music and arts: the Falls at Byron had it all. Photo Paul Smith

‘The old saying goes that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over, and expecting a different outcome. Clearly the current ‘war on drugs’ approach is not working.

‘Premier Baird and Deputy Premier Grant need to get their hands out of the sand – and quickly – before we needlessly lose more lives.

‘The NSW government need to accept the failures of their current approach.

‘As an initial measure we need to trial pill-testing at music festivals so that the use of dangerous pills can be prevented.

‘Health professionals involved in pill testing also have an opportunity to provide information and education to people about the adverse effects of using drugs.

‘Most broadly, of course, we need to completely rethink our approach to drugs and focus on a health and harm reduction approach, not treating people who use drugs as criminals,’ Dr Farqi said.

Photos David Lowe and the Tree Faerie – Cloudcatcher Media

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  1. Looks like a lovely event for the young festival-goers. Pity a better balance couldn’t be made with noise levels. I am 8 kms away & was still bothered by the constant drumming until midnight. Does it really have to be that loud? What about preserving the peace of the area, as well as the hearing of all those attending?


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