Byron Bay Writers Festival has to relocate after Splendour in the Grass destroys park

Popular festival is forced to MOVE because Splendour in the Grass revellers left their site looking like a rubbish dump

  • Writers festival forced to move after Splendour leaves Byron park a mess
  • Festival moved to Byron Bay resort to spare churned up North Byron Parklands
  • News likely to further anger locals already furious at how parklands was left
  • Some are calling for an end to Splendour festival because it’s ‘unsustainable’

A popular festival has been forced to relocate after its usual site was turned into a rubbish tip by tens of thousands of revellers at Splendour in the Grass.

The Byron Writers Festival will be held at the Elements of Byron resort – instead of its usual home at North Byron Parklands, in northern NSW –  between August 26 and 28.

The Writers Festival said the parklands needed rest and restoration after heavy downpours turned the site into a quagmire during Splendour.

The damage was made worse by the 50,000 revellers who attended the three-day event in July and left behind rubbish, crumpled tents and deflated mattresses.

The Bryon Writers Festival has moved away from its normal North Byron Parklands home after Splendour in the Grass revellers left the site in a chaotic mess

The Bryon Writers Festival has moved away from its normal North Byron Parklands home after Splendour in the Grass revellers left the site in a chaotic mess

The Writers Festival said the parklands needed rest and restoration after heavy downpours turned the site into a quagmire during Splendour

The Writers Festival said the parklands needed rest and restoration after heavy downpours turned the site into a quagmire during Splendour 

Writers Festival director Zoe Pollock said organisers had no other option than to relocate the upcoming event. 

‘It was basically a mutual decision with North Byron Parklands that it would be best to move to a different site if that was possible,’ she said.

The Writers Festival will feature authors such as controversial Indigenous historian Bruce Pascoe, ABC gardening guru Costa Georgiadis, movie star Bryan Brown and English philosopher A. C. Grayling. 

‘We have a great team and I have great confidence to make this last minute change,’ Ms Pollock told the ABC.

News of the relocation will likely inflame locals who have already angrily accused Splendour of trashing their idyllic coastal town.            

Images from hastily vacated festival sites showed tents, piles of trash, deflated mattresses and thousands of pairs of filthy boots left behind. 

Locals took to social media to rip into the festival guests, while environmentalists have slammed the festival as ‘unsustainable’.

‘Every year there’s entire tents, Eskys, chairs and all sorts of perfectly usable equipment just dumped because grubs lack the brain cells to know how to pack it up or take it to the donation spots,’ one resident fumed. 

‘I wish there was some sort of way to avoid this.’

A pair of muddy boots were found left on the side of the road in town in Byron Bay after Splendour finished t

A pair of muddy boots were found left on the side of the road in town in Byron Bay after Splendour finished t

Hundreds of boots were left behind after patrons cleaned out local shops when the festival descended into a mud pit

Hundreds of boots were left behind after patrons cleaned out local shops when the festival descended into a mud pit

Some locals have called for the music festival to be permanently moved from the area due to the damage.

‘In these times they shouldn’t be able to run it without some strict environmental guidelines,’ one resident said. ‘But it’s all about the money… as usual.’

Greens candidate Sue Higginson said Splendour at its heart is about ‘mega money, environmental destruction and local community pain and suffering.’

‘The land is the home of endangered ecological communities, 28 threatened species and is the site of significant aboriginal cultural heritage,’ she wrote on Facebook.

‘The site of Splendour in the Grass is part of the most easterly significant wildlife corridor in Australia. It is the only intact corridor that connects the Gondwana Wollumbin ancient deep time forests to the unique subtropical coastal lowlands.

This year’s Splendour, the first to held in three years, was marred by disastrous weather, poor planning, extensive cancellations and allegations of incompetence from patrons. 

Splendour patrons left the campsite strewn with discarded items and general refuse. 

Festival workers had the unenviable task of cleaning up thousands of pieces of discarded belongings

Festival workers had the unenviable task of cleaning up thousands of pieces of discarded belongings

The trail of destruction even found its way into town, with notoriously unwelcoming locals saying people had left their dirty shoes strewn throughout its streets 25kilometres from the festival site.

‘I notice there’s a trail of muddy shoes and gumboots around town this morning where people have ditched them in the gutters and on footpaths,’ a resident posted on Facebook.

‘You guys are coming back to pick this up right?’ another said. 

On Splendour’s website, it claims it has a ‘heap of environmental programs’ to help every patron ‘become a waste and eco-warrior during your time’ at the festival.

‘In 2019, Splendour in the Grass won a green gong at the NSW Government Green Globe Awards, an event that recognises sustainability leaders across NSW, as well as projects and events that events that encourage others to achieve positive change for the environment,’ organisers said.

‘From encouraging you to catch the bus or share a ride, to promoting initiatives on waste reduction, BYO bottles and reusable cups, we’re always on the hunt for more ways to help keep our footprint light. Spread the environmental good vibes and lead by example.’ 

Local volunteers are taking people's unwanted items to recycle

Local volunteers are taking people’s unwanted items to recycle

Festival fans took to social media to express their fury over the poorly organised festival. 

In a final statement, Splendour Co-CEOs Jessica Ducrou and Paul Piticco thanked the ‘best festival team’ in the country for their efforts but issued also issued hit adopted an apologetic tone.

‘We apologise for any inconvenience you may have experienced at our 20th Splendour. It certainly wasn’t our easiest show but even with the trials and tribulations we are so happy to be back with our Splendour family of patrons, our awesome event team, and our Australian music industry colleagues,’ they wrote.

‘As always, we really did try to provide the best experience possible under some extremely tricky conditions. The sheer collective spirit lifted us out of the mud and put music back on our stages where it hasn’t been for years. We thank all the patrons that held onto their tickets for so long. 

‘We also acknowledge all the first-time festival goers and those who hadn’t experienced a rain effected event before, we understand it was a lot for you. 

‘We have the best festival team in the country and we did everything we could considering the circumstances. We have consulted the weather gods and they tell us it will be great in 2023.’

The first Splendour in the Grass in three years was marred by disastrous weather, comical planning, extensive cancellations and allegations of poor planning from patrons

The first Splendour in the Grass in three years was marred by disastrous weather, comical planning, extensive cancellations and allegations of poor planning from patrons

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