Australia’s Byron Bay To Lose Splendour In The Grass, Falls Festival?

Two of Australia’s major festivals, Splendour In The Grass and Falls Byron Bay, could leave the picturesque area of Byron Bay and relocate to Queensland – taking A$100 million ($79.6 million) of economic benefits with them.  

The warning came from Mat Morris, general manager of the 260-hectares North Byron Parklands, on which the two festivals are staged.

Parklands is facing resistance from local residents over its A$42 million ($33.4 million) proposal to create a permanent festival site for up to 50,000 patrons and to additionally hold outdoor events for up to 20 days a year.

Residents have long been protective of Byron’s laidback lifestyle, and have protested that the development could create environmental, traffic, noise, emergency evacuation and transport problems. In 2016, angry Splendour patrons faced three-hour bus queues to exit the event. A NSW Police review of the event recommended said the site’s capacity not be increased to 50,000 until those issues were addressed.

The Byron council plans to write its concerns to the Department of Planning and Environment, which will decide if Parklands gets permanent status. For the past five-year trial period, in addition to a 20-month extension, Parklands has demonstrated a greater ability to manage noise and traffic. Morris has addressed many community meetings to address their concerns.

Brandon Saul, promoter of Falls Byron said, “Whilst there’s no such thing as ‘the perfect festival site’, North Byron Parklands comes pretty close. It’s spectacularly beautiful, it has relatively few direct neighbours, its topography incorporates two natural amphitheatres and about 300 acres of level ground suitable for camping – and, it’s adjacent to an arterial road network.”

Morris said a rejection of the proposal would leave no option but for the two festivals to relocate to Queensland. “Hundreds of jobs and more than $100 million in economic benefits will leave a region with high youth unemployment and a range of businesses dependant on these events,” he said.