A Falls Festival spokeswoman would not be drawn on whether organisers would relocate next year’s event, saying it was too early for such a decision and the priority was refunding people’s tickets. More than 20 food truck operators had been bracing for significant financial losses as a result of the cancellation. However, by Tuesday afternoon four trucks had relocated to a food festival in Philip Island while several others had donated their perishable goods to charity.
Falls isn’t without its share of supporters. Attendee Jai Harrington, 21, said Falls organisers had made the right call.
“We’re all sad about missing the festival but I don’t want to die in a bushfire,” he said. “Like, five cars and a caravan would have been able to get out. Get some perspective.”
Julia Robinson, from the Australian Festival Association, said Sunday’s cancellation shows how the nation’s live music festivals are grappling with climate change and extreme weather events. Victoria hasn’t been the only state to be battered by festival cancellations this summer. Earlier this month, organisers of the Lost Paradise festival in New South Wales pulled the pin due to “intense and unpredictable” fire conditions.
“From a planning and zoning perspective, we need to start looking at alternative venues,” Ms Robinson said. “Spaces we potentially haven’t considered before. We might find we see more festivals move to an indoor format or a more controlled environment. This is obviously a very bad season. There will probably be some time for reflection after.”
Ms Robinson said while she has no doubt major bush festivals will continue, smaller operators might struggle thanks to the rising cost of on-site emergency services and insurance premiums.
Berish Bilander, from Green Music Australia, said festivalgoers also bear some responsibility in helping music festivals adapt.
“Culture is not immune from the climate crisis,” he said. “A zero-waste environment encourages really basic things like reusing and rewashing stuff that, for the last 30 or 40 years, has been thrown out,” he said. “This is not rocket science. But it’s not happening. Everyone in the industry has a role to play.”
Meanwhile, Beyond the Valley in Gippsland and NYE on the Hill, which borders Gippsland, will continue as planned, albeit with additional safety measures in place.