One man was crash-tackled just after 1pm. He was handcuffed and led away by uniformed and plain clothed police who had tried in vain to get him to spit something out of his mouth.
The festival was one of the first to use new drug amnesty bins, which the Berejiklian government introduced on the recommendation of Deputy State Coroner Harriet Grahame.
The amnesty tent, staffed by a NSW Health official, was stationed well away from the entrance where police focused their efforts. The Herald saw two people make a deposit in the bin but nearly everyone walked past, either ignoring it or failing to notice it.
Antoine*, a French man, was detained and taken into the police tent after a sniffer dog picked him out as he approached the entry.
Inside the tent, Antoine said police began to strip search him. He says he refused to take off his underwear before confessing to hiding two MDMA tablets which were confiscated.
“I was really honest,” he said.
Antoine received a $400 fine but did not have a conviction recorded. While acknowledging he did the wrong thing, Antoine said the police presence was “too much”.
“Because of that people hide their drugs and take them before, so maybe they overdose,” he said.
“They should maybe try [testing] the drugs. They know that everyone’s going to take drugs anyway.
“Strip search is just so f—-d. It’s so bad [that] you need to show your dick in front of police. It shouldn’t be allowed.”
Another patron, Tim* from the US, waited anxiously outside the police tent while his wife was searched. He said she was carrying a pill: her daily dose of Vyvanse to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
“As we walked up one of the dogs started sniffing and that alerted the police. They kept asking ‘Do you have any drugs on you?’ They kept saying ‘Be honest’.
“It seems excessive to me. I’ve been to festivals before and this is pretty intense,” Tim said.
“To me what this encourages people to do is take all their drugs before they enter the festival. And then what happens?”
Inside the festival, the music was loud with the crowd well-behaved amid a chilled vibe. Despite the crowd of almost 30,000 attendees, there was plenty of space for people to sit under trees and enjoy the music.
A security guard said the crowd behaviour had been good, with only a few hopeful fence-hoppers nabbed trying to enter the venue.
Patrons faced lengthy queues for toilets, but otherwise enjoyed lounging on the grass or raving shoulder-to-shoulder among thousands of others near the stages.
Red Cross volunteers handed out free ear plugs and sunscreen, and the mild weather was a relief after scorching hot weather on Tuesday.
*The patrons interviewed requested not to have their surnames published.
Josh Dye is a news reporter with The Sydney Morning Herald.