‘How do you throw that away?’ Festival-goers leave grounds a mess

Lost Paradise attendees left behind usable camping equipment as well as tonnes of rubbish. Photo: suppliedTents, air mattresses, trestle tables, camp chairs, marquees, Eskies, Aerogard and sunscreen, torches, shoes and canned food.

These are among the thousands of good-quality items collected by 20 volunteers over two days after they were left behind by campers at the Lost Paradise music festival at Glenworth Valley in the Hawkesbury.

The camping equipment filled four cars, one ute, a van and three trailers, and more could have been collected if it hadn’t been trashed, volunteer Linda Strickland said.

“People leave the most amazing things, a lot of it purchased just for the festival and then it’s discarded,” she said.

Ms Strickland is the founder of Hawkesbury Helping Hands, a charity that supports homeless people in the Hawkesbury region.

Three years ago, she said they were contacted by organisers of the Lost Paradise festival who asked her if her charity would like the camping gear left behind by attendees, and they have been collecting it ever since.

“We pretty much go in for the camping equipment, but because there is just so much stuff left that’s salvageable we’re going to pick up that as well,” Ms Strickland said.

“Anything that wasn’t dirty or yucky of course … there were so many Eskies that were pretty much new, so we collected those.”

While she said she was grateful to be able to collect such valuable items for the charity, it was hard to understand how people could just leave it.

“It is definitely a mixed feeling for us, we’re like ‘wow this is going to help so many people’ [but] a lot of us cannot believe what is being left behind.”

And there was a lot left.

Paradise was lost ! Lost paradise festival aftermath ! The festival organisers and patrons need a massive wake up call . Hardly a bin in sight! For 4 days campers trashed their own camp sites living in squaller but who cares as long as they partied hard that’s all that matters to the younger generation . Everything that was bought for the festival was bought to be trashed and left behind . #throwawaysociety . This is a disgrace . This festival site is surrounded by pristine National Park and a lot of this rubbish was blowing into the tidal creek that flows into the #hawksburyriver and into our beautiful #pacificocean . I’m sure they are all driving back to mum and dads house where’s she cleans up after them #newyearsday #lostparadise #notinmybackyard @take3forthesea maybe you guys should school these people for next year . What ever happened to camping where you take everything with you and leave nothing but footprints .Posted by Jesse McNair on Monday, 1 January 2018

Video shows tents and air mattresses blowing like tumbleweed over piles of rubbish, and a yoga mat sailing away in the wind.

Photographer Jesse McNair, who shot the video, said he thought most of the festival goers were millennials who appeared happy to just leave their rubbish behind.

“People are bringing things to the festival with no intention of ever taking them with them; it’s a throwaway attitude,” he said.

“[They] were just there to party, not campers; there to have a good time and go.”

In a post on Facebook, Lost Paradise organisers said they were “disgusted by some patrons’ disregard to the environment”.

“Lost Paradise has always been a forward-thinking event, committed to leaving zero trace on our festival site, and ensuring the Glenworth Valley remains as pristine and perfect as we found it,” the statement said.

“The team that produce Lost Paradise are dedicated to ensuring that the grounds are returned to the family of horses that occupy the grounds regardless of time or effort.

“Massive clean-up crews are working long hours to ensure that we leave absolutely no trace on the Glenworth Valley site, as we’ve done every year since our inception in 2014.”

McNair said while the post-festival clean up was all well and good, more needed to be done to get patrons to keep the grounds tidy throughout the four-day event.

“The more you clean up after people, the more they’re going to leave their mess for you to clean up.”

At Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, another festival’s campsite was left in an entirely different state.

Amanda Jackes, the general manager of Woodford Folk Festival, said it’s an annual tradition for her and the festival director to drive around after the five-day festival and inspect the spotless campsites.

The Woodford Folk Festival campsite after patrons left. Photo: Supplied

“It’s always been that the camp grounds are left that clean,” she said.

Environmental awareness and responsibility is part of the fabric of the festival itself, Ms Jackes said.

“It’s the culture that’s created in the temporary community that is here,” she said. “70 per cent of our people are return visitors, and so those return visitors are demonstrating how we look after the environment at this festival for the 30 per cent of new visitors.”

Falls Festival organisers have also worked hard to get the environmental message across to their patrons.

Cleaning crews going through the Falls Festival campgrounds at Byron Bay after campers left. Photo: Supplied

Event director of the Byron Bay leg of the festival, Brandon Saul, said keeping the festival grounds clean was always a challenge but the patrons need to do the work too.

“Ultimately you need the audience to do the right thing,” he said. “There are still challenges, a lot of the tents the kids buy are probably not made to last, but for our part honestly the clean up has been amazing.”

Ms Strickland said the excess of tents, sleeping bags and other ephemera her volunteers has collected would all find good homes.

“For us, it’s worthwhile, because some of this stuff that’s left is unbelievable … how do you throw that away?”

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