Festival goers will face tougher security screening, including car searches. (ABC News: Bronwyn Herbert)
Terrorism threats at major music events abroad have prompted Australia’s biggest music festival to beef up security.
Counter-terrorism police will join more than 150 officers patrolling the Splendour in the Grass site, near Byron Bay in NSW, when the festival begins on Friday.
- Counter-terrorism police will join more than 150 officers patrolling the festival site
- No backpacks allowed inside venue
- There may be delays in entering the festival site
Promoter Paul Piticco said it was sad having to introduce the measures, “but these are the times we live in now”.
For the first time, festival goers will not be able to take backpacks inside the venue because of bomb threats, and people will be searched with electronic wands.
New South Wales Police chief inspector Gary Cowan said counter-terrorism was a big part of planning for the event.
“Because of the new security measures you’ll find that when you come into the area you’ll have to go through and be wanded and checked,” he said.
“So if there is a little bit of a delay coming in just relax, because that’s part of what’s happening around the world today and you have to expect it.”
Festival founders Jessica Ducrou and Paul Piticco, with NSW Police chief inspector Gary Cowan, say the measures reflect the times we live in. (ABC News: Bronwyn Herbert)
Vehicles searches are also being conducted at the three-day event, which attracts 32,000 people each day.
Manchester attack prompts new measures
Mr Piticco said the terror attack in May in Manchester at singer Ariana Grande’s concert, where 23 people died, was part of the reason for the tighter restrictions.
“The movement towards softer targets has obviously alarmed us and really has hit home in the last six months with threats at German festivals,” Mr Piticco said.
“Obviously the Manchester situation weighed heavily on us.”
It took 2,000 people and 12 months of planning to make the event happen, which could be ruined by one fanatic, he said.
Splendour in the Grass founder Jessica Ducrou said the changes were about making everyone safe.
“Unfortunately it’s a reflection of the world we live in,” she said.
“We’ve had a lot of meetings with stakeholders. Our primary concern is that if people are going to come to Splendour they are going to be safe here.”
Festival goer Naj Salu, from West End in Brisbane, said he was hopeful the measures would not go too far.
“As long as it isn’t too enforced and we don’t see too many police officers roaming around infringing on our fun,” he said.
Keturah Tracey has travelled from Queensland’s Sunshine Coast for the event.
“Most people are good people and everyone is here for a good time and we are in a pretty good country,” Keturah said.
“I think we just have to be positive and be kind to each other and embrace each other to keep that energy there.”
The festival will feature more than 100 artists including Queens of The Stone Age, Bernard Fanning, Peking Duk, Sigur Ross and Vance Joy.
A super sized jumping castle featuring Kanye West is one of the attractions at this year’s Splendour in the Grass. (ABC News: Bronwyn Herbert)