Trashed festival site provides some good news for the homeless

Post the Lost Paradise festival 2018

A Booker Bay photographer has slammed the organisers and attendees of New Year’s Eve music festival, Lost Paradise, after the Glenworth Valley festival site was left looking like Mangrove Mountain tip.
Mr Jessie McNair took to Facebook to vent his disappointment with festival organisers and revellers alike.
“Paradise was lost at Lost Paradise.
“The festival organisers and patrons need a massive wake up call,” Mr McNair wrote.
Video; Jesse McNair
“For four days, campers trashed their own campsites, living in squalor, but who cares as long as they partied hard, that’s all that matters to the younger generation,” Mr McNair wrote.
“Everything that was bought for the festival was brought to be trashed and left behind.
“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 Hawkesbury River and into the ocean,” Mr McNair added.
Accompanying Mr McNair’s post was a video of the festival’s camping ground that showed discarded camping equipment, personal items and rubbish for as far as the eye can see.
Mr McNair’s video also captured debris and litter being lifted and blown around by strong winds at the time of filming.
The video post has since gone viral, sparking a debate about Lost Paradise and whether responsibility lies with soft organisers or non-caring campers.
Following the debate, Mr Peter Haselhurst, one of the event organisers, also took to social media.
“Lost Paradise has always been a forward-thinking event, committed to leaving zero trace on our festival site, and ensuring that Glenworth Valley remains as pristine and perfect as we found it.
“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.
“In 2017, we also introduced an Eco Bond of $10 on every ticket sold.
“This fee is refunded if a guest collects and hands in one bag of recycling and one bag of general waste at the event.
If not, it is forfeited and goes towards the clean-up effort, and for future protection and preservation of the festival site.
“Over 22,000 bags were handed out on entry at the start of the festival,” he said.
“For the last two years, we’ve also partnered with Green Connect, to further reduce our impact on the environment.
“Green Connect is a social enterprise that works to keep waste out of the landfill, and champions the employment of young people and former refugees.
“While we don’t yet have figures for this year’s event, last year we kept 10.6 tonnes of organic material out of the landfill, and put it to work growing seasonal, organic food with Green Connect.
“In the end however, regardless of all the efforts we put in place to minimize the impact we put on the Glenworth Valley festival site, we can’t do this alone, we rely on our guests and everyone involved to do their part for the environment and take whatever they have brought with them away again, and use one of the many bins and Eco Stations provided on site.
“Unfortunately not everyone helps with this effort and considerable quantities of camping equipment and trash have again been left behind.
“We have a very large contingent of cleaners, both during the festival and post, with dedicated Popran Creek teams, who hit the grounds from the moment the campgrounds were vacated.
Regardless of where the blame should lie, one group of volunteers has rolled their sleeves up and gotten on with the clean-up of the camping ground.
Hawkesbury’s Helping Hands have been cleaning up after Lost Paradise since 2014.
The 20 strong group of volunteers descend on the carnage that is the campground every year to comb the mountains of rubbish for forgotten treasure.
The group repurpose items left behind, for the homeless, and according to group founder, Ms Lisa Strickland, Lost Paradise is a veritable treasure trove.
“We are totally amazed at the quality and quantity of items that are just left, thrown away and discarded,” she said.
“Brand new tents, insect repellent, shoes, eskies.
“In this weather, do you know how great it is for our homeless to have an Esky?”
All in all, Hawksbury’s Helping Hands were able to collect over six loaded cars, one ute and five trailers worth of goods over two days for repurposing.
“It is a dirty job and hard work, but in the end, it is worth it,” Ms Strickland said.
“Our first priority when we touch down is to collect as much salvageable camping gear as possible, tents, camper tables and chairs, eskies and tarps.
“But when we’re going through and finding things like sunscreen and aero guard, items that anybody, but especially the homeless, could benefit from, we start collecting those too.
“These are small items but they make such a difference to our homeless.
Other items collected on the day included shoes, towels, mattresses, torches and canned food items.
When asked about the state of the campground, Ms Strickland said the volunteers were always shocked at the state it was left in but not surprised.
“We’ve been coming for years now and the festival has been bigger each year, but it is quite a hard thing to explain, how it feels to collect items that have been brought solely to be left behind.
“To see so much camping gear and personal items just dumped or left in such a state that they’re unusable is very frustrating,” Ms Strickland said.
“This is a dirty job and I cannot thank our volunteers enough or Lost Paradise for the invitation, but the way this site is left each year is just absolutely disgusting.
“We collect the rubbish bags that Lost Paradise say they give out to patrons.
“They go unused.
“We are always the first ones through the grounds after the campers move on.

Sources:
Websites, Jan 2, 5
Jesse McNair, Facebook post
Peter Haselhurst, Lost Paradise Facebook page
Interview, Jan 16
Linda Strickland, Hawksbury’s Helping Hands
Dilon Luke, Journalist

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