Where the WildThings aren't: Music festival near Maldon knocked back in VCAT

The WildThings Festival planned for Walmer has become the latest music event knocked back by VCAT.
The WildThings Festival planned for Walmer has become the latest music event knocked back by VCAT.

Related: Bush doofs’ strain on the shires

IT may have promised to be “environmentally and socially sustainable”, but the state’s planning tribunal has found a new music festival near Maldon is too isolated, lacks access roads and could be a bushfire risk.

The Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal knocked back the WildThings Festival in a recent ruling – the latest hurdle for the micro-festival.

It promised to host 650 patrons on a rural property on Sinclairs Lane in Walmer in October this year, with music acts and market stalls across three days.

Mount Alexander Shire Council last year rejected the proposal, finding it was “isolated, poorly serviced and would impact agricultural land use in the area”.

VCAT has now upheld that decision.

The “family friendly” festival was originally planned for September last year, then postponed until October this year. It is unclear whether the latest VCAT setback will result in another postponement, or outright cancellation.

The WildThings Festival is based on the well-known children’s book, and the classic song “Wild Thing”.

But presiding VCAT member Megan Carew found the proposal was just a little too wild – particularly given the bushfire risk in the area, and the lack of sealed access roads.

“The track from Sinclairs Lane is in need of upgrade to cater for the event and there is only a very unformed track to Lewis Road,” she said.

“While there would be ‘plenty of room’ to accommodate vehicles (including queuing) on the site, I find that the impact of this on the land and vegetation has not been satisfactorily addressed.

“I am not persuaded that it is consistent with orderly and proper planning to locate an event for 650 patrons on an isolated farming property, serviced by unmade roads, with access tracks internally over 500 metres from abutting roads, surrounding by significant expanses of vegetation and within an area of bushfire risk.”

A neighbouring emu farmer, Welsh Cob horse breeder, and sheep and cattle farmers also objected to the festival, believing the noise and light would impact on their agricultural businesses.

A preview of the festival listed a range of musicians including Benny Walker, Jane McArthur and Vinod Prasanna as performers, along with several DJ acts.

The WildThings Festival joins a host of other rural music festivals to run afoul of local councils and the planning tribunal in recent years.

The Maitreya Festival near Charlton was last year knocked back in VCAT because of a lack of an emergency plan and liquor licencing issues. The Esoteric Festival replaced Maitreya.

Loddon Shire recently rejected a permit application for the Yemaya Festival, planned for a property north of Serpentine.

The WildThings organisers were contacted for comment.

In a social media post, organisers promised to refund tickets after Mount Alexander Shire Council refused a permit.