Earthcore organiser defends Elmore festival against noise and crime claims, wants to return in 2018

Police breathalyse and drug test motorists on their way out of Earthcore in Elmore last month. Picture: DARREN HOWE
Police breathalyse and drug test motorists on their way out of Earthcore in Elmore last month. Picture: DARREN HOWE

THE organiser of dance music festival Earthcore says he would “love” to hold the festival in Elmore for a second year, and claimed criticism about noise and crime was unfounded.

Earthcore went ahead at the Elmore Events Centre last month without approval for late-night noise, but organiser Spiro Boursine said neither the EPA or Campaspe Shire Council requested any special licence.

He said they had “never once” been asked to apply for a licence at any of the 40 previous events.

“We did not breach any EPA noise levels. We don’t need to apply for this particular licence, we’ve never applied for an EPA licence of this type for 25 years,” Mr Boursine said.

“Not once did… anyone from the council tell us that we required a special licence from the EPA, not once.

“It’s never been said to us, it’s never been said in writing, it’s never been said in person.”

The shire received multiple noise complaints regarding the four-night festival. Mr Boursine said some of these were registered at times when no music was playing, and others may have been related to “politics of neighbours having a beef with the venue itself”.

The council told the Bendigo Advertiser last month it had contacted organisers in regards to obtaining appropriate licences, and the EPA said the event required a licence, but there was no EPA noise monitoring.

Mr Boursine had not been invited to a post-festival debrief, and the EPA had not contacted Earthcore organisers since the event.

During the festival, a man was charged with indecent assault and unlawful assault, police investigated another report of sexual assault, and there were multiple arrests for drug possession. One person was charged with trafficking.

Eight people were caught drug driving, one was drink driving and two were speeding.

Mr Boursine said these statistics were low, given the “massive” police presence which included roaming patrols inside the grounds, highway patrol units monitoring the roads and multiple random breath testing sites.

“Virtually every single person who left that site was breathalysed, you’re talking thousands and thousands of people,” he said.

“We had no air lifts, no ambulance trips. We didn’t have any dramas, no drug overdose-related issues at all.

“The crime rate at events like… racing days, B&S balls, all other sorts of events, if they had the same police presence as they had at Earthcore, their stats would be way higher than our’s.”

Earthcore was held at Pyalong from 2013 to 2016, but was denied a permit by Mitchell Shire Council for 2017 forcing it to find an alternative venue at short notice.

A woman believed to have an existing medical condition died at the 2016 event.

Mr Boursine said negative perceptions of dance music festivals were making it “virtually impossible” to find venues to host the events.

“We spend an absolute fortune just to get our events alive, due to the targeting they receive. They’ve been targeted for some reason,” he said.

He described the Elmore Events Centre as “fantastic” and he would “absolutely” like to hold Earthcore in Elmore in 2018.

Festival goers who spoke to the Bendigo Advertiser on the way into the venue described the festival as “friendly” with a “good vibe” and “good experiences”.

The EPA and Elmore Events Centre was contacted for comment.


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