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Byron's missing Splendour

With Splendour in the Grass moving north to Woodford this year, Bay Beach Motel manager Helen Freeman welcomes visitors to make the most of the many vacancies in town.
With Splendour in the Grass moving north to Woodford this year, Bay Beach Motel manager Helen Freeman welcomes visitors to make the most of the many vacancies in town. CATHY ADAMS

AS the Splendour in the Grass festival kicks off in Queensland today, Byron Bay businesses are hoping it will return to the area next year.

The musical event, which celebrates its 10th anniversary this year, moved to Woodford on the Sunshine Coast hinterland, from its long-held venue in Byron Bay.

Bay Beach Motel manager Helen Freeman is disappointed the festival was moved interstate.

“It's a big winter boost,” she said.

“In general it is quite good for the town and we are missing out on it. Those three days would be one of our busiest periods of the year, up there with Christmas andEaster.

“I think Byron Bay can cope with it. The town has busy weekends, so it just deals with it.

“A lot of guests who come make a holiday out of it and a lot ofpeople who have booked camping will stay a few more days in themotel.

“It always overflowed to places such as Mullumbimby, Lennox Head and Ballina, so they are missing out too. The whole area benefits.”

As Ms Freeman reflected on business during the festival she said at the moment the motel was ‘consistent but very quiet'.

“It is an absolute shame if it doesn't come back,” she said.

“I think people look forward to coming to Byron Bay because there is always something to do. They really enjoy the ambience, and I have not had a problem with the people who come for the festival.

“They would arrive, go to the concert all day and be so tired they would just go straight to bed and get up to do it all again.”

Thirty-two thousand people are expected to attend the Splendour in the Grass festival this weekend, and most will be camping at the festival site, Woodfordia.

Organisers have expanded the event from two to three days and impressed music enthusiasts with the massive line-up, including The Strokes, Scissor Sisters and Ben Harper.

Byron Bay Corner Store proprietor David Anderson said business multiplied five fold when Splendour was held at Belongil Fields in Byron Bay last year.

“For us Splendour is better than the Blues Festival because it falls in a non-holiday period,” he said.

“There is a great energy and we all love it. Visitors have paid big money for the tickets and accommodation and they are going to have a good time.

“There is very little trouble.Only if there is alcohol involved. But generally people dance their butts off at the festival and then go home. We hope it comes back.”

Splendour in the Grass organisers are applying to hold the festival on a site at Yelgun next year, but Mr Anderson said that might as well be Woodford as it's too far away from local businesses. He said it would be very little benefit.

Festival highlights

FRIDAY

Ben Harper & Relentless7 – Amphitheatre, 10.45pm-midnight

Angus and Julia Stone – Amphitheatre, 7.45-8.45pm

SATURDAY

Paul Kelly – GW McLennan Tent, 8.30-9pm

The Strokes – Amphitheatre, 10.45pm-midnight

SUNDAY

Pixies – Amphitheatre, 10.45pm-midnight

Mumford and Sons – Amphitheatre, 9.15-10.15pm


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