VIA – ADELAIDENOW
A ROW has erupted between Kangaroo Island locals over a proposed surf and music festival.
The festival is expected to bring thousands of revellers to the pristine tourist spot.
While many see it as an opportunity to attract as many as 3000 people, others – including one opponent who has been charged with assault over a threatening email – believe the event will threaten the island’s ecosystem.
The tiny community of Vivonne Bay has split since Surfing SA’s May announcement of the Kangaroo Island Surf Music Festival, due to be held in late October-early November.
The event will include a visit by surfing great Mark Occhilupo, as well as feature bands Eskimo Joe, The Beautiful Girls and Hungry Kids of Hungary.
Only about 40 people live in the town, but conflict around the festival, on the world surfing circuit, has already resulted in an assault charge.
Shopkeepers Michelle Peacock and Leanne Parker would not tell the Sunday Mail what they thought of the festival this week for fear it could polarise half their regular customers.
“It’s split the community,” Ms Peacock said. “We’ve got a group that’s very vocal and against, and the others for it aren’t as vocal but there’s definitely a split.”
Surfer Zephatali Walsh will face court in November over allegations he threatened event organiser Tim Doman in an email.
Mr Walsh and other local surfers have erected signs at Vivonne Bay, written to the local newspaper, The Islander, and complained to Kangaroo Island Council.
“We’ve got no vested interest in this,” he said. “We want people to come and surf here – just not 5000 people.
“Rather than conserving these things, they’re exploiting them”.
Mr Walsh said he was concerned the music festival-goers would damage the sand dunes and disturb the birds and animals that live in them, by traipsing between the camp ground on private land and the beach.
Fourth-generation farmer Mike Bald, whose property backs on to the beach where the surfing competition will be held, said he was in the process of working on a contract for the music festival and camp ground to be set up in his paddocks.
“I wouldn’t let them do it if I didn’t think they were going to clean up after themselves,” he said.
“If we let some of this open to the world or rest of Australia, we might keep getting outside money, not just outside people.”
Mr Bald said he was well aware of the need to protect the coastal environment and birdlife in the area.
Ms Peacock said most of the young people who lived on the island were excited about the big names that would be performing, including Eskimo Joe.
“We never get anything like that over here,” she said. “For the younger generation it’s a really good thing.”
Surfing SA chief executive officer Steve Reddy said about 1800 tickets for the music festival had already sold.
“From a social perspective, the feedback I have had is that locals are bringing their friends back to stay with them,” he said. “To me that’s a real key to the whole event.”
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