Victorian wild weather hits music festivals, more extreme wind and rain on the way

Home Arts Victorian wild weather hits music festivals, more extreme wind and rain on the way
Victorian wild weather hits music festivals, more extreme wind and rain on the way

Wild winds and rain are expected to continue in Victoria, after the weather on Saturday night forced the mid-performance cancellation of a Melbourne music festival and left dozens of people bogged at another event near Geelong.

Punters persisted through the rain at a concert headlined by Crowded House at Mt Duneed Estate, west of Melbourne, in conditions one attendee labelled “awesome but dangerous”.

Organisers of A Day on the Green at Mt Duneed Estate told attendees before the event began that the show was safe to go ahead, but warned people to wear appropriate footwear and bring a raincoat.

They said on-site parking would be restricted to four-wheel drives only due to weather affecting the parking area, organising shuttle busses from designated drop-off and parking spots.

But dozens of four-wheel drives were bogged after a downpour and unable to exit the event.

Purple gumboots on feet standing in muddy grass at night.
Many attendees wore gumboots and ponchos.(Supplied: Josh Chapman)
Two people with a tarp wrapped around them at a concert outside.
People protected themselves from the rain with tarps.(Supplied: Josh Chapman)

Jo Hardy arrived at about 5pm, once the event was already underway, and said she saw people slipping over in the mud as they were walking through the entry gate.

Ms Hardy travelled from near Ballarat to see Crowded House, who she said put on an “amazing” show through heavy rain that had started falling.

“It was awesome. But it was dangerous,” she said.

Two women in rain gear at a concert.
Jo Hardy and her friend were soaked but enjoyed the music.(Supplied: Jo Hardy)

Ms Hardy, a nurse, said she saw one attendee using crutches fall over three times while trying to move from their seat to the toilets. Another, she said, was in a wheelchair and could not move from the toilets to an allocated accessible area.

“It was awful,” she said.

Another attendee, who wanted only to be known as Ella, left the venue while Crowded House was playing due to the “absolutely miserable” weather.

She and her friends had arrived in a large four-wheel drive but found it completely bogged when they returned, estimating at least 150 people were in the same situation.

Cars bogged in a field at night.
Some cars were unable to get out of the parking area.(Supplied: Ella)

She said there was no noticeable presence from event organisers to direct people out of the bog, and they planned to sleep in their car until “good Samaritans with four-wheel drives started showing up”.

“It was actually so lovely everyone cheering out the window, tooting and flashing lights when people made it out,” she said.

Roundhouse Entertainment, which put on the event, said the decision to continue with the show was made “after extensive consultation with major stakeholders including emergency services and police” and included regular communication with the weather bureau.

“We take the safety of our patrons very seriously and work diligently with police, emergency services and other stakeholders to ensure this. All decisions made are done based on the advice to hand,” a spokesperson said.

“The day on the green shows are held on outdoor sites that are at the mercy of the weather. All patrons are encouraged to dress for all weather events and all stakeholders work as hard as possible to ensure a safe environment.

“Due to the extraordinary unseasonable weather experienced last night, some patrons had to leave their cars at the venue. The day on the green team are on site this morning to assist these patrons.”

The back of a car in mud.
Ella and her friends drove a large car to the event but were unable to get out.(Supplied: Ella)

Meanwhile, organisers of the Illuminate the River festival pulled the pin on their event on Saturday afternoon, saying wind gusts of more than 80 kilometres per hour meant it was unsafe for it to proceed.

“The safety of our artists, staff and patrons is our highest priority and unfortunately, our safety team has advised us that staging, rigging and rides will hit their limit as the wind picks up,” organisers said in a statement after 6pm.

A sign at an event saying 'remainder of today's event has been cancelled due to safety concerns'.
A sign telling patrons the Illuminate the River event had been cancelled.(Supplied: Twitter/@anth0888)

The festival along Melbourne’s Maribyrnong River, in the suburb of Aberfeldie, boasted stars such as Baker Boy, Montaigne and Something for Kate on its line-up.

The family event was scheduled just over a month after the river flooded, inundating homes and businesses, particularly in suburbs downstream.

Wild weather set to continue

The massive front that moved across the state on Saturday saw wind gusts of up to 56kph at Moorabbin Airport, 50kph at Point Cook 69kph at Ballarat, 50kph in Bendigo and 93kph at Falls Creek.

The State Emergency Service received more than 370 calls for assistance in the 24 hours to Saturday morning.

About 3,000 homes were without power early on Saturday morning.

The Bureau of Meteorology’s Jenny Sturrock said the state could expect more wild winds and thunderstorm activity on Sunday afternoon and into the start of the week.

A severe weather warning for damaging winds was issued for the Wimmera and South West regions, as well as parts of the alpine areas in the east of the state.

After a lull in wind speeds early on Sunday, westerlies are expected to pick up again, with gusts of up to 100kph in parts of the state.

Central Melbourne is expected to escape the worst of the winds, but Ms Sturrock said there was the potential for locally damaging thunderstorms.

“At this stage, we’re expecting things to start to settle down probably Tuesday, I would say,” she said.

“There might be a little bit more wind left in the westerly flow Tuesday afternoon, but it’ll be a little less fresh than it will be today and Monday.

“It’s really Wednesday, though that we’ll see a shift in the pattern, we’ll have the ridge start to build and that will start to ease the flow.”

After a rainy start to the week forecast, conditions are expected to clear and warm on Thursday, with a top of 25 degrees Celsius expected on Friday.

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