Australian festival hailed ‘Fyre 2.0’ after 11,000 were evacuated

  • 11,000 people bought tickets to the Wine Machine festival in the Hunter Valley.
  • A huge thunderstorm disrupted the event, but reports suggest there were other problems too.
  • The $150 festival is now being described as Fyre 2.0.

The Wine Machine festival in the Hunter Valley, 244km north of Sydney, turned into a complete washout this weekend after a huge thunderstorm forced organisers to evacuate tens of thousands of people and cancel the headline act.

Attendees are criticising the organisers on social media and many of them are asking for their money back, with some even describing it as Fyre 2.0.

Heavy rains on Saturday night led to the formation of dangerous mud slides and the headline act, Hot Dub Time Machine, was cancelled as a result. Some 11,000 people were then evacuated in the dark and social media posts show that something of a stampede took place as police tried to get people to leave the event in a cordial manner.

Organisers of Wine Machine festival wrote on Facebook: “As those in attendance well know, The Hunter Valley last night experienced an extreme weather system that included torrential rain and a high multitude of lightning strikes within close proximity causing an initial show stop and eventual evacuation of the event.

“This sucked for every single person on site! The safety of all patrons, artists, and staff is of absolute priority. Evacuations of this nature are never pleasant.”

Festival attendee Cody Pepperall wrote on the Wine Festival Facebook event page: “I legit emailed them saying I want a refund or free tickets to next years event.”

Heavy rains aren’t the only thing they’re unhappy about.

Several of them are complaining that they had to wait two hours to get served a drink, and when they got to the front of the line, they were told they could only buy two alcoholic beverages at any one time.

Attendee Aimee Leigh told fellow festival goer on Facebook that she was lucky she only had to wait 30 minutes to get served, adding that she lined up in the rain for two hours to get two drinks.

“They should give us a few free bottles of wine too to make up for the queues and being kicked out into the rain!” wrote festival attendee Garry Laurence on Facebook.

Some attendees have also criticised the food that was on offer, with people saying festival organisers were charging $15 for pizzas that were still frozen in the middle when they were served.

Frustrated festival goers have compared the event to the notorious Fyre Festival, which was meant to take place in the Bahamas in 2017 but had to be cancelled due to countless issues including a lack of food and inadequate accommodation. The whole fiasco was turned into Netflix and Hulu documentaries.

The Wine Machine festival was held on the vast Roche Estate north of Cessnock on Saturday. It was touted as a showcase of the region’s best wine and food, with live music on offer as well.

“Wine Machine is a full-bodied day of wine, food and live music, showcasing both the splendour of our nation’s most picturesque wine regions and the spectacular music artists borne from Australian soil,” the festival’s website reads.

A spokesperson for Wine Machine festival provided Business Insider with the following statement on Monday:

Over the weekend 11,000 patrons attended the Wine Machine event at Roche Estate in the Hunter Valley. Toward the end of the event, personnel in the Event Control Centre who had been monitoring weather all day were made aware of an extreme storm cell rapidly approaching the event. The decision to evacuate was made in consultation with event medical, safety, police and emergency services officers and evacuation procedures were initiated circa 2130, 90 minutes prior to the scheduled end of the event after The Presets performance but prior to Hot Dub Time Machine’s performance.

The extreme weather system included torrential rain and a high multitude of lightning strikes within close proximity. The safety of all patrons, artists, and staff is of absolute priority. Evacuations of this nature in such extreme conditions are never pleasant. If you have feedback on the method by which police and or security managed this please email the WM team at [email protected] and we will come back to you personally. We take reports of over aggressive behaviour very seriously and will investigate accordingly.

We must also address bar lines earlier in the day. It must be noted the venue Roche Estate was a dry hire and not responsible for the bars. There were a number of external operators managing the event. Due to the current climate in NSW, severe licensing conditions were placed upon the event limiting drinks to two per person causing unacceptable congestion at the bars. Adding to this were staffing issues from our external bar operators Prime Collective who’ve issued the following statement:

Whilst licensing restrictions played a significant role in bar congestion at the Wine Machine NSW event, we must unreservedly apologise for our role in this and take full responsibility. Two of our staffing mini-buses carrying 32 staff were reportedly involved in an incident whilst en route from Sydney resulting in bars being under staffed.

We are currently investigating the circumstances of this and following up on the conditions of those staff involved. If you would like further information on this or the licensing restrictions please email us: [email protected] and we will come back to you.

Event medical, police and safety officers have commended the attendees of the event for an otherwise very well behaved crowd with minimal presentations and detections for an event of this size.

Lastly, stay tuned for an announcement from Hot Dub Time Machine who is planning to throw a complimentary make-up show for those disappointed he didn’t get to play.