Telstra outage puts pressure on police at Dragon Dreaming

DRAGON DREAMING: Rhi, Cat and Holly are ready to have a good time at the festival. Picture: Hannah Sparks
DRAGON DREAMING: Rhi, Cat and Holly are ready to have a good time at the festival. Picture: Hannah Sparks

The weekend’s Telstra outage put added pressure on already busy emergency services at the 10th anniversary of Dragon Dreaming in Wee Jasper.

However, the overall feeling from emergency services was that the festival ran smoothly, despite drug seizures and the conveyance of two people to hospital.

The mobile phone tower nearest the festival that emergency services had been relying on went down on Thursday night, said Sergeant Ed Taylor from the Hume Police District.

Instead of mobiles, police, the RFS and SES had to rely on their radios to report and respond to incidents.

It has been estimated there were more than 5,000 people of all ages at the three-day festival, including children and elderly.

Police responded again this year to the large number of drugs seized at the festival entrance.

“Drug detections were higher this year than ever before,” said Yass Police Inspector Alison Brennan, who stayed at the festival with officers from Thursday to Tuesday.

“Some very large amounts were seized and police and organisers have agreed that it was a positive outcome that those drugs did not make it through the gates.”

The Tribune saw cannabis, LSD, magic mushrooms and ketamine seized by police officers at a drug patrol set up with dogs and drug and alcohol tests some kilometres away from the festival at its main entrance.

Festival-goers charged with drug possessions will appear in Yass Local Court on January 31, 2019.

Emergency services were also called to assaults at Dragon Dreaming. Two people were also taken to hospital.

One was conveyed as the result of a domestic argument and the other in response to a heart problem, according to Matt Wood, the event’s emergency response coordinator.

The main issues for emergency services in the years it has been held at Wee Jasper is not so much the event, but the location. In a remote spot by the Murrumbidgee River, it’s an hour from a hospital and has a single lane as an access road.

“We will always object to the location of the festival and the risk that it presents,” said Inspector Brennan.

Views over Dragon Dreaming down by Murrumbidgee River in Wee Jasper.

Views over Dragon Dreaming down by Murrumbidgee River in Wee Jasper.

“However, the festival is run quite professionally and we will keep working with the organisers to make improvements to safety.”

One of the festival directors, Sarah, said people came to the festival for its community vibe.

Emerald-Adams, a regular festival-goers said she keeps coming back because of the “Beautiful community experience and the land.”

Some residents also said the festival was positive for the town’s economy, with festival-goers spending money in the days before and after on fuel, food and drink.