Maitreya Festival

Another year, another site. This time we are transported to a north-western part of Victoria, rural and isolated-a perfect place for a party, with its own challenges for recycling as most recycling collections rely on volume and economies of scale for viability. Suffice to say the choice of contractors was limited, so systems had to be devised around the infrastructure two 30 cubic meter skips, bulky and awkward at the best of times. But the hand sorting proved very effective as Maitreya managed to produce more recyclables than ever before, something they should be very proud of.

As luck would have it the very isolation and rural nature worked in our favour as the community surrounding Sea Lake were amazingly supportive, providing tractors to help with the clean up and a local crew to haul bins during the event. In fact the festival was an incredible opportunity for fundraising. Not your usual sports teams or Lions but a more noble objective, to buy a ‘plug’ to enable the dried up lake, surrounded by shady gum trees, to hold water once again.

2012

Maitreya returned to Carisbrook this year, with a few changes to the layout taking better advantage of the shady trees, creating a few more cosy spaces and squeezing in an impressive number of food and retail stores.

All was pretty straight forward in the waste management department, despite Maitreya goers still proving to be some of the messiest on our summer touring list with a dozen bins at the main stage standing half-filled and un-loved among piles of cans and debris on the dance floor. There was a big improvement in the campsite thanks to many more people doing the right thing when packing up (after a pep-talk from their conscience), though it did still seem too hard for some campers to put their trash in the huge skip bins provided.

After a relatively cruisey event, complete with a backstage spa bath provided by one of the stall holders, the cherry on the cake was thank you letter from local recycling centre praising our attention to detail. Thank you to all our volunteers and the punters for being onto it!

2011

Another year, another home for Maitreya. This time they’ve settled at the Carisbrook Harness Racing Track, which although is slightly more urban than their previous sites, it is handily serviced by 3 different waste companies. This means that bargains can be struck when working with tight budgetary constraints. Infrastructure requirements were based on waste and recycling quantities that was received in 2010 and 2009 but a big surprise came on the Sunday of the event when Green Chief had already filled it’s skips

with recycling. In fact we collected 250% of previous years in terms of recycling and re-useable stuff. The food waste was bound for the piggy-wiggies on a local farm and the paper and cardboard to a local mulching plant. Although recycling collection increased, so did landfill by roughly the same amount, with 8 sofa’s and 5 mattresses being the most we’ve ever collected at Maitreya. As punter numbers didn’t increase with a corresponding amount (although they did increase) this has led us to believe one thing….Maitreya festival goers are messier than ever.

In other news, The Varishard were joined by long-term supporters Lenka and Pavel who rinsed out the ‘Leave No waste’ message with a rather filthy Trash Flasher character. Anyone who came across the Trash Flasher would have been sickened into tidying up their campsite-quite horrible and hilarious in equal measures by all accounts. It did the job though and a vast amount of campsites left no trace as they left-some even separating their recycling into the fee-free recycling bags provided on the gate. Special mention also has to be made to the Marybrough Footie Club who provided crew every morning for the arena clean and every evening for the Loot Ute. Maitreya 2011 was one of those that worked because everyone pulled together and took ownership of the event, resulting in a very special feel-good vibe espoused on Main Stage by a passionate  Green Chief representative. Love it.

The last festival of the 2009/2010 season and GCS had been contracted to operate the Waste and Recycling on site. With last years ‘Love earth? Take your recycling home’ message successfully resulting in 50% of all waste and recycling being taken off site, we were keen to continue in the same vein. The main reason we promote this message is because some areas of Victoria have woefully few recycling facilities available, so any recycling must be transported across the state, for Maitreya this means a journey of 3 hours south, making recycling a more expensive (environmentally and physically) alternative to landfill. Luckily an event of this size-4,000 people max- can utilise smaller, local recycling companies without overwhelming them. Compost collected at Maitreya went to the Shepparton Stephanie Alexander Kitchen gardens participant schools and aluminium cans and glass was collected by the Echuca scrap metal dealer.

What made the event special was the localised typhoon which proceeded to dump water and high winds over the festival, resulting in localised flooding and all sorts of shinanigans with which the production crew had to deal with. Probably the highlight of the event for me was using a loudhailer to instruct everyone to ‘Stay here and party’ instead of attempting to leave and get trapped in rising floodwaters. Sadly many people abandoned tents and left almost their entire campsites to the water and mud, making the job of re-homing re-useable items a longer more arduous one.

A special mention goes out to the volunteers that turned up mid-typhoon and sorted recycling in a dedicated and sodden manner. Also the clean up crew deserve a special mention as they managed to clear the entire site in 16 hours. Mission accomplished!