Falls Festival pulls out of permit approval process to host Victorian editions in Murroon due to “time and expense”

The festival’s producer noted that the local community and council members had supported their efforts to secure a permit in the regional location

Secret Sounds has confirmed its withdrawal from a permit approval process that would allow the promoter to host future iterations of the Falls Festival in Murroon, Victoria.

This year’s Falls was initially slated to go down at the Pennyroyal Plains in Birregurra – a town in Murroon, and a short move south from the festival’s former home in Lorne – however it was moved to Melbourne in September when Secret Sounds (the company that organises the festival, as well as others like Splendour In The Grass) was unable to secure permission to use the Pennyroyal site.

Organisers had planned for this year’s Melbourne relocation to be temporary – the festival’s regional setting is one of its selling points – with Secret Sounds moving to secure a more ironclad permit for its proposed site in Murroon.


In a press release issued today (December 9), however, Jessica Ducrou – Falls’ producer and Secret Sounds’ co-CEO – explained that “a small group of objectors opposed the planning permit approval for Falls Birregurra in Murroon, Victoria and applied to the Victorian Civil Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) to put a halt to it”.

She continued: “Unfortunately, following initial compulsory mediation, the parties could not achieve a resolution and a hearing was set for late February early March next year. Given the time and expense, we have decided to withdraw from the approval process. The festival industry is recovering from the pandemic and a long, expensive process pursuing this application is something we’ll need to reassess in the new year.”

Ducrou said that she and her team had spent two years consulting and planning for the permit approval process, and had received support from both locals and members of the Colac Otway Council.

“We thank all the community and stakeholders who have supported the Falls Festival to date,” she said, pointing to “numerous economic impact studies” that prove events like Falls to be beneficial to regional communities, as they “provide the area with tens of millions of dollars in economic stimulus and short-term employment for locals over the period of the festival”.

As reported by the South Coast Times in May, opposition owed primarily to farmers in the region, who argued that Falls would impact cattle on neighbouring farms and “a culturally-significant site nearby the proposed festival location”. One farmer, Chris Roberts, said at the time: “We’ve heard all about the businesses that are going to benefit from this. But my business is farming. How is this going to affect us, and what are we going to get out of this festival going forward? I don’t know.”

Ducrou’s claim of council support was backed up by a statement from Chris Potter, mayor of the Colac Otway Shire, who said: “Council approved the issue of a permit for a Falls music festival near Birregurra and was looking forward to the social, cultural and economic benefits that a major event brings to the region.


“We are disappointed that Secret Sounds has had to withdraw from the VCAT process at this time, but look forward to continuing to work with them on future opportunities.”

It’s unclear as of yet what this means for the future of Falls in Victoria. This year’s Melbourne edition will go ahead as planned on Thursday December 29, Friday 30 and Saturday 31, with its line-up featuring the likes of Arctic Monkeys, Lil Nas X, Peggy Gou, Chvrches, Jamie xx and Aminé.

Set times and maps for the event – as well as those in Byron Bay and Fremantle – were released earlier this week.

Stay tuned to NME for more Australia music festival news

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