Wagga police lay charges on day one of The Burning Seed Festival at Matong

It sells out in hours, attracts around 4000 people and runs for six days of “experimental” participation in a remote section of Matong State Forest.

The Burning Seed festival has just started and already it’s kept Wagga police busy day and night.

“In the last 24 hours, we’ve had 12 people charged with drug possession or supply,” Wagga Police Sergeant Maggie Deall said. 

“We've had full legal processes, there’s been eight person searches, one move along and 17 drug detections in all.

“It’s extremely concerning. People out quite a distance from medical attention taking drugs where they obviously don’t know what may be in those drugs.”

Extra police from Transport Command have been deployed to patrol the festival, which police have set aside resources both night and day for.

Police Sergeant Maggie Deal on the Burning Seed festival drug charges

Police Sergeant Maggie Deal on the Burning Seed festival drug charges

On Thursday, 10 police were sent to the festival to conduct drug and random breath tests, with more charges expected.

“Obviously, with a festival like this, part of the scene involves drug taking but we didn’t expect this amount of drugs so early in the piece,” Sergeant Deall said.

Based on America’s Burning Man festival, the six-day festival highlight is the burning of a giant wooden man effigy and temple this weekend, before the festival disappears with a “leave no trace” policy. 

“The organisers have liaised quite extensively over the past few months,” Sergeant Deall said.

“We have put plans in place for health services to be involved, fire services to be involved, so we are addressing all of the different risk factors.” 

The free-range festival also allows children, but warns, “due to the radical self-expression manifests in many different ways, it’s not up to other Burners to check their behaviour in front of your kids.”

The Burning Seed event describes itself as, “together, we pool our resources, skills, ideas and imagination to create the funding, the city, the entertainment and the experience itself. 

“It's a week filled with art, Theme Camps, gifting, performances, crewing, music, fire and more. We also take care of our day-to-day needs and the environment, while we're there and when we leave.

“It is this very act of collaboration and participation that makes Burning Seed special, and our week culminates with the burning of the Effigy and the Temple before the city returns once more to forest.”