A bush doof festival that recently attracted almost 2,000 people to a rural WA town has split the community, with some impressed by its vibe, and others frustrated after four days of noise.

The multi-day Meliora Festival ran over New Year’s Eve in Newlands, near the South West town of Donnybrook, promoted as a celebration of “self-expression” and a showcase of house, psychedelic, drum and bass and techno tunes.

It is the first time the event has been held in the Donnybrook region.

For part of the festival, the music played 24 hours a day, prompting concerns from neighbours.

A DJ with hat and sunnies looks out at the crowd as he moves dials

The festival was held near Donnybrook in WA.(Supplied: Javiera Eguiguren/Wild Javi Photography)

Truck driver Collin Fisher lives about 1 kilometre from the festival ground.

“It was just doof doof music … it was so loud, I was on night shift and I couldn’t sleep any of the days — it just went non-stop,” he said.

“It was almost as loud as it could be, shaking the windows of the house.

“It was a very busy event but for us locals that live out there, at least move us somewhere else or put us up in a room somewhere.”

One local family, who made a complaint to the council, left their house 15km from the festival ground to camp in bushland around Manjimup.

Another resident told the ABC there should be curfews at any future events to ensure the music was turned off by 1am.

Should 24 hour music be allowed?

The Shire of Donnybrook has received six formal complaints about the festival.

Shire President Vivienne MacCarthy said the council would review the event and the continuous music.

“I think it’s pretty clear the decision to run the two stages continuously could be improved on next time,” she said

“[But] people that were worried about the noise, by far that’s outweighed by [other comments like], ‘Oh what a fantastic event’.

“We commented that it was a little bit like sitting in Fremantle because there were so many different languages and age groups that we don’t normally have in Donnybrook.

“We do need to bring youth to Donnybrook. We have an age demographic of 49, so it was lovely to sit around and see something different.”

Street lights in the shape of large apples hang over a town's main street

There main street of Donnybrook was bustling the week of the festival(ABC South West: Georgia Loney)

‘Small’ cost for a quiet town

Allan Bunter has owned a bakery in the main street for 25 years.

He said he had never seen the town bustling for such a long period.

“I would say takings were up 20 to 30 pe cent over that period of time … it was a steady flow of customers for almost the whole week,” he said.

“There’s obviously teething problems, because it was the first year of the festival … [but] these things are done to help the town — it’s a small cost.”

A man and woman stand playing guitars as people dance around.

About 2,000 people enjoyed the festival held in Donnybrook.(Supplied: Javiera Eguiguren/Wild Javi Photography)

Organisers see ‘bright’ future in Donnybrook

Live music events, known as  “bush doofs” are popping up in regional areas across the country.

Festival organiser Nina Celine Jahn said the event had a lot to offer festival-goers and the wider region.

“We wanted to give everyone a beautiful closing for 2023 and hopefully a better 2024 where everyone is just more kind to each other,” she said.

Ms Jahn said she would work with locals to ensure the event had a bright future in the region.

“If next year this show is happening again, we definitely can offer accommodation for the neighbours who are living close by and can’t sleep because apparently the music is too loud,” she said.

Help with backpacker shortage

Ms Jahn said the opportunities for Donnybrook stemming from the festival would continue to flow.

“We know that Donnybrook has a bit of a struggle with backpackers to do [farm work],” she said.

Four young people laughing and wearing hats

The local council says it wants to encourage younger people into the community.(Supplied: Javiera Eguiguren/Wild Javi Photography)

“So we also announced in our opening ceremony that Donnybrook is a very popular town for farms, for apple picking and other vegetable and fruit picking.

“In fact, some of the volunteers we had for pack-down, they left already to do some farm work.

“So I think this is very, very helpful for the town and the farmers.”



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