Chilling text to New Year revellers
Festival-goers welcoming in the new year at Falls Festivals across Australia have been sent an unnerving text message warning after yet another music festival tragedy this weekend.
The "serious drug alert" popping up on revellers' phones comes after a man died and two others were hospitalised from suspected drug overdoses at a separate festival this weekend.
It warned those at the annual music and camping festival - which runs from December 29-31 at Lorne in Victoria, Marion Bay in Tasmania and Byron Bay in New South Wales - of a lethal orange drug.
Festival chiefs say its medical teams had alerted them to the orange pill that was "currently in circulation across Australia".
"Regardless of pill variation, we want to remind everyone of the potentially fatal risks that come with illicit substances," the warning says.
"You do not know what is in them, how your body will react, there is no safe level of consumption. One pill can kill."
It then asks festival-goers to dispose of any drugs they have.
It comes after Joshua Tam, 22, died after taking an "unknown substance" at a music festival north of Sydney on Saturday.
The Brisbane man had travelled to Glenworth Valley, on the NSW Central Coast, for the Lost Paradise music festival, kicking off on Friday and due to run until Tuesday.
Police claim the man ingested an "unknown substance" on the second day of the festival and was raced to Gosford Hospital after suffering an adverse reaction to the drug at about 8pm on Saturday.
He died shortly after he arrived at hospital.
A man and woman remain in hospital in a stable condition after ingesting an unknown substance and becoming sick at the festival which advertises itself as a drug-free event.
Mr Tam's death comes a few weeks after 19-year-old Callum Brosnan died from a suspected drug overdose at a hardcore music festival in Sydney.
The teenage musician died after attending the Knockout Games of Destiny dance party at Sydney's Olympic Park.
Following Mr Brosnan's death, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said her government had already taken action by proposing tougher laws for dealers selling lethal drugs.
The NSW Government also announced new licensing regulations to help combat the issue but they won't be in place until after summer.
However, she yet again ruled out pill testing.
After the second death in NSW this month, the national campaign for drug law reform, "Take Control", has pleaded with the Premier to reconsider her opposition to pill testing and "make music festivals safer".
"This is the second tragic festival death this month. It's terrible news and our thoughts are with the family and friends. As always, we must be respectful of the family and remember that every single life is precious," Ted Noffs Foundation CEO and campaign spokesman Matt Noffs said.
"Please Premier - this is not the time to blindly follow the 'just say no' failed strategy. Please at least listen to the evidence and come to the table so that we can make music festivals safer.
"Young people can get drugs easily, but don't know what they are taking. In responding to tragedy we must sometimes face hard truths. Decades of a punitive approach where we arrest young people has not worked. It is time to take practical steps to make parties safer for our kids."
However, police had a simpler message for festival-goers.
"The best safety message is don't take drugs," Brisbane Water Police District Commander Acting Superintendent Rod Peet said in a statement yesterday.
"Police have had a significant response in relation to this event. The planning has been extensive over the last three months."
Police launched a major drug operation across the Lost Paradise festival, searching guests, camping tents and vehicles for drugs.
More than 180 people and 97 vehicles were searched during the festival's police drug dog operation and three people were charged with drug supply.
Drugs had been secreted in false compartments within Vegemite jars and inserted into the stuffing of a barbecued chicken, police said on Sunday.
A total of 184 people and almost 100 vehicles have been searched so far.
More than 50 people have been issued with court notices for drug possession and three people have been charged with drug supply offences.
A 21-year-old man was allegedly found with 105 MDMA pills and was charged with drug supply.
Officers found a 23-year-old man carrying 80 MDMA pills and 65 bags of cocaine.
Another 23-year-old man had also stashed 26 MDMA pills and was charged with drug supply.
- with Rhian Deutrom