Annual literary favourite Words at Wagstaffe set to return in 2023

Words at Wagstaffe, a one-day literary event held in partnership between Words on the Waves Writers Festival and The Bouddi Society, will return to Wagstaffe Hall on Saturday 18 March 2023. This will be the third year this much-loved annual event will be offered, with past speakers including Judy Nunn, Meg Keneally, Garry Linnell, Jane Caro, Grace Karskens, Dianne O’Brien and more. On each occasion the event has booked out to capacity.

In 2023, the theme for Words at Wagstaffe is From the Frontline. Each speaker is united by a common factor: they have all reported from the coalface of action, be it a war zone, a news room, or a high stakes political forum. These will be exceptional tales, and all true. 

This energetic day of discussions and revelations from the frontline will include:

MELISSA ROBERTS, editor of Through Her Eyes: Australia’s Women Correspondents from Hiroshima to Ukraine in conversation with former Washington correspondent and anthology contributor KYLIE MORRIS

MIKE CARLTON, veteran journalist and author of the riveting naval history The Scrap Iron Flotilla, in conversation with historian JAN MCLEOD

IAN KEMISH AM, one-time Australian High Commissioner to Papua New Guinea and Ambassador to Germany, will give an insider’s account from Australia’s diplomatic frontline as captured in his fascinating book The Consul

ANITA JACOBY AM, distinguished TV producer uncovers her most explosive story hidden within her own family in Secrets Beyond the Screen. She will be joined in conversation by BENNY AGIUS

In commenting on the upcoming event, Bouddi Society Vice President Peter Park noted,It is a pleasure for the Bouddi Society to partner for the third year with Words on the Waves Writers Festival in bringing the unique and always well executed Words at Wagstaffe formula once again to our Bouddi Peninsula community. Like the topical focus in previous years, the 2023 theme ‘From the Frontline’ is a sure winner on our Society’s 2023 calendar, which we expect will again be a sell-out event.

Words on the Waves Festival Director Angela Bennetts says, “Words at Wagstaffe has become a beloved staple in the Central Coast literary calendar, with its simple and deeply rewarding formula: four intimate conversations held with incredibly interesting speakers. We look forward to partnering once more with The Bouddi Society on this wonderful event.”

Words at Wagstaffe: From the Frontline

A one-day literary event held as a partnership between The Bouddi Society and Words on the Waves Writers Festival
When: Saturday March 18, 2023
9:45am – 4:45pm
Where: Wagstaffe Hall

Cnr Mulhall Street and Wagstaffe Avenue

Wagstaffe NSW 2257

Tickets are $89 + booking fee for the full day, are available from 3 February via 


Mike Carlton In a working life of more than 50 years, Mike Carlton became one of Australia’s best-known media figures. He has been a radio and television news and current affairs reporter, foreign correspondent, radio host and newspaper columnist. Mike has had a life-long passion for naval history and has penned four books on the subject: Cruiser, First Victory, Flagship and his most recent book, The Scrap Iron Flotilla.

Ian Kemish AM served as Australian High Commissioner to Papua New Guinea, Ambassador to Germany, Head of the Prime Minister’s international division, and Head of the consular service in a diplomatic career that spanned twenty-five years. He was awarded membership of the Order of Australia for his leadership of Australia’s response to the 2002 Bali bombings. Ian is an adjunct Professor in history at the University of Queensland, a non-resident fellow with the Lowy Institute, a director of the Australia–Indonesia Centre and an Honorary Fellow of Deakin University. Ian is also actively engaged in the international development and not-for-profit sectors, and writes regularly on Indo–Pacific strategic issues. The Consul is his first book.

Kylie Morris has reported for the ABC, BBC and Channel Four News UK over the past three decades, with postings in the Middle East, Kabul and Bangkok. In 2014, she was appointed Washington correspondent by Channel Four News, and returned to Australia in 2019. She lives with her husband, Bharat Nalluri, two children and their dog in Newcastle, New South Wales. She travels with a lucky compass. She has been appearing on ABC radio, hosting programs such as Late Night Live.

Melissa Roberts covered China for Time Magazine, the Christian Science Monitor and The Daily Mail as a freelance journalist from 1988 to 1990 covering the chaotic years around the Tiananmen Square uprising. She has worked as a staff correspondent for The Australian in Sydney and Papua New Guinea, reported on federal politics from the press gallery, and covered Singapore and Australia for Newsweek magazine. Melissa has written five children’s books and is co-editor of The Beijing Bureau, published by Hardie Grant Books in 2021. 

Anita Jacoby AM is one of Australia’s most distinguished television producers. During her stellar 40-year career, she rose to the top of the media industry as one of few women appointed Managing Director of an international production company, ITV Studios. Prior to this, Anita managed Zapruder’s Other Films alongside Andrew Denton, responsible for the highly successful Enough Rope, The Gruen Transfer, Elders, Country Town Rescue, AFP and Hungry Beast. Anita has worked in senior production roles with all of Australia’s commercial networks, the ABC, SBS and Foxtel on programs such as 60 Minutes, Sunday, Witness, Today and LAWS. Her work has received ten nominations and four AFI/AACTA Awards, a Logie Award, an Order of Australia Media Award, a Human Rights Award and an Asia Broadcasting Union Award.  A leading advocate for women in media and leadership, Anita is currently Chair of the ABC Advisory Council, an Associate Member of the Australian Communications & Media Authority (ACMA) and a Board member of Chief Executive Women, Documentary Australia and Women in Media. In 2019 she was awarded a Member of the Order of Australia. Anita has recently published her first book, Secrets Beyond the Screen.


Words on the Waves is a not-for-profit literary festival based on the Central Coast, NSW. It held its inaugural event in June 2021 after a year of planning by a volunteer-led committee. Based on this initial success, the festival was able to double its programming in 2022, welcoming over 60 authors from across Australia. Approximately 2745 adult and 1375 student attendances were recorded across 30+ sessions, all of which were sold out or close to capacity. 

With author talks and panels, as well as evening conversation events, a cinema screening, literary cruise, family fun day, schools program and more, the festival offers a diverse range of high quality literary events for both the Central Coast community and visitors to the area. 

In 2023 Words on the Waves will expand on the successful formula established in 2021 and 2022, both during the festival period and year-round. 

Words on the Waves Writers Festival
When: Wednesday May 31 – Monday June 5, 2023

Where: Various venues around Umina Beach, Ettalong, Woy Woy and beyond on the Central Coast, NSW

More information: 

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