Annual one-day literary event Words at Wagstaffe sells out, is deemed “standout success”

Mike Carlton in conversation with Jan McLeod

On Saturday 18 March 2023 an energetic crowd flocked to Words at Wagstaffe for a full day of conversations between some of Australia’s best-known journalists and public figures. 

This is the third time the annual event has been held in partnership between local not-for-profit Words on the Waves Writers Festival and community group The Bouddi Society.

The sold-out event featured the theme From the Frontline with speakers ranging from broadcasters to foreign correspondents, consular officials to emerging authors. Veteran journalist Mike Carlton shared stirring stories of reporting from the Vietnam War alongside interviewer and local historian Jan McLeod. Former Washington foreign correspondent Kylie Morris shared hair-raising tales of working in Trump’s America, while Melissa Roberts gave accounts of reporting from Tiananmen Square during the 1989 crackdown. Prominent TV producer Anita Jacoby revealed the secrets behind high-profile interviews with Christopher Skase, Bill Clinton and more. Finally, the crowd heard from former Head Consul and one-time Australian High Commissioner to Papua New Guinea and Ambassador to Germany, Ian Kemish.


Kylie Morris in conversation with Melissa Roberts

The event, which took place in the charming community hub Wagstaffe Hall, commenced with a deeply moving Welcome to Country courtesy of Paul Craig of Girri Girra. The assembled crowd learned key phrases in local tongue, and heard more about the incredible history of Guringai leader Bungaree. 

Many commented on the day’s seamless organisation, with crucial support offered by The Bouddi Society, an array of Words on the Waves volunteers, as well as local independent bookstore The Book Shop. Central Coast Newspapers were represented on the day as Media Partner.

Words on the Waves is now looking ahead to the main festival, which will take place May 31 – June 5, 2023. The full program and tickets will be released Friday April 21, 2023. For more information head to

Charlotte Wood asks an audience question

Anita Jacoby in conversation with Benny Agius

Ian Kemish in conversation with Clare Blumer