Words at Wagstaffe 2024 line-up is truly criminal

2023 event featuring Mike Carlton and Jan McLeod in conversation

An all-star line-up in store for one-day literary event Words at Wagstaffe

Words at Wagstaffe, a much-loved staple in the Central Coast literary calendar, will return to Wagstaffe Hall on Saturday 16 March 2024. Held annually in partnership between Words on the Waves Writers Festival and The Bouddi Society, this will be the fourth year the one-day literary event has delighted a full-house crowd.

In 2024, Words at Wagstaffe drifts to the darker side of the tracks for a day of thrills, true crime and mystery with the theme ‘Truly Criminal.’

Joining the line-up is Australia’s homegrown king of crime, Michael Robotham, who continues to sharpen his Golden Dagger with his Joe O’Loughlin and Cyrus Haven series. Walkley Award-winning journalist Dan Box wades deep into a true story of lies, murder, and the Northern Territory. Central Coast writer Sarah Barrie brings her gritty and deeply complex hero, Lexi Winter. And Susan Duncan charms with a small-town mystery set on Stringybark Bay. It’s truly criminal how good this lineup is. 

On the day, attendees can look forward to:

MICHAEL ROBOTHAM, whose latest release is the standalone thriller Lying Beside You, will be in conversation with cinema doyenne MARGARET POMERANZ

DAN BOX will share the hard-to-believe true story of murder and injustice charted in The Man Who Wasn’t There with fellow investigative journalist, GARRY LINNELL 

Two Central Coast stars, SARAH BARRIE and ANNA DOWNES will take us on a thrilling journey through Barrie’s 2023 release Vendetta, as well as its predecessors Unforgiven and Retribution

Author of bestselling memoir Salvation Creek SUSAN DUNCAN will chat about her playful small-town pageturner Sleepless in Stringybark Bay with BENNY AGIUS

Bouddi Society President, Peter Park, expressed his delight in continuing the partnership for the fourth year with Words on the Waves Writers Festival. He commended the consistently impeccable execution of the ‘Words at Wagstaffe program,’ describing it as a “unique and professionally curated experience for the Bouddi Peninsula community.” Peter added, “the 2024 edition with its spotlight on thriller and crime writers will surely be a resounding success, with likely another sold-out event.”

Words on the Waves Festival Director Angela Bennetts says, “Words at Wagstaffe is always a deeply rewarding experience for the book-loving community of the Central Coast, and the 2024 program ‘Truly Criminal’ might be the best yet. We look forward to partnering once more with The Bouddi Society on this much-loved event.”

Words at Wagstaffe: Truly Criminal

A one-day literary event held as a partnership between The Bouddi Society and Words on the Waves Writers Festival
When: Saturday March 16, 2024
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 17 January via wordsonthewaves.com.au/words-at-wagstaffe-2024 


Anna Downes is an actor, author and audiobook narrator born and raised in the UK and now based in Australia. She is the author of two internationally bestselling novels, The Safe Place and The Shadow House, both of which have been translated into over ten different languages, with a third book, Red River Road, a road trip thriller set on the Coral Coast of WA, coming out in May 2024. Anna lives on the NSW Central Coast with her husband and two children.

Benny Agius has been in the book business for over 40 years, most recently as MD of Welbeck Publishing. She has worked on many bestsellers including The Tattooist of Auschwitz and  The Happiness Trap, and has worked with many international publishers taking Australian authors to a wider audience. She is also one of the founding members of the Words on the Waves Writers Festival and proudly calls the Central Coast home.

Dan Box is a Walkley Award-winning journalist and bestselling author. He has previously worked for The Australian, the BBC and London’s The Sunday Times. He has won awards in both the UK and Australia, including for investigative reporting, feature writing and true crime writing.

Garry Linnell is one of Australia’s most experienced journalists. Born and raised in Geelong, he has won several awards for his writing, including a Walkley for best feature writing. He has been editor-in-chief of The Bulletin, editor of The Daily Telegraph, director of news and current affairs for the Nine Network and editorial director of Fairfax. He spent four years as co-host of the Breakfast Show on 2UE and is also the author of a number of books – Football Ltd: The inside story of the AFL; Raelene: sometimes beaten, never conquered; Playing God: The rise and fall of Gary Ablett; and the bestselling Buckley’s Chance, Moonlite and The Devil’s Work.  

Margaret Pomeranz AM co-hosted The Movie Show on SBS and At The Movies on ABC with David Stratton for nearly three decades. She has served as a member of the Advertising Standards Board, is a past president of the Film Critics Circle of Australia and has been both president and vice-president of Watch on Censorship. Margaret also presented a movies and a review program Screen on Foxtel. She has a Bachelor of Arts from Macquarie University and was selected for the Playwright’s Studio at NIDA, after which she began writing for television, radio and film. She joined the newly established Special Broadcasting Service in 1980 as writer/producer, which led to her being appointed producer for David Stratton’s movie hostings. Some years later, in 1986, they were able to get The Movie Show up and running. The duo moved to the ABC in 2004 to establish At The Movies.

Michael Robotham is a former feature writer and investigative reporter, who has worked in Britain, Australia and America. His debut thriller, The Suspect, introduced clinical psychologist Joe O’Loughlin and sold more than a million copies around the world, launching a nine-book series. It has been adapted into an ITV series starring Aidan Turner. Michael’s standalone thriller The Secrets She Keeps has also been the basis of two BBC TV series. He has twice won the prestigious UK Crime Writers’ Association Gold Dagger Award for best crime novel, as well as the Ian Fleming Steel Dagger for When She Was Good, a Richard & Judy Book Club pick. Michael lives in Sydney.

Sarah Barrie is the author of nine novels, including her bestselling print debut Secrets of Whitewater Creek, the Hunters Ridge trilogy and the Calico Mountain trilogy. In a past life, while gaining degrees in arts, science and education, Sarah worked as a teacher, a vet nurse, a horse trainer and a magazine editor, before deciding she wanted to write novels. About the only thing that has remained constant is her love of all things crime. 

Susan Duncan spent her childhood in country Victoria where her father was supply officer for the Bonegilla Migrant Camp. When she was nine years old, her family moved to Melton, near Melbourne, to run a country pub where a rousing sing-along around the piano on a Saturday night was a lot of fun. After completing her secondary education at Clyde, Woodend, a girls’ boarding school, she took up a cadetship on the Melbourne Sun which led to a 25 year career spanning radio, newspapers and magazines.

Words at Wagstaffe 2023 lunch break


Words on the Waves is a not-for-profit organisation, and the first literary event of its kind to be held on the scenic Central Coast, New South Wales, Australia. 

Its main programming runs simultaneously across two venues with panoramic coastal views, Umina Beach Surf Life Saving Club and Ocean Beach Surf Lifesaving Club. In addition, Words on the Waves offers a literary cruise, headliner evening event, a poetry event, writing workshops, book launches, a schools program, keynote address and more. In 2024 Words on the Waves Writers Festival will expand to a new programming stream entitled ‘The Dip’ with thanks to Create NSW Arts & Cultural Funding Program – 2022/23 Round 2. The Dip will take place in an adjacent parklands area and will offer a range of low-cost and free literary and book-oriented events across the festival weekend in a large marquee.

The fourth annual Words on the Waves Writers Festival will take place May 29 – June 3. 2024

Words on the Waves Writers Festival
When: Wednesday May 29 – Monday June 3, 2024

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

More information: https://wordsonthewaves.com.au/ 

Sign up for updates: http://bit.ly/WordsOnWaves


10 January 2024

Words at Wagstaffe Program release 

17 January 2024

Words at Wagstaffe Ticketing release

$89 + booking fee for full day

21 February 2024

Festival Theme and first author reveal

6 March 2024

Festival Early Birds Ticketing release and second author reveal

$140 for a Weekend Pass ($38 discount!)

16 March 2024

Words at Wagstaffe, a one-day literary event

17 April 2024

Festival Program and ticketing release

Prices vary

24 April 2024

The Dip Program and ticketing release (new festival venue and Program)

29 May – 3 June 2024

Words on the Waves Writers Festival

>> FOR ALL MEDIA REQUESTS PLEASE CONTACT program@wordsonthewaves.com.au