Hot on the heels of “buzzing” third annual event, Words on the Waves Writers Festival announce success in NSW Government funding for 2024

Words on the Waves Writers Festival has been successful in the recent Create NSW Arts & Cultural Funding Program – 2022/23 Round 2, for the development of a new programming stream entitled ‘The Dip’. The Dip is an expansion of the existing Words on the Waves Writers Festival program to an adjacent parklands area. This will offer a range of low-cost and free literary and book-oriented events across the festival weekend in a large marquee.

This is welcome news hot on the heels of the Words on the Waves’ third annual festival, which ran May 31 – June 5,  2023. With close to 75 speakers appearing in approximately 65 free and ticketed sessions, the festival explored the theme ‘the mind swims’.

For the first time, in 2023 the festival offered an opening address in partnership with the Central Coast’s premier arts venue, The Art House Wyong, as well as a professional development stream in partnership with Faber Writing Academy and Writing NSW. It also doubled the free community book launches, partnering with a number of venues to spotlight local authors. Also for the first time, it partnered with a local artist (Minka Gillian) for its unique festival branding.

Travelling to the region just for the festival, authors included Australian bestseller Craig Silvey (from Fremantle, WA); author of The Dictionary of Lost Words, Pip Williams (Adelaide Hills, SA); thriller writer JP Pomare (Melbourne, Victoria); literary and sports writer Jock Serong (regional Victoria);  Wirlomin Noongar woman Claire G Coleman (Victoria); and Inga Simpson (from the South Coast of NSW). Other highlights included playwright Louis Nowra, celebrated actor Heather Mitchell, musician and novelist Holly Throsby, Miles Franklin winner Jennifer Down and many more.

Acclaimed author Inga Simpson commented: “A wonderful festival. I really enjoyed the sessions, the location and the lovely vibe. An absolute pleasure to be part of. I thought it was the best program I have seen this year.” Author and podcaster Ashley Kalagian Blunt said it was, “a stellar contribution to Australian literary culture!”

Approximately 3568 adult and 1500 local student attendances were recorded across the festival period. Words on the Waves is the first and only writers festival to take place on the Central Coast.

In 2023, the festival was also able to double its Schools Program under the new branding of ‘Ripples’ with the support of the NSW Government through Create NSW Exploring the theme ‘When Fish Fly: The Power of Possibility’, Ripples catered to both Primary and Secondary School students in both the North and South end of the Central Coast, with authors such as Gary Lonesborough, Samera Kamaleddine, Jeremy Lachlan, Nat Amoore and Samantha Tidy sparking creativity and a love of words with 15 participating schools. On Sunday June 4, for the first time it was able to offer its Family Fun Day for free at Everglades Woy Woy, with a full day of storytelling, illustration demos, book launches and more as part of its mission to foster a love of reading in the next generation of readers and writers.

Our survey results indicate that 99% would attend Words on the Waves in the future, with an average rating of 4.55 stars/5. The majority of attendees surveyed purchased either a book, beverage, accommodation or other while at the festival, thus driving indirect economic contribution to local small businesses. Of those surveyed, 38% came from out of the region.

Local independent bookseller, The Book Shop Umina reported the following books as the Top Ten bestsellers for the festival:

  1. Madukka: The River Serpent by Julie Janson (UWAP)
  2. Everything and Nothing by Heather Mitchell (Allen & Unwin)
  3. Kindness by Kath Koschel (Allen & Unwin)
  4. Runt by Craig Silvey (Allen & Unwin)
  5. Over the Hill and Up the Wall by Todd Alexander (HarperCollins)

Equal 6th. One Italian Summer by Pip Williams (Affirm Press)
Equal 6th. Man-Made by Tracey Spicer (Simon & Schuster)
Equal 8th. Chai Time at Cinnamon Gardens by Shankari Chandran (Ultimo Press)
Equal 8th. Song of the Sun God by Shankari Chandran (Ultimo Press)
Equal 8th. Honeybee by Craig Silvey (Allen & Unwin)
Equal 8th. The Bookbinder of Jericho by Pip Williams (Affirm Press)

Words on the Waves Chair Jacqui Barton stated: “We celebrated by gathering acclaimed writers, thinkers, and change makers that came together engaging in thoughtful debate and dialogue. Conversations that make the unconscious conscious in an irreversible way. This celebration of literature, arts and culture is passionately brought together by our festival organisers and volunteers and by the support of our sponsors and partners. A huge Congratulations to the Words on the Waves team, and I look forward to what 2024 brings.”

Words on the Waves Festival Director Angela Bennetts said: “The resounding success of the 2023 program shows that the people of the Central Coast believe, as we do, that regional areas deserve arts and culture just as much as the major cities. We are so delighted with this year’s Words on the Waves Writers Festival, which was an absolutely buzzing week of stories, conversations and ideas, with some of Australia’s best writers and journalists. We look forward to doing it all again in 2024.

More details around The Dip program as part of Words on the Waves 2024 will be forthcoming.

With sincere thanks to our Partners:


Words on the Waves is a not-for-profit literary festival, the first of its kind for the Central Coast region. Its mission is to deliver an immersive annual festival of stories, ideas and connection, set against the scenic Central Coast, and to enrich the cultural landscape of the region year-round. Its vision is to become one of Australia’s leading regional literary festivals, known for its vibrant and diverse program as well as its unique setting.

It held its inaugural event June 11 – 14, 2021 after a year of planning by a volunteer-led committee. Its second event took place June 3 – 6, 2022, and its third May 31 – June 5, 2023.

The festival encompasses two full days of author talks and panels held concurrently across two venues, as well as an evening conversation event, an opening address event, professional development stream, late night poetry readings, a literary cruise, a storytelling evening, family fun day and schools program, writing workshops and book launch program for local authors.

In 2024 Words on the Waves Writers Festival will take place from Wednesday May 29 to Monday June 3.


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