Words at Wagstaffe

Saturday 26th March 2022 9:45 – 17:00
Wagstaffe Hall, 55 Wagstaffe Avenue, Wagstaffe, Central Coast, NSW.

DAY PASS $89 + booking fee

Saturday 26th March 2022 9:45am – 17:00

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 26 March 2022.

In 2021, this one-day event featured writers such as Judy Nunn, Meg Keneally, Vicki Hastrich and Andrew Kwong. With conversations ranging over memoir, history, and historical fiction, it completely sold out within 48 hours.

In 2022, please join us for four unmissable conversations covering true crime, the Stolen Generations, motherhood, history and more.

There will be book signing and sales after each session, with thanks to our partner The Book Shop Umina.

Entry is $89 + booking fee for access to all sessions.

The doors will open at 9.00am, and the event will start at 9:45am with Acknowledgement of Country and welcome notes. Your promptness is appreciated.

There will be lunchboxes available to order on the day.


9:45am – 10:00am


Introductions & ‘Acknowledgement of Country’

10:00am – 11:00am

Dianne O’Brien

Daughter of the River Country

Dianne O’Brien & Benny Agius

A heart-stirring memoir of abuse, survival – and ultimately hope. Daughter of the River Country charts the life story of Dianne O’Brien, who despite immense hardship goes onto become an inspirational community leader.

11:00am – 11:30am


Book Signings with The Book Shop Umina

11:30am – 12:30pm

Garry Linnell

The Devil’s Work

Garry Linnell & Suzanne Leal

Could Jack the Ripper have been Australian? Delve into this fascinating true story of mad-and-bad Frederick Deeming, and the serial murders that shocked the world, with experienced journalist Garry Linnell.

12:30pm – 1:30pm


Book Signings & Lunch Break

1:30pm – 1:45pm

Andrew Menken

Winner of the Allen & Unwin Creative Writing Grant

Andrew Menken & Patrick Gallagher

Budgewoi poet Andrew Menken is the recipient of the most recent Allen & Unwin Creative Writing grant from the Bouddi Foundation for the Arts. Patrick Gallagher, Chairman of Allen & Unwin publishing oversees this award and he will interview Andrew.

1:45pm – 2:45pm

Plain Speaking Jane: Jane Caro

Plain Speaking Jane: on The Mother, feminism & more

Jane Caro & Anna Downes

Walkley Award-winning journalist and broadcaster Jane Caro has for years captivated us with her searing social commentary. Now, she turns her hand to fiction with the ‘dark and exhilarating’ thriller, The Mother.

2:45pm – 3:15pm


Book Signings with The Book Shop Umina

3:15pm – 4:15pm

Lost Worlds & Real Secret Rivers: Grace Karskens

Lost Worlds & Real Secret Rivers

Grace Karskens & John Maynard

Wrapping up the day will be inimitable local author Grace Karskens, recent winner of the PM’s Literary Award for Australian History. Her work on the country’s most ancient waterways, the Hawkesbury-Nepean, is important and transcendent.

4:15pm – 4:45pm


Book Signings with The Book Shop Umina


Daughter of the River Country: Dianne O’Brien

Dianne O’Brien

Dianne O’Brien (known as Aunty Di) is currently the Chairperson of Mingaletta Corporation, an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community hub. In 2017, she was named ‘NSW Grandparent of the Year’. She has held many senior positions in government organisations and has also worked in legal services and as a drug and alcohol counsellor. She lives on the Central Coast of NSW, Australia. Her memoir, Daughter of the River Country, was published in 2021.

Benny Agius

Benny Agius (Moderator)

Benny Agius has been in the book business for over 40 years, and currently 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.  

The Devil’s Work: Garry Linnell

Garry Linnell

Garry Linnell is one of Australia’s most experienced journalists. He has been editor-in-chief of The Bulletin, editor of The Daily Telegraph, director of news and current affairs for the Nine Network, editorial director of Fairfax and co-host on 2UE’s Breakfast Show. Past works include Buckley’s Chance and Moonlite. Published in October 2021, The Devil’s Work is his latest.

Suzanne Leal

Suzanne Leal (Moderator)

Suzanne Leal is the author of novels The Teacher’s Secret, Border Street and The Deceptions, for which she won the Nib People’s Choice Prize and was shortlisted for the Davitt Awards and the Mark and Evette Moran Nib Literary Award. A regular presenter at literary events, board member of the BAD Sydney Crime Writers Festival and co-presenter of the BAD All About Crime podcast, Suzanne is the host of Thursday Book Club, a relaxed, friendly book club connecting readers online.

Andrew Menken

Andrew Menken

Andrew Menken lives and writes on the Central Coast of New South Wales. He is doing a PhD at the University of Newcastle and is composing a book-length collection of poems that centres around his little hometown of Budgewoi. Andrew’s work has previously been published in SWAMP and Quadrant. In his free time, Andrew is either playing guitar, swimming at the beach or challenging his mother to another game in their endless Scrabble tournament.

Patrick Gallagher

Patrick Gallagher (Moderator)

Patrick Gallagher established Allen & Unwin as a one man band in 1976, and it has grown over 45 years to become the largest independent book publisher in Australia. The company publishes some 200 books per year, including fiction, non-fiction and childrens’ books. We are proud to publish a wide range of young and emerging writers, and hope that the Bouddi Award for Writing will encourage young writers on the Central Coast.

Plain Speaking Jane: Jane Caro

Jane Caro

Jane Caro AM is a Walkley Award-winning Australian columnist, author, novelist, broadcaster, advertising writer, documentary maker, feminist and social commentator. She has published twelve books, writes regular columns in Sunday Life, and frequently appears on Q&AThe Drum and Sunrise. The Mother is her first novel for adults.

Anna Downes

Anna Downes (Moderator)

Anna Downes was born and raised in Sheffield, UK, but now lives just north of Sydney, Australia with her husband and two children. She studied Drama at the University of Manchester, trained to be an actress at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London, and worked extensively in television and theatre before turning her attention to writing. Her internationally bestselling debut novel, The Safe Place, was published in 2020 and shortlisted for the 2021 Davitt Award for Best Crime Debut. The Shadow House, her keenly anticipated second book, hit Australian shelves in October 2021 and will be released in the US and the UK in April 2022.

Lost Worlds & Real Secret Rivers: Grace Karskens

Grace Karskens

Grace Karskens is Emeritus Professor of History in the School of Humanities and Languages at the University of New South Wales. She is the author of The Colony, winner of the 2010 Prime Minister’s Non-fiction Award, and of The Rocks, winner of the 1998 NSW Premier’s History Award. Her 2020 book People of the River: Lost Worlds of Early Australia won the PM’s Literary Award for Australian History.

John Maynard

John Maynard (Moderator)

Emeritus Professor John Maynard is a Worimi Aboriginal man from the Port Stephens region of New South Wales. He is currently Chair of Aboriginal History at the University of Newcastle and Director of the Purai Global Indigenous History Centre.

About The Bouddi Society

The Bouddi Society

The Bouddi Society is a community group which organises public events and publications aimed at displaying and fostering the artistic, historical and cultural life of the local community. It administers the Bouddi Foundation for the Arts which is dedicated to supporting and encouraging young artists on the Central Coast of NSW.

Support our Festival

As a not-for-profit organisation run with a small team of volunteers, contributions of any size go a long way in enriching the creative culture of our community. The Committee includes local Peninsula residents passionate about bringing the arts to the Coast. We are seeking support from the community to help us create a wonderful and inclusive festival.