Saturday June 12

Ocean Beach Surf Lifesaving Club
176 The Esplanade, Umina Beach

DAY PASS $89 + booking fee
15% discount for WEEKEND PASS

Saturday 12 June 9:45 – 17:30

The inaugural Words on the Waves Writers Festival will be held on the scenic Central Coast, NSW over the June long weekend (1114 June, 2021).

Words on the Waves Writers Festival will see a diverse range of writers come together to celebrate writing, literature, and Australia’s cultural and environmental future. With two days of storytelling, author talks and panels, the festival’s aim is to connect with each other, with inspiration, with environment and with country. (And, our venue is a stone’s throw from the beach – with possibly the best festival venue view in Australia!)

Please note that this will be a COVID-compliant event. Ticket refunds will be available if COVID restrictions force the cancellation of the event, at the discretion of the event organiser.


9:45am – 10:00am


Introduction & ‘Welcome to Country’

With Aunty Di.

10:00am – 11:00am


A Repurposed Life

Ronni Kahn. Moderator: Lou Johnson.

OzHarvest founder Ronni Kahn has been described as a, “one-woman freight train for the force of good.” From a childhood living under apartheid in South Africa, to a socialist commune in Israel and eventually to the homeless shelters of Sydney where she started a food waste revolution, this is a story that has to be heard to be believed.

11:00am – 11:30am


Book Signings with Authors

With thanks to Festival Bookshop, The Bookshop Umina.

11:30am – 12:30pm


On Truth, Brains, Money & more

Malcolm Knox, Bri Lee, Rick Morton. Moderator: Rick Morton

Who gets to decide who is smart? Why do some people have money, while others go hungry? And what is truth, if it can be so easily distorted? As a society, we are increasingly grappling with these defining ideas, and these authors have gone further than most in dissecting them. Please join us for what promises to be a lively and incisive discussion.

Please note: Due to personal reasons, Bridie Jabour unfortunately can no longer join Words on the Waves Festival. 

12:30pm – 1:30pm


Lunch Break & Book Signings

1:30pm – 2:30pm


The Climate Changemakers

Natalie Isaacs & Daisy Jeffrey. Moderator: Tim Silverwood.

Who are the climate changemakers? Meet some of those fighting from the ground up the greatest existential crisis ever faced by humans. Daisy Jeffrey is a student activist who organised the school climate strikes in Sydney and who has recently published On Hope. Natalie Isaacs founded 1 Million Women, a global movement empowering women to make a powerful change every single day and is author of the book Every Woman’s Guide to Saving the Planet. Join us for an exciting conversation tabling their visions for a climate cure and a future that is brimful of hope.

Please note: Due to unforeseen circumstances, Professor Tim Flannery unfortunately can no longer join Words on the Waves Festival. 

2:30pm – 3:00pm


Book Signings with Authors

With thanks to Festival Bookshop, The Bookshop Umina.

3:00pm – 4:00pm


A Rollicking History

David Hunt, Garry Linnell. Moderator: Michael Bennett

Bringing the past to beautiful and bloody life on the page, these authors give a vivid voice to history. Whether that be the colourful backstory of Australian bad language; the mythical figure of Captain Moonlite; or the true but definitely unauthorised history of our land girt by sea; travel in time with us.

Please note: Due to health reasons, Amanda Laugesen unfortunately can no longer join Words on the Waves Festival. 

4:00pm – 4:30pm


Book Signings with Authors

With thanks to Festival Bookshop, The Bookshop Umina.

4:30pm – 5:30pm


Love, Family & Other Catastrophes

Emily Maguire, Vivian Pham, Nardi Simpson. Moderator: Joy Lawn

From the myth-laden streets of Cabramatta to the fictional town of Darnmoor, a hoarder’s home in Leichhardt and beyond, these stories share the glowing but tangled threads of love, family, memory, community and living life on the periphery. Full of heart, warmth, and human truth, please sit in to hear more about the incredible books from Emily Maguire (Love Objects), Nardi Simpson (Song of the Crocodile) and Vivian Pham (The Coconut Children).

5:30pm – 6:00pm


Book Signings with Authors

With thanks to Festival Bookshop, The Bookshop Umina.


Ronni Kahn

Ronni Kahn is a South-African-born Australian social entrepreneur and founder of food rescue charity OzHarvest. She is an advocate, lobbyist and activist renowned for disrupting the food waste landscape in Australia. She appears regularly in national media, serves in an advisory capacity to government and is an international keynote speaker.

Lou Johnson

Lou Johnson is the Publishing Director of Murdoch Books. She has previously held senior roles across leading publishing houses, including Managing Director for Simon and Schuster and founding her own publishing start-up, before joining Murdoch Books in 2016.

Malcolm Knox

Malcolm Knox is the former literary editor and award-winning cricket writer of the Sydney Morning Herald, where he broke the Norma Khouri story, for which he won one of his three Walkley Awards. He is the highly acclaimed author of seven novels and numerous works of non-fiction.

Bri Lee

Bri Lee is an award-winning author and freelance writer. Her first book, Eggshell Skull, won six major awards and was listed for several others. Her second book, an essay called Beauty, was released in 2019. Bri’s latest book is Who Gets to be Smart and is an examination of privilege, power, and knowledge. Her journalism, commentary, analysis, and arts criticism, has been published in The Saturday Paper, The Guardian Australia, Good Weekend and elsewhere.

Rick Morton

Rick Morton has been a journalist and writer for over 14 years. In 2019, Rick left The Australian, where he worked as the social affairs writer with a particular focus on social policy, and he is now a Senior Reporter for The Saturday Paper. Rick’s latest book is My Year of Living Vulnerably.

Bridie Jabour – No Longer Attending

Bridie Jabour is opinion editor at Guardian Australia. She is the author of the novel The Way Things Should Be and a book of essays to be released in July, Trivial Grievances.

Tim Flannery – No Longer Attending

Tim Flanneryis a scientist, an explorer, a conservationist and a leading writer on climate change. He has held various academic positions and his books include the award-winning international bestseller The Weather MakersHere on Earth and Atmosphere of Hope. Flannery was the 2007 Australian of the Year. He is currently chief councillor of the Climate Council.

Natalie Isaacs

Natalie Isaacs is the founder and CEO of 1 Million Women, a global movement of women and girls who take practical action to fight climate change by changing the way they live. Under Natalie’s leadership, 1 Million Women has become one of Australia’s largest networks acting on climate change and is rapidly expanding internationally, with more than 800,000 women and counting. A sought-after presenter and The Australian Geographic society’s 2017 Conservationist of Year, Natalie delivers a simple message that resonates with women and girls of all ages, cutting through complexity with the story of her climate journey from apathy to action. She is a pioneer in the gender and climate change arena in Australia, and is recognised and supported by some of the world’s most influential women climate leaders.

Daisy Jeffrey

Daisy Jeffrey is a 17-year-old high school student and organiser in the school climate strikes, the most recent of which was one of the largest protests in Australian history, galvanising over 300,000 people to demand climate action. Daisy is also a fierce champion for gender equality. She lives in Sydney.

Tim Silverwood

Tim Silverwood is an award-winning environmentalist committed to reducing human impacts on the natural world. A keen surfer, Tim became alarmed at the risks plastic pollution posed to our oceans and wildlife, co-founding the not-for-profit organisation ‘Take 3 for the Sea’ in 2009.

David Hunt

David Hunt is the author of the bestselling and award-winning Girt: The Unauthorised History of Australia and True Girt. Girt Nation will be released later this year. David is also a children’s book author, television presenter and podcaster, and has a birthmark that looks like Tasmania, only smaller and not as far south.

Amanda Laugesen – No Longer Attending

Amanda Laugesen is a historian and lexicographer, and is currently director of the Australian National Dictionary Centre at the ANU, and chief editor of the Australian National Dictionary: Australian Words and Their Origins. She is the author of a number of books in Australian and US history.

Garry Linnell

Garry Linnell, one of Australia’s most experienced journalists, is the author of Moonlite and Buckley’s Chance. A Walkley Award winner for best feature writing, he has been editor-in-chief of The Bulletin, editor of The Daily Telegraph and director of news and current affairs for the Nine Network.

Michael Bennett

Michael Bennett is a Sydney-based historian specialising in native title and the Aboriginal history of NSW. His book Pathfinders, examining the fascinating stories of Aboriginal trackers who worked for the police capturing bushrangers and finding people lost in the bush, was published by NewSouth in 2020.

Emily Maguire

Emily Maguire is the author of six novels, including the Stella Prize and Miles Franklin Award-shortlisted An Isolated Incident, and three non-fiction books. Her articles and essays on sex, feminism, culture and literature have been published widely. Emily works as a teacher and as a mentor to young and emerging writers and was the 2018/2019 Writer-in-Residence at the Charles Perkins Centre at the University of Sydney.

Vivian Pham

Vivian Pham is a Vietnamese-Australian fiction writer, closet poet, amateur screenwriter, university student and hopeful dropout if any of the aforementioned ventures take flight. Her father was a Vietnamese boat refugee, and she grew up loving stories because she knew there was one inside of him. In 2018 and 2019, Vivian attended the International Congress of Youth Voices and shared a stage with incongruously successful writers and activists like Dave Eggers, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Rep. John Lewis and Khaled Hosseini. It is her greatest hope to have an impact on political issues through her creative work.

Nardi Simpson

Nardi Simpson is a Yuwaalaraay writer, musician, composer and educator from North West NSW freshwater plains. A founding member of Indigenous folk duo Stiff Gins, Nardi has been performing nationally and internationally for 20 years. Her debut novel, Song of the Crocodile, was a 2018 winner of a black&write! writing fellowship.

Joy Lawn

Joy Lawn reviews for the Weekend Australian. She has judged the NSW Premier’s and PM Literary Awards and is currently judging humour and crime writing. She blogs about literary fiction, YA and more at Paperbark Words. Joy is fascinated by how authors and illustrators express ideas and images with truth and originality.

Support our first 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.