Sunday June 4

Steep yourself in essential conversation and ripping yarns over four (4) talks in two locations.

DAY PASS $89 + booking fee
Book a WEEKEND PASS for nearly $20 discount

You can select which Morning Session you wish to attend, as well as which Afternoon Session. You are free to change venues at the lunch break. It’s a gorgeous 7-minute stroll, either along a quiet backlane or along the beach itself!

Book signings will follow each talk.

These Sessions are accessible via the Sunday Day Pass or Weekend Pass only.


9:45 – 10am Introduction & Welcome to Country

10 – 11am

Jock Serong, Inga Simpson. Moderator: Malcolm Knox

Weaving the sweat and toil of sport into literature has exercised each of these writers, in different ways. In Willowman, Inga Simpson carves out the poetry from cricket. And Jock Serong puts words to this nation’s great obsession: surfing the waves. Join us trackside for a lively conversation taking place on the dramatic field of sports in fiction.

11.30am – 12.30pm

Ryan Butta, Shankari Chandran, Om Dhungel. Moderator: Ashley Kalagian Blunt

How many ways are there to be Australian? In this session we lift the curtain on foundational myths of ‘mateship’ and a ‘fair go’, and centre incredible migrant stories of hardship, resilience, grit and creativity. We track frontier cameleers with Ryan Butta (The Ballad of Abdul Wade) as well refugee advocate Om Dhungel’s journey From Bhutan to Blacktown. And in Shankari Chandran’s epic Song of the Sun God and earlier Chai Time in Cinnamon Gardens we straddle the fascinating dual worlds of Sri Lanka and Sydney.

9:45 – 10am Introduction & Welcome to Country

10 – 11am

Julie Janson, Holly Throsby. Moderator: Suzanne Leal.

What is it about small towns as literary settings that endlessly enthralls? It’s a creative inkwell novelist and musician Holly Throsby has liberally dipped into in her charming, cosy crime reads Clarke, Goodwood and Cedar Valley. And in Madukka: The River Serpent Darug Burruberongal writer Julie Janson has created an Australian first: an Indigenous private eye, Aunty June, who not only has a missing persons case to solve, but must contend with small-town corruption and racism to boot. Either way, you’ll fall in love with the small towns full of big secrets these writers have dreamed up.

11.30am – 12.30pm

Jennifer Down, Fiona Kelly McGregor. Moderator: Madeleine Gray.

Iris is trying to survive in the slums of the Great Depression, by any means she can: busking, stealing, sex work. Amongst it all, she seeks love like heat. And despite the immense hardships of Maggie’s life, she too survives. And finds love, and kindness. Both of these characters you will not forget in a hurry, brought to life by two of our nation’s great writers: Fiona Kelly McGregor (Stella Longlist) and Jennifer Down (Miles Franklin winner). Join us for a gripping literary discussion united by a single, pulsing thread: survival.


1:30 – 2:30pm

Todd Alexander, Melissa Levi. Moderator: Jane Hutcheon.

What does it mean to age? Can we inject care into aged care, and recognise the humour and pathos to be found in different life stages? How do we process the ageing of others; our parents and loved ones? We hear from Todd Alexander who cheekily claims his elderly parents are driving him Over the Hill and Up the Wall. And clinical psychologist Melissa Levi shares practical tips in We Need to Talk About Ageing.

3 – 4pm

Fiona Kelly McGregor, Louis Nowra, Mandy Sayer. Moderator: Meg Vertigan.

“God made the harbour … but Satan made Sydney.” Mark Twain’s contentious words open playwright Louis Nowra’s biography of that glittering city we love and loathe. Sydney is the backdrop and beating heart of all the books featured here. In Iris by Fiona Kelly McGregor its one of schemers, gamblers, goodtime girls, gangsters and sly-groggers. In Mandy Sayer’s Those Dashing McDonagh Sisters we find a Jazz Age Sydney, bewitched by the glamour of the silver screen. And of course in Sydney: A Biography by Louis Nowra we meet Nowra’s version; and much like Nowra, it’s full of unbelievable yarns.

Supported by the University of Newcastle 

1:30 – 2:30pm

Bertie Blackman, Jonathan Seidler. Moderator: Sam Twyford-Moore

Sit in as we immerse ourselves in the worlds of Bohemian Negligence along with author, musician Bertie Blackman, and It’s a Shame About Ray, with music journalist Jonathan Seidler. These two tender, utterly original memoirs riff on memory, grief, the father figure and the redemptive power of music. And in both, the legacy of a well-known family name looms large. Prepare to have your heart stirred.

3 – 4pm

Eleanor Limprecht, Pip Williams. Moderator: Kate Evans

Roam through the vivid historical worlds of Pip Williams’ The Bookbinder of Jericho and Eleanor Limprecht’s The Coast as we explore the lacerating effects of being forced to the outside, looking in. In the university town conjured in the companion novel to The Dictionary of Lost Words, you are either ‘gown’ or ‘town’ and like oil and water, the two don’t mix …especially if you are an ambitious woman. And in The Coast, the much-stigmatised disease of leprosy creates an archetypal outcast colony on the shores of Little Bay, Sydney… one that is based on horrific lived history. In both, incredible stories of human tenacity, grit and love emerge.

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