Sunday June 13

Ocean Beach Surf Lifesaving Club
176 The Esplanade, Umina Beach

DAY PASS $75 + booking fee
15% discount for WEEKEND PASS

Sunday 13 June 9:15 – 15:30

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.


9:15am – 9:30am


Introduction & ‘Welcome to Country’

9:30am – 10:30am


Past Histories, Present Fictions

Téa Cooper, Nikki Gemmell, Julie Janson. Moderator: Jane Singleton.

No longer will the forgotten women of history stay silent in the margins. Now more than ever, we ache for their voices, stories and perspectives; and through the lens of fiction, they are finally being heard. Roving from the Darug nation at first contact (Benevolence) to the Hunter Valley (The Cartographer’s Secret) and a shipwreck on the Sydney coast (The Ripping Tree), these mesmerising novels let us encounter unforgettable heroines and untold stories that while fictional, feel truer than fact.

10:30am – 11:00am


Book Signings with Authors

With thanks to Festival Bookshop, The Bookshop Umina.

11:00am – 12:00pm


Growing Up…(in the Age of Terror)

Rawah Arja, Michael Mohammed Ahmad. Moderator: Sarah Ayoub

Since 9/11, a generation has only known a time with terrorism being frontpage news. And for those coming from Muslim backgrounds, this experience and the scrutiny it entails is further heightened. Our authors all work with teens who grew up post-9/11, and who often lack positive representation; and all authors harness literature to tell shift this for the better. On this panel we will explore this phenomenon and listen-in on stories that shine a light on a diverse and dynamic community.

Please note: Due to personal reasons, Randa Abdel-Fattah unfortunately can no longer join Words on the Waves Festival. 

12:00pm – 1:00pm


Lunch Break & Book Signings

1:00pm – 2:00pm


Mindfulness Matters

Amal Awad, Shannon Harvey, Rick Morton. Moderator: Brigid Delaney.

Whether you are a sceptic or a believer, you cannot deny that mindfulness is having its moment. But what is it, and how do we get it? Is it a consumer hoax or at the very heart of being human? These three authors bravely stepped aboard the magic carpet in search of truth, love… and themselves.

2:00pm – 2:30pm


Book Signings with Authors

With thanks to Festival Bookshop, The Bookshop Umina.

2:30pm – 3:30pm


Better The Devil You Know

Anna Downes, Candice Fox, Sulari Gentill. Moderator: Suzanne Leal.

Australian crime thrillers are flying off the shelves, daubed with exciting descriptors such as ‘red dirt crime’, ‘locked room thrillers’, ‘urban noir’ and more. But what defines our homegrown crime novels, and why are they enjoying such a boom? Our panel not only come from very different childhoods – from Sheffield, England to Sri Lanka and Zambia through to Western Sydney – but have penned very different books, each a riff on the pageturners we love. An intimate chat about all things crime fiction.

3:30pm – 4:00pm


Book Signings with Authors

With thanks to Festival Bookshop, The Bookshop Umina.


Téa Cooper

Tea is an international award winning Australian author of historical fiction. In a past life she was a teacher, a journalist and a farmer. These days she haunts museums and indulges her passion for storytelling. She is the bestselling author of several novels, including The Naturalist’s Daughter, The Woman in the Green Dress, The Girl in the Painting and The Cartographer’s Secret.

Nikki Gemmell

Nikki Gemmell is the international bestselling author of thirteen novels, including The Bride Stripped Bare, and four works of non-fiction, most recently her memoir of her mother’s death, After and in 2021, The Ripping Tree. Her books have been translated in 22 languages.

Julie Janson

Julie Janson’s career as a playwright began when she wrote and directed plays in remote Australian Northern Territory Aboriginal communities. She is now a novelist and award-winning poet. Julie is a Burruberongal woman of Darug Aboriginal Nation. She is co-recipient of the Oodgeroo Noonuccal Poetry Prize, 2016 and winner of the Judith Wright Poetry Prize, 2019. Julie has ten produced plays, including two at Belvoir St Theatre. Benevolence will be published internationally by Harper Collins in USA and UK in 2021.

Jane Singleton

Jane Singleton has enjoyed a long and distinguished career in broadcasting which has spanned public broadcasting and the commercial media in Australia (2GB, ABC and SBS). She has been a Walkley award judge and federal vice president of the Australian Journalists Association. She is currently the CEO of the Australian Reproductive Health Alliance Canberra and a director of her own public affairs consultancy. She has recently published What Katie Did about the story of Katie Langloh Parker.

Michael Mohammed Ahmad

Michael Mohammed Ahmad is the founding director of Sweatshop Literacy Movement and editor of the critically acclaimed anthology After Australia (Affirm Press, 2021). Mohammed’s debut novel, The Tribe (Giramondo, 2014), won the 2015 Sydney Morning Herald Best Young Novelists of the Year Award. His second novel, The Lebs (Hachette Australia, 2018) won the 2019 NSW Premier’s Multicultural Literary Award and was shortlisted for the 2019 Miles Franklin Literary Award. Mohammed received his Doctorate of Creative Arts from Western Sydney University in 2017.

Randa Abdel-Fattah

Randa Abdel-Fattahis an internationally award-winning author and a human rights and anti-racism advocate. She worked as a litigation lawyer for almost 10 years and has published a number of books, her latest being Coming of Age in the War on Terror.

Rawah Arja

Rawah Arja is a writer and teacher from Western Sydney. Her writing has featured in Arab, Australian, Other, SBS Voices and at the Sydney Writer’s Festival. She has received a fellowship from WestWords Varuna Emerging Writers’ Residential Program, is a member of the Finishing School collective of women writers, and teaches creative writing at schools and workshops.

Sarah Ayoub

Sarah Ayoub is a freelance journalist based in Sydney, Australia. Her work has appeared in various print and online publications, including Marie-Claire, Madison, Cosmopolitan, House & Garden, Sunday Style, The Guardian, Cleo, Shop Til You Drop, Frankie, Yen, Girlfriend and more. She has taught Journalism at the University of Notre Dame and spoken at numerous industry events with the Emerging Writers’ Festival, NSW Writers’ Centre, the Walkley Foundation, Vibewire and more. She is the author of Hate Is Such a Strong Word and The Yearbook Committee and regularly runs writing workshops at Sydney high schools.

Amal Awad

Amal Awad is a journalist, author and screenwriter. She has contributed to ELLEFrankieMeanjinGoing Down Swinging, The Guardian and more. Amal has also produced and presented for ABC Radio National. She is the author of seven books, including three novels, one of which was published this year.

Shannon Harvey

Shannon Harvey is a multi-award-winning journalist, author and filmmaker. She previously worked as a TV, radio and online reporter for organisations such as the ABC and Fairfax. She’s written two books, directed two feature documentaries, and is the recipient of the National Press Club of Australia’s ‘Health Journalist of The Year’ award.

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.

Brigid Delaney

Brigid Delaney is a senior writer for Guardian Australia. She has previously worked as a lawyer and journalist at the Sydney Morning Herald, the Telegraph (London), ninemsn and CNN. She is the author of Wellmania, This Restless Life and Wild Things.

Anna Downes

Anna Downes is a British-Australian author and actor. In 2009 she left the UK to go travelling, a trip that included a stint working as a live-in housekeeper on a remote French estate, where the seeds for The Safe Place were sown. Anna now lives on the Central Coast with her husband and two children.

Candice Fox

Hades, Candice Fox’s first novel, won the Ned Kelly Award for best debut in 2014 from the Australian Crime Writers Association. The sequel, Eden, won the Ned Kelly Award for best crime novel in 2015, making Candice only the second author to win these accolades back to back. Her subsequent novels – FallCrimson LakeRedemption Point and Gone by Midnight – were all shortlisted for the Ned Kelly Award. In 2015 Candice began collaborating with James Patterson. Their first novel together, Never Never, set in the vast Australian outback, was a huge bestseller in Australia and went straight to number one on the New York Times bestseller list in the US, and also to the top of the charts in the UK. Their later novels – Fifty FiftyLiar LiarHush Hush and The Inn – have all been massive bestsellers across the world. Bankstown born and bred, Candice lives in Sydney.

Sulari Gentill

Sulari Gentill is the author of the award-winning and bestselling Rowland Sinclair Mysteries, the Greek mythology adventure series The Hero Trilogy, and winner of the Best Crime award at the 2018 Ned Kelly Awards, Crossing the Lines.

Suzanne Leal

Suzanne Leal is the award-winning author of novels The Deceptions and The Teacher’s Secret. A board member of BAD Sydney Crime Writers Festival and chair of the fiction and poetry panel for the Prime Minister’s Literary Awards, she hosts Thursday Book Club, a relaxed book club connecting readers online.

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.