Byron Bay Writers Festival

Our first ever visit

Last year I went to my first ever Writers Festival - the Byron Bay Writers Festival.

After years of procrastination living in Sydney and wanting to go to the Sydney Writers festival events on numerous occasions - they always ended up relegated to the "too hard" basket - transport and work logistics were the 2 main reasons I never seemed to making it! So on making the "sea change" and moving to Byron and work at Koonyum Range Retreat one of the first things I swore to do was go to the Byron Bay Writers Festival 2012. I even enticed my mum over from NZ to accompany me.

We ended up just going for one day - the Friday program - but the main problem was who to see and hear as there were of course a few clashes in timetabling so it was hard to choose. As well as enjoying a great hour with local comedianne Mandy Nolan, and the ever funny Fiona MacLaughlan, in regards to our failings as mothers (mum left clutching Mandy's book). We heard from some other great writers whom I had never experienced or heard before including some journalists discussing topics such as

And after a full day of mental stimulation we returned to the tranquility of Koonyum Range Retreat and enjoyed a home cooked meal in the comfort of our villa (thanks Piari) before retiring to the spa to listen to the silence and watch the night stars swirl overhead.

So on to Byron Bay Writers Festival 2013 and again a smorgesboard of writers to choose from. The focus of this years festival is Australian writers - but what to do? Again I have the clashing timetable dilemma - do I choose the intellectual and amazing writer Anne Summers who I've admired since "Damned Whores & God's Police" read with relish when I was a university student all those years ago, as she discusses "The Misogyny Factor" - all the more relevant with what has been going on within Australian politics at the moment and the toppling of Julia Gillard. OR The amazing and wonderful Paul Kelly & Archie Roach with "Two up - the collaborative process"? I've read Paul Kelly's book - have his albums - saw him live recently in collaboration with Neil Finn which has to be one of the more memorable concerts I've enjoyed - plus I've always admired Archie Roach - what does one do? Do I choose a serious topic over a lighter perhaps more entertaining talk (what if Paul gets his guitar out????!!! There's a rumour on the Writers Festival website that he may!) Well regardless I'm going to squeeze in ½ hour of "Writing for Social Change" before I see either of these! Last year I packed my lunch as I didn't have time to line up for food in case I missed something!

Thankfully there's not too much competition for Peter Carey -  he's discussing his newest book "The Chemistry of Tears" with an audio visual display which sounds interesting. I've read a number of his books - History of the Kelly Gang being one of my favorites, but I would have also liked to have heard from John Saunders with his memoir on fighting the Catholic Church after suffering sexual abuse.

And all of this is just in regard to Friday's program! Saturday and Sunday offer some more great Australian comedy speakers in the form of Judith Lucy & Denise Scott, the wonderful MJ Hyland and the ABC's "Miss Fishers Murder Mysteries" (which I thoroughly enjoyed) author Kerry Greenwood.

But I've made my choice - the one day is going to be Friday - who I end up seeing perhaps I'll just have to follow my intuition and go with the flow on the day.

At the time of writing we still have some availability at Koonyum Range Retreat  and Bali in Byron for the festival - so if you haven't got your accommodation organized already please get in contact with us.



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