Writers festival heads ‘home’

Chairperson of the Northern Rivers Writers Centre Chris Hanley, Helen Hughes from Southern Cross University and Irene O’Brien from Macquarie Bank at the launch.
Chairperson of the Northern Rivers Writers Centre Chris Hanley, Helen Hughes from Southern Cross University and Irene O’Brien from Macquarie Bank at the launch.

The Byron Bay Writers Festival is going back ‘home’ this year to the former Byron Bay Beach Resort site.

In a carefully guarded secret, festival director Jeni Caffin made the surprise announcement at last Thursday night’s festival sponsors’ launch.

Last year the popular literary festival was forced to move to Belongil Fields after the resort site was sold.

But, the new owners of the prime beaachfront property, have made the site available to the festival which will be held from August 6 to 8.

“Last year we left the beautiful green lawns of the resort and had to settle for a field of woodchips at Belongil Fields,” Ms Caffin said.

“This year we are going back to our traditional site and I am extremely pleased to say that our marquees will once again adorn the lawns of the resort site.”

Although the complete list of writers invited to participate in this year’s festival won’t be announced until June, Ms Caffin said she was very proud of the program.

“Our theme is ‘words without walls’ and we have some really exciting authors and writers from around the world attending,” she said.

“We are a festival that covers all cultures and genres.”

Chairperson of the Northern Rivers Writers Festival Chris Hanley said the festival was a not-for-profit organisation which relied heavily on the support and sponsorship of the community.

“We ask people to give us as much or as little as they can,” he said.

“We are the biggest writer’s festival in the area and the festival is an example of an organisation that has been built on energy and passion, but not much money.

Mr Hanley thanked major sponsors Macquarie Bank and Southern Cross University.

He said Macquarie Bank was the festival’s biggest sponsor and this year the bank had increased its contribution.

 This year’s keynote speaker will be the controversial journalist and writer Fatima Bhutto, whose father Murtaza Bhutto was killed by police in 1996 in Karachi during the premiership of her aunt Benazir Bhutto.

Other big-name authors and writers who will attend the festival include Blanche D’Alpuget, wife of former Australian Prime Minister Bob Hawke; co-author of ‘Puberty Blues’ Kathy Lette; renowned author Alex Miller; Sydney Morning Herald columnist Mike Carlton; ABC news reader Juanita Phillips and Reg Mombassa from Mental As Anything.

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