BIG NAMES. SMALL SCALE.
Deep in the Hawkesbury Heartland, on the banks of the Macdonald River, the village of St Albans will spring to life with the third annual St Albans Writers’ Festival.
The intimate literary celebration will see a bounty of the best and brightest of Australian writers gathered in the tiny historic town (population 158) for a weekend rich with talks and ideas surrounding the theme of ‘Escape and Explore’.
The Festival precinct includes the historic St Albans Church, the Settlers Arms Inn, the School of the Arts Hall, and marquees corralled around a huge fire and hay bales in the St Albans Reserve festival hub.
Explore Tom Keneally’s writing life, discover Hugh Mackay the novelist, and hear Stan Grant speak about his vision of an inclusive Australia. Delve into the relationships between famous artists with Sebastian Smee, and between mothers and daughters with Jane Caro, Caroline Baum, Susan Wyndham and Nikki Gemmell. Encounter journalists Michael Brissenden and Tony Jones as novelists.
Meet blood mystic George Gittoes. Revisit Australian history with Tom Griffiths, David Hunt, Mark Tedeschi QC and Gil Jones. Re-discover Helen Garner through the eyes of Bernadette Brennan. Discuss immigration policy with Madeline Gleeson, and climate change with Jane Abbott. Listen to the award-winning Fiona McFarlane, Roanna Gonsalves and Isabelle Li read short stories around the campfire. Meet established writers Kathryn Heyman and Melina Marchetta, and new writers Melanie Joosten and Rachel Leary. Director George Miller will introduce his 2016 Academy award-winning Mad Max: Fury Road. Cooking powerhouse Simmone Logue will cater the entire festival weekend, including a three- course Dinner with the Writers.
“You will bump into authors wandering around the precinct, having a drink at the pub and sitting around the fire. You can also chat with them during informal round table ‘Meet the Author’ sessions over a coffee or something stronger,” said Festival Artistic Director Catherine du Peloux Menage.
The Festival committee Myra Fox, Jonathan Nolan, Colleen Navin and Catherine du Peloux Menage have been part of the St Albans community for many years.
“This is our third year and we’re so happy to see that both writers and festival visitors seem to love coming to St Albans. The festival is really flourishing and we hope this year is even better than the last.”
St Albans Writers’ Festival is supported by Virgin Australia, The Saturday Paper, The Settlers Arms Inn, New South Books, Hawkesbury Council and St Albans’ local businesses and residents who have provided accommodation for writers and volunteered their time.
- Tony Jones will deliver the Friday night Opening Address about his take on the festival’s theme ‘Escape and Explore’.
- Col Lyons, Wiradguri man and digeridoo player, will present the Welcome to country opening smoking ceremony at the Macdonald riverbed on Saturday morning, welcoming visitors to the Darkinjung territory. Free for all to attend.
- Simmone Logue’s Dinner with the Writers is a chance to break bread and rub shoulders with the writers and fellow guests.
- The Settlers Arms Inn will serve an authentic 1836 Dinner, curated by resident gastronomer at Sydney Living Museums Jacqui Newling.
- Mad Max: Fury Road director George Miller AO will introduce his blockbuster at the St Albans School of Arts on Saturday’s Film Night, where you can enjoy a glass of wine and one of Simmone’s delectable picnic hampers.