Postcards from Byron: Tegan Bennett Daylight on youth and music festivals

Tegan Bennett Daylight takes us on a nostalgic trip back to 1994 and the first annual Byron Bay Arts and Music Festival – and what a ride it is!

Photo Credit: David Edgar

January 1994. Bushfires. The first annual Byron Bay Arts and Music Festival. I came north from Sydney in a panel van driven by my old friend Bernie Hayes, accompanied by his wife Julia Richardson and his brother Pat. For some reason we drove through the night. Jools and I tried to sleep but it was like being in a dryer, bumped against the hot metal sides as Bernie took the corners. We pulled into Byron Bay about 10 in the morning, and fell out in a heap on the grass by the beach. We had a beer and staggered half-dressed and half-drunk into the sea. That was a happy day.

When I look at this photo I think about the intense pleasures of being young. I remember what it was like to have no job except writing, no reason not to get in a panel van and head north, to sleep in a tent and drink too much and laugh and dance for days. The other day my husband, reading Yeats, said, ‘We have to remind our kids that they can be brilliant creatures.’ He meant, let them know that they have time: time for books and music, art and beauty.

If I could make a wish for my kids’ generation it would be this: not just ambitions and worries. Instead, a drive through the night, ending in a swim in a wide-open sea. Days of sun and music. And nothing to do but just be.

About Tegan Bennett Daylight

Tegan Bennett Daylight is a writer, teacher and critic. Her books include the Stella Award shortlisted Six Bedrooms and the novels Safety and Bombora. She lives in the Blue Mountains with her husband and two children. Tegan’s recent novel The Details is available to purchase online from The Book Room at Byron, and you can read more about it here.



Conversations from Byron podcast

Tegan Bennett Daylight talks with long-time friend and writing confidant Charlotte Wood about her love of books. They touch on the varied subjects of Tegan’s essays, from her mother’s influence on her reading life, to childhood and its aftermath (as in her celebrated essay Vagina), the authors who have shaped her, and the power of language to spark joy. Listen here.

With thanks

These projects are supported by our friends at the Copyright Agency’s Cultural Fund, who are generously funding participation fees for Australian authors, allowing us to re-imagine the 2020 Festival program. Please stay tuned for further news. Thanks also to our long-term funding partner, Create NSW.

Byron Writers Festival