With gratitude to all of our partners and supporters. Byron Writers Festival would not be possible without your passion and generosity.
WITH THANKS TO
J. Vivianne Band
Wim De Vylder
Lynda and Christopher Dean
Chris Hanley & Dawn Standfield
John and Melissa Hertzberg
Bob & Patti Lowry
Adam van Kempen
Plus all the publishers who assisted in creating the Byron Writers Festival 2020 Digital program
We are continually aiming to improve access to Byron Writers Festival and enhance the experience of patrons of all abilities. Please contact us on [email protected] if you require any further information or advice in regards to the below.
Selected sessions from the main program are interpreted each day of the Festival. Floating Auslan interpreters will also be available at the Festival site on an as-needs basis. If you require an Auslan interpreter, look out for the Auslan symbol in the printed program, or go to the Information Tent at the Festival site to book an on-demand interpreter for a session of your choosing.
Thanks to Multicultural NSW for funding this initiative.
Explore the full program and see which sessions have been preselected for Auslan interpretation on:
The Festival site is located at Elements of Byron Resort, approximately 5km from Byron town centre. The terrain is flat and grassy, but can become more difficult to navigate in a wheelchair after periods of rain. We advise to use a wheelchair with large wheels if possible.
Festival marquees and stages have wheelchair accessible allocated seating. Please make yourself known to the marquee supervisor and you will be ushered to an accessible seat.
Festival Satellite Events take place in various venues across the Northern Rivers. If you require a wheelchair accessible seat at any of our Satellite Events, please call the office on (02) 6685 5115 or email Emily Brugman at [email protected] to make the necessary arrangements.
An accessible parking and drop-off/pick-up zone is located close to the Festival entrance. Our parking volunteers will direct you accordingly. Please have your sticker on display.
Accessible parking at Satellite Events is dependent on council parking regulations in and around the selected venue. Please call the venue directly to discuss your options.
Byron Writers Festival is a participant of the National Companion Card scheme, offering disabled patrons holding a current companion card a second ticket for their accompanying companion at no charge.
When you arrive, please make your way to the Festival Box Office and present your National Companion Card, along with your Festival ticket, to our friendly staff. You will be allocated a corresponding complimentary pass for your companion. There is a limit of one companion pass per person per day. For further information please visit www.companioncard.gov.au/
Information on ticket releases, announcements and pricing
12 June: Full Program announced and all tickets on sale| Full program announcement
All tickets available, including 3-Day passes, 1-Day passes, Sunday Locals’ passes, Kids Big Day Out and separately ticketed Workshops and Satellite Events*.
3-Day Pass: $255 Members / $299 General
1-Day Pass: $110 Members / $135 General
Sunday Locals’ Pass*: $80, limited release, conditions apply. Supported by Stone & Wood
Sunday Kids Big Day Out Pass**, $40 (1 adult + 1 child. $20 for each additional child)
Sunday Family Pass**: $120 (2 adults + 1 child. $20 for each additional child)
Satellite Event ticket prices range from free to $35
Workshop ticket prices range from $35 to $120, with member discounts available.
29 July 29 – 4 August Workshops and Satellite Events running throughout the week
2 – 4 August Festival Weekend!
Notes and conditions
All tickets are available to purchase online, over the phone via (02) 6685 5115 or in person at our offices in Byron Bay.
*Sunday Local’s Passes are available to residents of the Byron, Ballina, Kyogle, Lismore, Richmond Valley and Tweed council areas. These tickets are limited in number and available for purchase from the festival office or online (maximum two tickets per person); purchasers will need to present proof of address at the Festival gate. Supported by Stone & Wood.
** Children must be supervised by at least ONE adult at all times.
Not a member of Byron Writers Festival, or yet to renew your 2019 membership? Join today and save up to $74 on full price 3-Day passes. Other Festival member benefits include a special preview of the Full Program online and priority booking periods for Festival Satellite Events. Read the full list of annual Member benefits and click here to sign up now!
Did you know that Byron Writers Festival received relatively little public funding – under 20% of our total revenue – with a majority coming from people like you. To ensure we can continue to support and celebrate writers, readers and storytellers please make a donation today. As a not-for-profit organisation run with a small team of staff and volunteers, contributions of any size go a long way in enriching the creative culture of our community. Amounts over $2 are tax deductible. To find out more, click here.
Byron Writers Festival is a non-profit organisation, and most of our revenue is self-generated – with a majority coming from Festival ticket sales. So each year we think carefully about how to make the Festival accessible to our audience, while also covering our costs.
We know that not everybody can afford (or wants) a 3-day pass. That’s why we have created a number of different ticket types – including our Sunday Locals’ and Sunday Family passes – so people from all walks of life can enjoy the stories, discussion and debate that make up the Festival program.
What type of ticket should I buy?
Byron Writers Festival is set up a bit like a music festival, with six stages that you can move between as you please, featuring panel discussions and conversations. If you buy a 3-Day pass or a 1-Day pass you will get access to all sessions happening in the main Festival program for your chosen days (for 3-Day pass holders that’s around 115+ sessions to choose from!).
Satellite Events are individually ticketed events during Festival week in venues across the region (a few of them are free). Access to Satellite Events is not included in 3-Day and 1-Day passes.
Ticket types and prices are explained here:
Extra Early Bird Tickets (1 – 7 April 2020)
Purchase your 3-day Pass at the lowest possible price. Extra Early Bird tickets give access to Festival sessions in the main program, excluding workshops and separately ticketed events. Please note no guests will be announced when Extra Early Bird tickets go on sale.
3-Day Extra Early Bird Pass: $225 Members / $265 General
Early Bird Tickets (20 – 26 May, 2020)
Our second release of discounted 3-day Passes, with first guests announced. Early Bird tickets give access to Festival sessions in the main program, excluding workshops and separately ticketed events.
3-Day Early Bird Pass: $235 Members / $275 General
General Release Tickets (from 24 June, 2020)
If you would rather wait until the full program is announced before you commit, you can choose from our full suite of general release tickets. These tickets give access to Festival sessions in the main program, excluding workshops and separately ticketed events.
3-Day Pass: $255 Members / $299 General 1-Day Pass: $110 Members / $135 General
Looking after our locals in 2019! Discounted tickets for Sunday – save $55 per ticket – available to residents of the Byron, Ballina, Kyogle, Lismore, Richmond Valley and Tweed council areas. Tickets are available for purchase online, over the phone or from the festival office. Purchasers will need to present proof of address (maximum two tickets per person) upon ticket collection at the Festival Box Office. Limited release, available until sold out. Supported by Stone & Wood
Sunday Pass: $80 General
Workshop and Satellite Event tickets
A program of separately ticketed workshops and Satellite events – some of them free – runs in the lead-up to the main Festival weekend and on weekend evenings. Ticket prices vary and details will be released when the full program is announced in June.
Connecting students with Australia’s best loved authors.
About the day
Byron Writers Festival invites your school to participate in our annual Primary School Days Program. Inspiring, fun-filled and creative sessions with some of Australia’s best loved authors.
When & Where: Select the session your school would like to attend:
Tuesday 30 July – Lismore City Hall (Norpa) or Murwillumbah Civic Centre
Wednesday 31 July – Byron Bay (High School Auditorium) morning or afternoon session
Thursday 1 August – Grafton (Saraton Theatre)
Cost: $10 per student / session
Sessions are 2 hours long and run in the morning and afternoon. Refer to the program below or download a Program PDF.
How to make a booking for your school
Click ‘Book Now’ to reserve the number of tickets required for your school. We urge you to determine your school’s numbers as soon as possible, as PLACES ALWAYS FILL UP FAST.
You may pay the booking fee immediately, or you may opt to receive an invoice.
After booking, we will send you a booking confirmation including your invoice if applicable, book order forms and a checklist to help you prepare for the day. (Payment can be made via credit card at the time of booking, or by credit card, EFT or cheque, to secure your students’ places).
Writers on the Road, the free Byron Writers Festival touring program, is exploring the new normal this year with a crew of literary mavericks. Acclaimed authors and artists on-board include Bigambul illustrator Dub Leffler, writer and recovering teacher Gabbie Stroud, author and filmmaker Benjamin Gilmour and Yuwaalaraay author and musician Nardi Simpson.
The series of free events will take place in the evenings from Monday 30 November to Friday 4 December in Ballina, Kingscliff, Harwood and Bellingen, as well as school events in Bonalbo.
All events are free and open to the public. Due to Covid-19 restrictions, bookings are essential.
Capacity restrictions apply. Bookings essential. To book, contact the gallery via their website. Due to Covid restrictions this is an outdoor event held in the café area of the gallery. In the event of rain, the session will be held at Ballina Surf Club, Lighthouse Parade, East Ballina.
Kingscliff, Wednesday 2 December
Venue: Kingscliff Community Centre Hall Address: 81 Marine Parade, Kingscliff Time: 5.30pm
Capacity restrictions apply. Bookings essential. BOOK NOW
Capacity restrictions apply. Bookings essential. To book, email the library on [email protected]
Meet the authors and illustrators
Descended from the Bigambul people of South-West Queensland, Dub Leffler is one of Australia’s most sought after illustrators of children’s literature. He has written two books for children and is currently illustrating his 23rd title. Dub’s work has afforded him travel to places as diverse as remote Australia, Europe, Indonesia and America and his illustrations are now in permanent collection in The National Library of Congress in Washington, DC.
In 2019, Dub won The Eve Pownall Award for Book of the Year from the Children’s Book Council of Australia, for Sorry Day. 2020 will see the release of two books Dub has illustrated – Rocky & Louie, written by Raewyn Caisley and Phil Walley-Stack, and Strangers On Country, written by Kirsty Murray and Dave Hartley. Dub is currently illustrating Our Dreaming written by Kirli Saunders.
Gabbie Stroud is a writer and recovering teacher. After years of juggling the demands of the primary classroom, she became disenchanted and disillusioned, eventually making the painful decision to leave the profession she had loved. In 2016, her critical commentary of Australia’s education system was published in Griffith Review’s Edition 51 Fixing the System, which went on to be shortlisted for a Walkley Award. Gabbie’s first novel, a Young Adult fiction—Measuring Up—was published by Scribe in 2009.
Gabbie’s smash-hit memoir Teacher was shortlisted for Biography Book of the Year at the 2018 ABIA Awards and has contributed to the national dialogue on education. Her latest book, Dear Parents, is a passionate call to arms for all parents. Gabbie lives on the far south coast of New South Wales, where she co-parents her totally awesome girls—Olivia and Sophie.
Nardi Simpson is a Yuwaalaraay writer, musician, composer and educator from North West NSW freshwater plains. A founding member of Indigenous folk duo Stiff Gins, Nardi has been performing nationally and internationally for 20 years. Her debut novel, Song of the Crocodile was a 2018 winner of a black&write! writing fellowship.
Benjamin Gilmour has worked as a qualified paramedic for more than 20 years. He is also an author and the writer / director of three feature films. His film Jirga was Australia’s entry for Best Foreign Language Film Oscar this year and won the Best Independent Film at the AACTA Awards and a NSW Premier’s Award for Best Screenplay. The Gap is Benjamin’s fifth book. He is based in Bangalow where he lives with his wife Kaspia and three children.
Ordinarily at this time, we would all be gathering on Bundjalung Country in beautiful Byron Bay for three days of storytelling, conversation and ideas. But of course these are not ordinary times and this year’s Festival has regrettably been postponed until 6 – 8 August 2021.
For what would have been Festival week, we are delighted to share with you a very special podcast: the 2020 Thea Astley Address, delivered by one of Australia’s most eminent Indigenous academics and advocates, Professor Marcia Langton.
Also released for Festival week are several new Conversations from Byron podcasts, along with the release of our popular Schools Program (which is available to the general public for Saturday 8 and Sunday 9 August only).
We hope you enjoy listening to these wonderful conversations with some of Australia’s foremost writers and thinkers, and we look forward to seeing you all next year on the Festival grounds in Byron Bay.
Edwina Johnson and the Festival Team
Support the 2021 Festival
As a not-for-profit organisation, our ticketing income is essential to the success of future Festivals. If you were planning to come to Byron Writers Festival this year, we invite you to consider making a donation instead.
Your gift will help us create a stand-out Festival in 2021, as well as supporting Australian writers, and the arts in regional Australia.
Thank you to our 2020 funding partners for making this program possible.
Relive the memories with our 2019 Photo Gallery
The sun shone under a bluebird sky after a rainbow-dappled Friday to the delight of weekend Festival-goers. An unforgettable weekend for our guests and patrons alike.
And we’re off!
Babara Toner finds her funny bone with Toni Jordan and Mandy Nolan
Lessons in scarf-wearing: Head, neck and shoulders.
Nevo Zisin on growing up queer in Australia
#MeToo: Where To? with Amal Awad, Ginger Gorman, David Leser and Tracey Spicer
Tara June Winch lays down the law when it comes to creativity and motherhood
The PM Years with Kevin Rudd
John Marsden on The Art of Growing Up
No pots of gold unfortunately, but plenty of golden nuggets at the end of these rainbows!
Vicki Laveau-Harvie on Memoir: Running in the Family
Dr Julia Shaw delves into our darker thoughts on Exploring Evil with Gianrico Carofiglio
Markus Zusak on crossing his Bridge of Clay
Storm Clouds stayed at bay for most of the day
Natasha Stott Despoja, Scott Ludlam and Dennis Atkins tackle the question: What’s Happened to our Politics
Lisa-ann Gershwin on the joys of jellyfish
Crusaders Against Corruption
Roman Quaedvlieg on Crusaders Against Corruption
Kate McClymont on Crusaders Against Corruption
Ash Grunwald shares some acoustic tunes in his session
Bruce Pascoe, Bronwyn Bancroft and Karla Dickens share a joke with chair Adam Shoemaker in The Stories Embedded in Landscape
Bruce Pascoe enjoys a good ribbing
Streaming in on Saturday under our Festival flags
Delta Kay takes flight for Welcome to Country
Mob reunions with Melissa Lucashenko, Uncle Jack Charles and Delta Kay
Getting their kicks
Well… THAT was funny
Sarah Hanson Young shares a laugh on ‘The Mental Load: A Woman’s Lot
Gabbie Stroud’s heartfelt experiences resonate with many
Sharing the load in The Mental Load
Natasha Stott Despoja on Domestic Violence: A National Emergency
Full house for Resilience, Strength and Adversity with Leigh Sales, Chloe Hooper and Tim Costello
Soaking it up
Uncle Jack Charles had us laughing and crying in his memorable conversation
The Sculpture Appreciation Society strike a pose
Dr Julia Shaw strikes a pose
Bruce Pascoe’s conversation with Kerry O’Brien drew capacity crowds under a sunny winter’s sky
A standing ovation for Bruce Pascoe’s Dark Emu conversation with Kerry O’Brien
Adam Spence and Eddie Woo get their geek on in Amazing Mathematics
An overflowing room sits riveted to Behrouz Boochani, live streamed from Manus Island
Min Jin Lee, Benjamin Law, Jennifer Clement and Markus Zusak on the Family as Saga
Jennifer Clement reflects on Family Saga
Question time with Alison Lester at Kids Big Day Out
Hands up for Morris Gleitzman at Kids Big Day Out
Our 2019 Story Sleuths with Tristan Bancks
The StoryBoard Story Space in action at Kids Big Day Out
Alison Lester’s mural gets some finishing touches
A.C. Grayling inspires the next generation of philosophers
A.C. Grayling delivers the annual Thea Astley Address on Democracy and its Crisis
Sitting back for Democracy and its Crisis
Hung Le relives one of many awkward moments…v
And the audience laps it up!
Taking time out to reflect
Dmon Gameau on his hopes for 2040 with Nathan Scolaro
Ending the weekend on a high note with Shire Choir
Shire Choir’s Malea Naughton
Coming together as community to celebrate and rejoice!
A HUGE thank you to all of our WONDERFUL volunteers!! Your smiles and generosity are what make this Festival truly special!A HUGE thank you to all of our WONDERFUL volunteers!! Your smiles and generosity are what make this Festival truly special!
A literary sideshow of individually ticketed events outside of the main Festival Program. Featuring a curated selection of guests, our Satellite Events will have you laughing, crying, chin-stroking and truly inspired.
WOMEN, MEN AND THE WHOLE DAMN THING BY DAVID LESER
David Leser interrogates his own privilege and role in the patriarchy as he explores misogyny and how history brought us to the #MeToo movement. To be launched by Vanessa Gorman.
When: Friday 2 August, 6.30pm—7.30pm
Venue: The Book Room, Byron Bay
Cost: Free, no bookings
FRI 2 AUG
IN CONVERSATION WITH ANGELA LEDGERWOOD
Tim Costello’s evocative memoir, A Lot with a Little, explores the people and experiences that have shaped him into a socially active fighter for the world’s most challenging issues. This is a book about faith and its power to sustain in the face of the world’s big issues.
When: Friday 2 August, 7pm—8pm
Venue: The Byron at Byron
Hung Le is a Vietnamese refugee who has no math, medical or musical abilities. To compensate, he has carved out an international career in comedy and playing the violin out of tune. He’s currently the world’s first, best and tallest Vietnamese comic and author who has never found his land legs.
Join celebrated Australian foreign correspondent Peter Greste and stellar guests – incarcerated prize-winning writer Behrouz Boochani (live-streamed from Manus Island), his collaborator and translator Omid Tofighian with PEN International Chair and American-Mexican author Jennifer Clement in a pivotal discussion of the challenges to and seminal importance of press freedom.
When: Friday 2 August, 7—8.15pm
Venue: Banksia Pavilion, Elements of Byron Resort
Cost: $25 with a portion of proceeds donated to charity
An edgy, provocative, funny play that challenges our feelings with cleverly crafted, insightful dialogue. It explores efforts to sustain our fragile world, our flawed relationships, and corruption of our institutions. Extinction is a must see!
When: Friday 2 & Saturday 3 August, 7.30pm. Sunday 4 August, 5.30pm
Venue: Drill Hall Mullumbimby
Cost: $30/22 (Friday, Saturday) or $40/32 (Sunday, inc. Q&A with Hannie and refreshments)
From page to the stage, let the words take flight! Come experience a literary & loud line-up of some of Australia’s most vibrant performance and slam poets, who are all featured within the groundbreaking new spoken word anthology Solid Air. Featuring Pascalle Burton, Tug Dumbly, David Hallett, Melanie Mununggurr-Williams, Anisa Nandaula, Omar Sakr, David Stavanger, Anne-Marie Te Whiu, plus special feature sets by Tishani Doshi and champion beatboxer Hope One.
Ailsa Piper returns to Lismore Regional Gallery with a performance inspired by the current exhibition, Object Therapy. Using both found and crafted words, Ailsa will re-flect, re-mind and re-work the way you think about the place of things in your life.
Fire has preoccupied American Professor Stephen Pyne for decades. He has published 35 books, mostly on fire (including Australia) but others on topics like Antarctica and the Grand Canyon. He brings to fire a deep comparative perspective and sense of history. He lives on a small urban farm in Arizona.
Story Club is a live, themed storytelling night featuring true, hilarious stories by some of Australia’s finest raconteurs. This edition, Working for the Man, features Benjamin Law, Scott Ludlam, Kate McClymont, Sisonke Msimang and Story Club co-creators Zoë Norton Lodge and Ben Jenkins.
Dominic Smith, the acclaimed author of The Last Painting of Sara de Vos, takes us back in time to the birth of cinema during a discussion of his research and experience writing his latest book The Electric Hotel.
When: Sunday 4 August, 11am—12pm
Venue: Tweed Regional Gallery & Margaret Olley Art Centre
Cost: Free, bookings essential
EVENT PARTNER Tweed Regional Gallery & Margaret Olley Art Centre
Prizes are generously sponsored by the Warrick Family, Hilarie Dunn and the Byron Writers Festival Jesse Blackadder Memorial Fund.
Susie Warrick was a much-loved staff member at the Northern Rivers Writers’ Centre (now Byron Writers Festival).
The Susie Warrick Young Writers Award was established to honour her memory, celebrate the art of the short story, and to support emerging young writers in furthering their career.
In 2020 we added a new Primary Category open to Stage 3 Primary students in memory of Jesse Blackadder, founder of the Byron Writers Festival’s StoryBoard Program.
And the winners are…
Thank you to all the young writers who entered the 2020 Susie Warrick Young Writers Award. We received 220 submissions across all categories, and the judges faced some tough decisions choosing winners from such an impressive field of entries. Our congratulations go to the winners and runners-up from each category, whose stories will be published on our website in the coming months.
Category 1 (Years 5 & 6)
Winner: Bird Whisperer by Erica Little
Equal 1st Runners up: Reflection by Cordelia Perritt, Protectors of the Outback by Josephine Payne
Highly commended: Breakout by Sienna Russo
Category 2 (Years 7 & 8)
Winner: The Jump by Maya Rogers
1st Runner up: That’s how I found myself by Alessandra Wenban
Equal 2nd Runners up: 700,000 Keys by Misha Fligelman, Flowers are No Comfort by Maeve Heart
Category 3 (Years 10 – 12)
Winner: Tea, Shivering, and Domes of Glass by Blaine Hall
1st Runner up: Madonna by Eden Annesley
2nd Runner up: Headlights at the End of the Tunnel by Niamh Montgomery
Highly commended: A Beginning by Alaeila Farands
Wishing For More Time by Maya Cunat Travel to the Past by Eana Tokunaga 0 BPM by Hailey Pickett A Dingo’s Pack by Isabelle Reed The Sacrifices They Made by Scarlett Southwell The Story of Maria Nowak by Chloe Jackson Xavier And His Broken Heart by Phoebe McDonald Staircase to the Sky by Banjo Keane Beyond the Trees by Sarah Leslie The Toad by Lewis Fairfull Devil In Disguise by Laicey Roese The Magic Trees and the Shadow Monster by Dee Eh Htoo
Trapped by Ava Knapp Where Sky Meets Sea by Eva Salisbury IT by Jean Wilson Wish Upon A Star by Amira Askew The Gathering Tree by Naiyah Sprungman
Drowning in Divinity by Grace Chance Lost in the Stars by Caitlin Richardson Portrait of a Young Woman by Jesse Henderson Fall of an Empress by Taylor Slattery Thicker than Water by Breanna Yabsley
Find out more about Elements of Byron, our on-site accommodation partner, as well as links to other accommodation providers in the area.
Elements of Byron Resort
Elements of Byron Resort is the proud venue partner of Byron Writers Festival. The resort features 193 private villas dotted amidst 22 hectares of absolute beachfront paradise. The modern Australian beach architecture and interiors are inspired by the native flora and fauna of this exceptional Byron Bay beachside location, where every luxury awaits.
Facilities include a new adults exclusive pool, central lagoon pool and beach lounge.
Graze at Elements is the all-day dining option, along with poolside dining options and the Lobby Bar.
Relax and unwind with all the creature comforts you desire. The Byron at Byron is an intimate resort set amongst a 45 acre subtropical rainforest. Each beautifully styled and self contained suite provides the perfect balance between luxury and authenticity.
Dine in style surrounded by the lush rainforest canopy in their renowned restaurant or take some time out for an indulgence of R&R with a special treatment at the resort’s luxurious day spa. Enjoy the infinity pool and many of the resorts activities on offer including daily complimentary yoga.
The Byron at Byron is a proud accommodation partner of Byron Writers Festival.
byronbay.com connects you with an extensive collection of accommodation options – find your perfect property then book online or direct with the property manager.
A local business, byronbay.com has spent the last two decades sharing an authentic sense of Byron with the rest of Australia and the world. Explore the region on our flagship website, blogs, and social channels.
A proud accommodation partner of Byron Writers Festival.
The Atlantic Byron Bay is a lifestyle hotel. The perfect combination of location and style surrounded by swaying palm trees and the sound of the ocean. The Atlantic is the perfect getaway for couples with cafes, shops and white sandy beaches all steps from your deck. Soak up the sun on the lawn, hide under a palm tree and enjoy the balmy evenings by the fire pit. Cast off your bags and start making moments at your home away from home.
The Atlantic Byron Bay is a proud accommodation partner of Byron Writers Festival
Located in the heart of Brunswick Heads, The Sails offers 22 classic motel style rooms just a short stroll from the river, restaurants and cafes. Facilities include a Swimming Pool, BBQ & Gazebo, Bike Hire, Free Wi-Fi, Onsite Parking, Bar & Restaurant and an Event & Workshop Space.