Readers and Writers' Festival to make mark on Sunny Coast

The inaugural Sunshine Coast International Readers and Writers' Festival is proving to be one of the most exciting events to take place in the region. 

With over 100 guests from as far as Europe and Indonesia along with many interstate and local writers, artists and photographers, performers and storytellers converging on Coolum in seven venues from 9-11 September, this mammoth event has something for everyone.

The extensive programme is so exciting and crammed full of inspiring workshops, talks, panel discussions, literary lunches, children's activities covering every aspect of writing, composing, creating, illustrating and publishing.

Festival founder and co-ordinator, Wendy O'Hanlon, has placed a great emphasis on the indigenous cultural heritage with the opening celebrations at 6pm on Friday 9 September, featuring Lyndon Davis and the Gubbi Gubbi dancers along with performances from representatives from diverse backgrounds, including Alister Bartholomew, Torres Strait singer-guitarist, Andrea  Kirwin, Aboriginal comedian Sean Choolburra, Antoine Cassar from Malta who spreads peace through poetry and local icon Barry Charles.

Janet de Neefe, founder of the world famous Ubud Writers' Festival in Bali will be special guest and officially open the Festival then on the Saturday she will discuss her life and work in Bali, where she now oversees the running of the annual Ubud Festival along with writing cookbooks, conducting cooking schools and running two world class restaurants with her Balinese husband. It was this Fetsival which inspired Wendy to create a similar vision here on the Sunshine Coast.

Four Creative Writing students received bursaries as part of the inaugural Festival and will present their responses to this year's Ubud theme of Tat Tvam Asi, (we are all part of a oneness with Nature and the Cosmos). They will then perform their presentation at Janet de Neefe's Luna Bar during the Ubud Festival in October.

 Multi award winning Indigenous artist Jandamarra Cadd created the magnificent artwork depicting the powerful presence of the pat cultures in the modern day Coast, which is the logo for the festival. Workshops also include an insight into aboriginal language and culture while Bridgette Chilly will talk with author Jan Kelly about how Indigenous tribes used their songlines to remember places and stories. Gregg Dreise will also run a whole day programme of music, art, storytelling and other insights connecting the past with present culture.

One very special guest is Uncle Herb Wharton whose poetry and stories about life as an aboriginal experiences the past 70+ years have made him a true Australian legend. Uncle Herb will be featured also in the "Start with a Laugh Breakfast" on Saturday and Sunday at the My Place café in Coolum. Tickets for these are only available to those who have bought Festival tickets.

Phil Jarrett will discuss our surfing history and culture while the Coolum ad North Shore Coast Care along with Coolum Community Native Nursery will host a public dune planting event especially for the youngsters attending their following presentation at the Festival. This is supported by the Coolum Boardriders Club. See the Festival programme for full details.

Queensland playwrights Simon Denver, Sue Sewell and Hugh O'Brien will help you start on that competition winning script, while other panel and workshops include Jan Latta who has travelled the world photographing and writing about endangered animals, Robert Macklin whose book on Hamilton Hume sold over 1000 copies in its first week even before being officially launched and Professor Ian Lowe who looks at whether Australia is the lucky country.

Other panels include a discussion as to whether newpapers and journalism are still relevant considering the political bias in ownership.

Children's author Casey Adron will explain the process of getting writing and published while illustrators Aleesha Darlison, Gregg Dreise, Alison Marlow-Petrson and Peter Carnavas share their secrets.

The two days are full of other fantastic events such as the Literary Picnic with food from several Coolum eateries, Indonesian Dreaming with acclaimed writers Ahmad Fuadi,
 Tah Riq Amawi, a Jordanian-born, Bali-based poet; Locla muso and traveller jay Bischoff with Mark Heyward, Zohab Zee Khan, from New South Wales; and Colin Beard, an internationally acclaimed photographer whose career and anecdotes are worthy of being a film.

Poets' Corner in Jack Morgan park, features Bazza the Bush Balladeer, Joy Machine's Barbara Brewster, comedian Sean Choolburra, poet Antoine Casser from Malta, rap poets Zohab Zee Khan and TahRiq Amawi, Musician Mark Heyward and the living legend Uncle Herb Wharton who has come from Cunnamulla to be part of this inaugural event.

The Artisans' Alley includes Dale Chapman's Coolamon bush tucker, Queensland Koala Crusaders, Aboriginal Arts and Crafts, firestones and tool making displays, basket weaving, acrylic beach culture canvasses, Surfrider info stall, custome made coffee table books, handmade rope baskets and bowls, Coolum and North Shore Coast care, Marine Conservation stall and much more.

The Children's Craft and Storytime Marquee is free to children and will feature Sam Welbourne building Fairy Houses and Trolls cave Workshop, readings by Casey Adron, Bazza with his furry offsiders and bag of entertaining tricks, Bridgette Chilly with basket weaving and Emma Middleton's drawing activities.

This incredible Festival offers one-day and two-day passes to attend the events, which include entry to the Official Opening Celebrations at Coolum Civic Centre and the Festival's Closing Ceremony at Tickle Park which features a concert with The Lyrical and an amazing display by KC Fireworks.

The Official Festival Bookshop, managed by Sandy Pages Bookshop of Coolum will feature works by our guest presenters who will be available to autograph copies along with prints, postcards and souvenir Festival programmes featuring the "Ancient Dreaming, Tomorrow's Vision" by Jandamarra Cadd.

The bookshop opens from 1pm Friday 9 September, 8.30-5pm Saturday and Sunday 10-11 September. Tickets will be available unless sold out, each morning so avoid disappointment and queues by buying now online, as the programme starts at 8.30am each day.

Look at the full programme and book now on

One-day Pass: Adults $85; Students (High School or Uni.) and Pensioners $50;
Two-day Pass: Adults $160; Students and Pensioners $90; (primary students are free)
Literary Breakfasts $20 - available only to Festival ticket holders (includes one breakfast meal and a tea, coffee or juice).

Several Coolum accommodation resorts are offering special rates for festival goers so visit the festival website for details and contact numbers.

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