Festival Authors

Hello from Marion


Hello from your director.

As you may have heard, for various reasons we have moved the next Batemans Bay Writers Festival to 2018.

The main reason being that Canberra decided to have their inaugural festival two weeks prior to our September Festival last year, 2016.

The competition for festivals is fierce!

There will be no BBWFestival in 2017

Please let your friends and fellow book-lovers know, and I hope to see you in 2018.

Regards and good reading.

Marion Roubos-Bennett
Festival Director

Batemans Bay Writers Festival
PO Box 333
Batemans Bay 2536
0417 267 771




Five minutes with Deb Hunt

Five Minutes with Deb Hunt

English born Deb Hunt has been a librarian, teacher, event manager, PR executive, actress and journalist. She has worked with Shakespeare in the Park in London, Australian House & Garden magazine in Sydney and for the past five years as a writer with the Royal Flying Doctor Service. Her memoir,  Love in the Outback, reveals Deb’s experience of discovering an unimagined land and true love far from the green fields of home.  Her latest book, Australian Farming Families explores what it is that binds Australians to the land. Travelling tens of thousands of kilometres, Deb met farming families who are challenged every day by the weather, economic ups and downs and isolation and yet remain passionate and determined.

Deb is joining us at the 2016 Batemans Bay Writers Festival in September. We spent five minutes with Deb to find out a little more about her.


The summary of your 2014 memoir, Love in the Outback, goes along these lines: “The true story of a tree-hugging vegetarian from a small English village who gave up a job she hated, stopped stalking a man who wasn’t interested and moved to Australia to work for the Royal Flying Doctor Service.”  What were some of the culture shock moments in that transition that make you laugh now?

I had so much to learn about the Outback. A single property in Australia can be the size of several English counties so it can take a couple of hours to drive across. I could never admit that I used to stop for a nap mid-way through a two-hour drive in England. That was considered a long way! I remember one time I found a mouse at home in Broken Hill so I captured it, thinking I might keep it as a pet or maybe release it. Then I heard about an epic plague of mice causing havoc in town, so I kept very quiet about the one I’d tried to save. And until I lived in Broken Hill I’d never heard of anyone having all their teeth removed when they got married. Apparently it saves having to visit a dentist.


Before you came to Australia, did you have any idea of what the RFDS was and how important it was to outback life?

My only understanding of the RFDS was through watching that old TV series about the Flying Doctor from the 1970s and I’ve learnt so much since about the incredible work they do. I fully appreciate that tyranny of distance now, which is an ever-present threat in the Outback. I had no idea how vital the service is for survival in rural and remote areas.

Your experiences in rural Australia have also led to a collection of true stories called Australian Farming Families. Is it possible to sum up what you learned from them about life on the land?

I learnt it takes grit and determination to be a farmer in Australia. It’s not a question of if disaster strike, it’s when. Farmers, graziers and pastoralists cope with drought, fire, flood, debt, disease and the invasion of pests on a regular basis. Add to that the lack of schools, hospitals, dentists, libraries, shops, mechanics and all the other services the rest of us take for granted and you begin to understand how hard it is to operate in a remote area. Yet the people I interviewed wouldn’t live anywhere else; they’re passionate about what they do.


Where to next with your writing? Are you sticking with non-fiction or is there a novel lurking in there?

I love non-fiction but I’ve always been an avid reader of fiction so right now I’m exploring an idea for a novel – set in the Outback of course!

We’re so looking forward to welcoming you to the 2016 Batemans Bay Writers Festival. But what are you looking forward to when you visit in September?

You’ve got a great line-up of speakers so I’m looking forward to hearing as many as I can. Tim Fischer was influential during his time as Chairman of the RFDS so I’m really looking forward to hearing what he’s got to say. And I’ve heard the coastline around Bateman’s Bay is spectacular.

Meet Deb at the following events:

Saturday September 10: Time 3 pm to 4 pm

The Royal Flying Doctor Service & Outback Life

Deb Hunt (Love in the Outback and Australian Farming Families) talks with Ian Campbell about the important role the RFDS plays on outback life.

Saturday September 10: Time 5.30 pm for 6pm to 7 pm

Free event

4 X 5 minutes

Four authors, four readings, four sets of literary trivia. Join us for drinks, trivia and book-readings. Authors Deb Hunt, Meredith Jaffé, Paul Hetherington and Rod Jones, give short readings from a work of their choice. In between, tease your brain with four sets of literary trivia. Prizes to be won.

Sunday September 11: Time: 9.30 am to 10.30 am

Memoir: Telling true stories

How does a writer distinguish memory from fact or determine truths long buried with their teller? Author Meredith Jaffé facilitates a lively discussion with Annabel Morley, Deb Hunt and Rod Jones.




Festival Workshops Announced

Marion Roubos-Bennett, Festival Director, Events and Program Coordinator today released details of the great line up of workshops that will be available to those lucky enough to secure seats. Only 20 places are available at each workshop,

Full details of these Workshops are available on our website.

Holders of Platinum Early Bird Tickets will be the first with an opportunity to book these workshops, and for them the Workshops are Free (normally $22).

Chris Andrews is presenting two workshops at the 2016 Festival.
Foundations of story and structure, covering how readers engage with story through character and structure ― without both, a story will fall apart.
Creating Compelling Characters, giving you the essential hands-on toolkit to ensure your readers care about what happens to your characters, even the ones they hate.

Pippa Carron is presenting two workshops

From getting started to getting published, a go-to-whoa workshop will begin with techniques to overcome writers block and describe how to set up essential writing support systems

Self Editing for fiction and non-fiction writing. Your writing will benefit from an in-depth understanding of what it is that editors do.

Rae-LuckieDr Rae Luckie is also presenting a workshop Writing Life Stories – Memories of Place at the Festival. While we focus on character and events in life story writing, place is sometimes neglected. Place is not just a physical location—places are imbued with memories.

Batemans Bay Writers Festival 2016 Launched

FullSizeRender-2Batemans Bay Writers Festival is thrilled to announce an exciting line up for the 2016 Festival. In its third year, the Festival welcomes a number of eminent Australian writers and leaders across a diverse range of interests. Lifestyle, history, health and the arts share centre stage with some of the best writers of fiction, poetry, non-fiction and memoir.

Federal Member for Gilmore, Anne Sudmalis MP officially launched the Festival at an event held Friday evening at the Coachhouse Marina Resort where the festival will take place over the weekend of September 9 to 11. Other guests included well known locals Eurobodalla Shire Mayor CR Lindsay Brown, author and musician Stafford Ray and Fellowship of Australian Writers President and author Rosie Toth. In a speech acknowledging the power of creativity, Ms Sudmalis said, “what youre doing now is youre nurturing people who are going to go the festival and you are going to be inspiring your friends to come to the festival and were going to be encouraging as many other people to come into the Festival in September.”


The Honourable Tim Fischer AC will open the Festival 2016 on 9 September and will be VIP celebrity speaker at the literary lunch on 11 September.

The Festival will be bookended with drinks on Friday 9 September and a literary lunch on Sunday 11, both featuring the Honourable Tim Fischer ACformer Deputy Prime Minister, and Australian Ambassador to the Vatican Holy See and travel writer. Other highlights include award winning writer and GP, Dr Leah Kaminsky who will talk about her latest book, Were All Going to Die, a book that challenges our fears about death and dying. Journalist and author Malcolm Knox will be talking about his latest fiction work The Wonder Lover as well as joining renowned environmental activist and business leader Geoff Cousins AM in a post election conversation about our changing attitudes to the environment. Darleen Bungey will feature in conversation about her two award winning biographies on the artists John Olson and Arthur Boyd. 

At the launch, Festival Director, Marion Roubos-Bennett said, “a writers festival enriches us all with the coming together of readers and ideas. We are diversifying our program to cover the vast range of readers tastes and our popular workshops will have a new stimulating series as well.

For the foodies among us, we welcome Annabel Morley, photographer Simon Griffiths and Biota Dining chef James Viles. Authors Mark Dapin, Meredith Jaffé and Rod Jones will be talking about their most recent books and offering a thoughtful commentary on Australian fiction this year. For poetry lovers, we welcome three wonderful local poets in Sarah Rice, Geoff Page and Paul Hetherington. And author of Love in the Outback and Australian Farming Families Deb Hunt will talk about the challenges of rural life.’

Earlybird Platinum Pass tickets are on sale now: www.batemansbaywritersfestival.com

or phone 0417 267 771 Check the website for program updates

For further information visit www.batemansbaywritersfestival.com

Media inquiries: Marion Roubos-Bennett 0417 267 771

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Lunch with Fleur McDonald and Josephine Moon

Monday 4 April 2016, 11:30 am for 12pm start.

$20 per person

RSVP in store or by phone 4472 9250 by 1 April


Morning Tea With Author Shirley Barrett

Hooked on Books

In Conjunction With The Batemans Bay Writers Festival

Invite You To A Morning Tea With Author Shirley Barrett.

Monday 2nd November, 2015

10:30am At The

Batemans Bay Soldiers Club.

Tickets Are $10 And Are Available At The Shop, Or By Calling 4472 9250

Shirley Barrett

Shirley Barrett 2
Shirley Barrett is best known for her work as a screenwriter and director. Shirley’s first film, Love Serenade won the Camera D’Or (Best First Feature) at Cannes Film Festival in 1996. The script for her film South Solitary won the Queensland Premier’s Prize (script) 2010, the West Australian Premier’s Literary Prize (script) 2010, and the West Australian Premier’s Prize 2010. Rush Oh! is Shirley’s first novel. She lives in Sydney, Australia.

Rush Oh 2

Rush Oh!

When the eldest daughter of a whaling family in Eden, New South Wales, sets out to chronicle the particularly difficult season of 1908, the story she tells is poignant and hilarious, filled with drama and misadventure.

Swinging from her own hopes and disappointments, both domestic and romantic, to the challenges that beset their tiny whaling operation, Mary’s tale is entirely relatable despite the hundred-odd years that separate her world from ours.

Chronicling her family’s struggle to survive the season and her own attempts to navigate an all-consuming crush on an itinerant whaleman with a murky past, Rush Oh! is also a celebration of an extraordinary episode in Australian history when a family of whalers formed a fond, unique allegiance with a pod of Killer whales – and in particular, a Killer whale named Tom.

All Eurobodalla Book Lovers Event

MarkHenshaw-credit-GeorgiaHenshawThe Book Lovers Event presented by U3A BB is open not only to U3A members but to all those who love books. This exciting event features Award winning Author Mark Henshaw in Conversation with Marion Roubos- Bennett, Director of Batemans Bay Writers Festival, plus a presentation by Eurobodalla Libraries on their digital services, a book exchange and afternoon tea. This event is being held 2-4pm on Thursday 17 September at the Bay Waters Holiday Resort corner Kings & Pacific Highways Batemans Bay.

The featured Author, Mark Henshaw, is the winner of the NSW Premier’s Literary Award for fiction for The Snow Kimono. U3A Book Group Co-ordinator Diana Cody says “The combined U3A Book Groups are delighted that Mark Henshaw has accepted their invitation to speak about his award-winning book which is a psychological thriller set in Japan, Paris and Algiers. So we are extending an invitation to all other Book Groups in the Shire as well as individual readers to attend.” Diana goes on to say “We are also very pleased that Marion – Roubos Bennett, Director of the Batemans Bay Writers Festival, has agreed to lead the discussion with Mark and we are inviting those attending to email their questions in advance to the contacts as set out below”.

The Snow Kimono is described in an interview with Susan Wyndham published in the Canberra Times as “a boldy creative and cinematic work” and Diana Cody adds “it is a complex book which we chose as an ideal subject for an in depth discussion with its author”. The first novel by Mark Henshaw, Out of the Line of Fire, was one of the biggest selling Australian literary novels of the decade. For many years Mark was a curator at the National Gallery of Australia. He only recently returned to writing fiction full-time The programme also features a presentation by Eurobodalla Libraries on their Digital Services, a Book Exchange in which guests can bring one or two books to swap and afternoon tea. Everyone is welcome, the entry fee is $5 and bookings are essential. For information and bookings contact Diana Cody [email protected] tel.44786 341 or Margaret McClintock [email protected] tel.4472 0336



Quoted from the Sydney Morning Herald’s article of 13 June 2015 by Susan Wyndham

“I spent last weekend at the Batemans Bay Writers Festival and I want to praise the entrepreneurial organisers. In its second year, the festival attracted a small but happy audience of South Coast locals plus some from Canberra and a few from Sydney and Melbourne.

Held on two bright days in a seaside resort with cabins for guests and a central hub for talks and book sales, it felt like Byron Bay Writers’ Festival in its early days 20 years ago – interesting, intimate and relaxed, if less bohemian. Festival Director Marion Roubos-Bennett put together a great program of talks and workshops by 20 writers including Graeme Simsion, James Bradley, Linda Jaivin, Mark Henshaw and Gabrielle Lord, as well as new and local names.

With just two sessions going at once I could see speakers I have missed at bigger festivals and discover others, and have dinner or coffee with them. Authors and audience members had a chance to talk. Roubos-Bennett and her volunteers were well-organised, generous and attentive hosts, and her husband Henk manned the green room, making excellent coffee and soup.

I urge any writer to accept an invitation, book lovers to plan a weekend there, and businesses to support a cultural event that enriches the region.”

Thanks Susan

Anne Buist

Anne BuistAnne Buist is the Chair of Women’s Mental Health at the University of Melbourne and has over 25 years clinical and research experience in perinatal psychiatry. She works with Protective Services and the legal system in cases of abuse, kidnapping, infanticide and murder. She has published ten erotic romance-suspense novels under the pseudonym Simone Sinna. Medea’s Curse is her first mainstream psychological thriller.

In Medea’s Curse, a female forensic psychiatrist works with victims and perpetrators of violent crime. She also rides a Ducati a size too big and wears a tank top a size too small. This edge-of-the-seat mystery is a story of choices ─ and what happens when you make the wrong one.

Emma Ashmere

Emma AshmereEmma has worked as a bookseller, in arts and university administration, and as a research assistant on two Australian gardening history books.Her short stories have won awards, and have appeared in The Age, Griffith Review, Sleepers Almanac and Etchings. She is working on her second novel.

The Floating Garden is a beautiful novel evoking the hardships and the glories of 1920s Sydney.         It tells the little-known story of those who faced upheaval because of the famous bridge.     Peopled by misfits, bohemians, charlatans, and fly-by-nighters, The Floating Garden is about shedding secrets, seizing second chances, and finding love among the ruins.

Gabrielle Lord

Gabrielle LordGabrielle Lord is widely acknowledged as one of Australia’s foremost crime fiction writers. She is the author of fourteen adult novels, and her stories and articles have appeared widely in the national press and anthologies. Her contemporary psychological thrillers are informed by a detailed knowledge of forensic procedures. In 2012, Gabrielle Lord received a Ned Kelly Lifetime Award for Crime Writing.

Gabrielle’s series for young adults, the award-winning Conspiracy 365, has been sold in thirteen countries and adapted into a television series.

In Dishonour, a Detective-Inspector heads up a new police unit targeting violence against women. Can she help a young woman who yearns for freedom, to lead her own life, while her brothers are planning to send her into a forced marriage in Iraq? In this bestseller Gabrielle taps straight into issues that create headlines.

Graeme Simsion

Graeme SimsionGraeme Simsion is an IT consultant and data analyst with an international reputation. He has taught at four Australian universities and is currently a Senior Research Fellow at Melbourne University. Graeme writes short stories, plays, screenplays and non-fiction.

As Booktopia Buzz Editor Caroline Baum says of The Rosie Project: ‘When rights to a debut novel are sold in more than thirty countries, you know a book is generating serious buzz’. The book was on Bill Gates’ Six Books for Summer Reading list last year.

The Rosie Effect is a charming and hilarious romantic comedy and is the spellbinding sequel to the international bestseller The Rosie Project, which began life as a screenplay.

Hannie Rayson

Hannie RaysonHannie Rayson is a playwright and screenwriter. Her works, including Hotel Sorrento, Inheritance and Life After George, have been performed around Australia and internationally.   She has been awarded two Australian Writers’ Guild Awards, four Helpmann Awards, two NSW Premier’s Literary Awards and a Victorian Premier’s Literary Award. Her play Life After George was the first play to be nominated for the Miles Franklin Literary Award.

In her new book, Hello Beautiful! she shines the spotlight on herself. This collection of stories from a dramatic life, radiate with the great warmth and humour that has made Hannie one of the best-known playwrights in the country. From a childhood in Brighton to a urinary tract infection in Spain; from a body buried under the house to a play on a tram, Hello Beautiful! captures a life behind the scenes ─ a life of tender moments, hilarious encounters and, inevitably, drama.

Harry Laing

Harry LaingHarry Laing is a writer and comic performer. His most recent collection of poetry, Backbone, came out in 2010. He has written and performed 8 solo shows and his staged radio show Under Braidwood was a local success last year. Harry’s collection of poems for 8-12 yr olds, Shoctopus, is due out shortly. Together with his wife Nicola Bowery he runs PoetryAlive weekends at Geebung, their property near Braidwood.

Hazel Hall

Hazel HallPoet Hazel Hall is currently Cafe Poet at Biginelli Espresso at the ANU School of Music in Canberra. Along with other poets, Hazel explores the relationship between poetry and music, and liaises with composers and musicians to create and perform new works.

James Bradley

James BradleyJames Bradley is the author of four novels, WrackThe Deep Field, The Resurrectionist, and his recently published Clade. He has twice been named as one of the Sydney Morning Herald’s Best Young Australian Novelists and has won the Fellowship of Australian Writers Literature Award, the Kathleen Mitchell Literary Award and has been shortlisted for the Miles Franklin Literary Award. His novels have also been widely translated.

In Wrack, which is on the HSC list for 2015, an archaeologist is searching for a 400-year-old Portuguese shipwreck off the coast of New South Wales. Such a find would rewrite the history of Australia. But instead he unearths the body of a man murdered fifty years earlier. Wrack is a novel of unusual reach and suggestive power.

Clade is a provocative, urgent novel about time, family and how a changing planet might change our lives. Compelling, challenging and resilient, Clade canvasses three generations, from the very near future to late this century. And it raises profound questions about human survival.

Jane Cornelius

Jane CorneliusJane Cornelius lived and worked in Bali, until she met and fell in love with the wrong man, who abandoned her in the UK, leaving her five months pregnant and with no money or home. Desperate, she turned to her father, but he abandoned her too and she had to ask the Social Services for support. In a tiny cottage in Glastonbury, her daughter Poppy was born.

Jane hoped for a different life for her daughter. She sold everything and bought an around-the-world ticket. When Poppy was a 12-week-old baby, they left the UK and travelled through Bali, across Australia, Hawaii and America and Jane didn’t give up until she found what she was looking for. Baby and a Backpack is her story.

Jeff Apter

Apter_redIn a career spanning 20 years and 15 books, Jeff Apter has written extensively about the world of music. He is senior writer for Oz Rolling Stone and he also writes for South Coast Style and the Sydney Morning Herald where he frequently writes CD reviews. His critically well-received books include biographies of ‘Shirley’ Strachan from Skyhooks, and Dragon’s Marc Hunter. His latest book, Up from down under, tells the remarkable untold story of how Australian music took over the world.

Julia Prendergast

Julia Prendergast BBWFAfter earning the highly coveted Library Award upon graduating Primary School, Julia put her love for books to practical use and completed a Bachelor of Arts in history with honours in politics at University of Wollongong. She has now moved on to a Masters of Applied Anthropology at ANU. Julia loves all things expressive, including music, art and literature. A keen researcher, she pursues the why, who, what, when and where of anything to do with people, places and politics.

Julia volunteers at the Batemans Bay Old Courthouse Museum, where she continues to develop her skills and passion for historical research.

Julie Janson

Julie JansonPlaywright Julie Janson has worked for many years in Aboriginal education, as a teacher and lecturer, and in community, fringe, and children’s theatre. Julie has written 10 plays including Black Mary produced by Belvoir St Theatre Company B with SOCOG, for the Olympic Festival of the Dreaming.

The Crocodile Hotel is an epic story of a young Aboriginal single mother’s awakening of identity and compassion in a remote Northern Territory community in 1976. The story strikes deep into Australia’s heart and may challenge the way you think about Australia’s history. The Crocodile Hotel is the first novel by this celebrated Aboriginal playwright.

Kathy Kituai

Kathy Kituai

Poet and diarist, Kathy Kituai is the founder and facilitator of Limestone Tanka Poets. She has facilitated creative writing workshops in Australia and Scotland, and has received two Canberra Critics CircleAwards. Kathy has been an Assistant Editor for the Institute of PNG Studies, Creative Editor for Muse Magazine (Canberra) and Fellowship of Australian Writers President.

She has also published seven poetry collections, Deep in the Valley of Tea Bowls (forthcoming 2015), a CD The heart takes wing, anthologies, a children’s picture book, and a dramatized documentary for radio.  Her work is published internationally.

Linda Jaivin

Linda JaivinLinda Jaivin is the internationally published author of nine books, both fiction and non-fiction. Her first novel, Eat Me, was a best-seller in both Australia and overseas. Her fifth novel, The Infernal Optimist, was short-listed for the Australian Literature Society Gold Medal and has been optioned for a feature film. Linda is also the author of numerous published short stories and essays, including for The Monthly and Quarterly Essay. She has also written for the theatre and is a literary and film translator from Chinese.

Shifting between the 1940s and today, The Empress Lover tells the story of a scholar who may, or may not, have been the lover of the Empress Dowager of China, and that of an Australian woman who works as a translator subtitling films in Beijing. It is a novel of love, loss, identity and history from one of Australia’s finest novelists.

Maggie MacKellar

Maggie MacKellarMaggie MacKellar lectured in Australian and cross-cultural comparative history at the University of Sydney. She spent three months hiking, camping and kayaking in the Alaskan wilderness with the National Outdoor Leadership School. She has published two books on the history of settlement in Australia and Canada, and two memoirs.

In When It Rains Maggie shares her grief that follows the tragic loss of her young husband and beloved mother in two short years. Deciding to return with her children to the family farm in central western New South Wales, the book tracks Maggie’s gradual healing as she pieces her life back together. Her second memoir How to Get There is about the unexpected joys and complexities of finding love again, and moving with her two children and assorted menagerie to Tasmania.