2019 Program

Pre-Festival Events

Homegrown Hobsons Bay – Panel Discussion – A Great Escape

Reading and libraries – the ultimate escapes! The journey through a good book can be an unforgettable adventure, with the public library the domain of otherworldly escapes. Homegrown Hobsons Bay writers Susan Spelic, Jonathan Griffiths, Mary Burbridge, Stella Stamatakis and Janet Howie explore the notion of escape and adventure in...
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Mary Burbidge
Susan Spelic
Jonathan Griffiths
Janet Howie

Willy Lit Fest Opening Night Soiree

Celebrate our 16th year with a special opening night event at the luscious Sebastian Beach Grill overlooking the Bay. Enjoy a night of sparkling conversation with a glass of something equally sparkling, along with a serve of delicious canapés. Special Festival Guest, the international best selling and ex westie Caroline...
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Stella Kinsella
Caroline Overington
Day 1
15 Jun 2019
Day 2
16 Jun 2019


Tumble down the rabbit hole with George Ivanoff speaking with Claire Saxby and Judy Horacek to fathom the role imagination plays in the development of young minds. To dream, to inspire, to wonder… what is the rocket fuel that keeps that spark firing? Judy Horacek is a cartoonist and children’s...
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Judy Horacek
George Ivanoff
Claire Saxby

Turbulence – King of the Air: Charles Kingsford Smith

Soar to unthinkable heights, as renowned biographer, Ann Blainey takes you inside the rise and fall of Australia’s King of the Air, Charles Kingsford Smith. History remembers his courage and charm, but Ann reveals the struggles that lay within  ‘Our Smithy.’ Full $15 | Conc $12| Early $10 The book...
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Ann Blainey

You Daughters of Freedom

You Daughters of Freedom – The Australians Who Won the Vote and Inspired the World What will a son of the west make of these Daughters of Freedom? Elected member for Gellibrand and author of “Two Futures, Australia at a Critical Moment” Tim Watts, locks horns with award winning historian...
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Tim Watts
Clare Wright

Choose Your Own Felon – Workshop

In this workshop best-selling author Vikki Petraitis offers plenty of practical tips and exercises to get your crime writing ideas flowing. Activities and discussions will include: how to create a compelling detective, how to plot for maximum impact, where to set your story, and how to choose a crime that...
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Vikki Petraitis

Endangered: Writing to the Eleventh Hour

Ostriches, as it happens, do not bury their heads in the sand. They do, however, use their heads to turn eggs in the nest. Explode the myths at this critical session that brings scientific minds behind fiction, non fiction and childrens’ authors together with astonishing stories of survival and the...
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Rohan Cleave
Sarah Hamilton
John Woinarski
Leah Kaminsky

Axiomatic – The Past is Not Dead

Does time really heal all wounds? Is there such a thing as ‘closure’ or are we deluding ourselves? Join Dmetri Kakmi as he talks to Maria Tumarkin about memory, having the courage to face the traumas of the past and finding the courage to write your way to a slippery...
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Dmetri Kakmi
Maria Tumarkin


Local legend, Leigh Hobbs loves language…specifically words. Author, David Astle loves Wordburgers! Together, the two are certain to puzzle and delight children and the children at heart! A side of fries won’t be necessary, as this burger is packed full of games, codes for cracking, ‘cheesy puns’ and extra pickles!...
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Leigh Hobbs
David Astle

The Ada Cambridge Awards

The Ada Cambridge Awards For the first time in the history of the Ada Cambridge Writing Prizes, submissions to the prose and poetry sections were open to all Victorian writers. Join author, Carmel Bird for an hour of celebration, when she announces the winners of the Biographical Prose, Poetry and...
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Carmel Bird

The Ones That Got Away

Award winning journalist and best selling author of crime fiction Caroline Overington speaks with award winning journalist and best-selling author of true crime Matt Condon about the ones that got away, the elusive ideas that never found purchase, the slippery eels that couldn’t be caught. Full $30 | Conc $25...
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Matthew Condon
Caroline Overington

Sensory Overload

What is adventure for young readers exposed and potentially inured to global events and crises? What is adventure these days? Three authors: Nova Weetman, Rob Newton and Lili Wilkinson are compelled to pay this heed discuss with author and blogger Danielle Binks about the impact on authors who write for...
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Lili Wilkinson
Nova Weetman
Danielle Binks
Robert Newton

Unchartered Territory and Dangerous Waters

Gather round an open fire in the Pirate’s Tavern, in the heart of Williamstown’s historic docks. Lose yourself to history, as Preservation author, Jock Serong, and Fled author, Meg Keneally travel broiling seas and hostile countryside. Two titles to re-imagine history, bending the line, full immersion. With award-winning historian and...
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Meg Keneally
Jock Serong
Clare Wright

The Hero Went Thataway – Write Your Own Adventure

The Hero Went Thataway – 100 Story Building – Write Your Own Adventure A fabulous session for children ages 8 to 12. Ever wondered what would happen if a character in a book went through a different door? Or jumped out of the window? Or just turned around and walked...
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Ben McKenzie

The New Puberty: What to Expect Even If You’re Not Expecting

Fasten your seatbelts, it’s going to be a bumpy night.’ Or in the case of female hormones, a night to last an age. The female journey is a complicated mind warp for all involved. You don’t need Bette Davis eyes to see that. Amanda Dunn knows this intimately and wants...
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Amanda Dunn
Stella Kinsella

People’s Choice Awards

In this, the most fun writing competition in the West, 18 local writers each read aloud a 4-minute piece of their own. There are prizes for both prose and poetry. At the end our enthusiastic audience votes on whose work they enjoyed the most: “The People’s Choice” for 2019. Don’t...
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Chris Ringrose
Anna Brasier

Out of the Shadows: True Crime Comes of Age

The rise and rise of true crime With the recent advent of the true crime podcast, the genre’s popularity has reached epic proportions. The most popular podcasts have downloads in the millions. How does the public’s interest in true stories affect their reading habits? Do true-crime books and podcasts cross-pollinate?...
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Liz Porter
Helen Thomas
Claire Halliday
Vikki Petraitis

Sci Fi vs Fantasy: An Informal Debate

Join Radio Melbourne Breakfast co host Jacinta Parsons with three of Australia’s best selling YA authors  to debate the merits of Sci Fi vs Fantasy; which genre better delivers the cautionary tale? Come along to hear Rebecca Lim, Michael Pryor, Gabriel Bergmoser and Williamstown High’s debate candidate Elena Turner to...
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Jacinta Parsons
Michael Pryor
Gabriel Bergmoser
Rebecca Lim

Pathways To Publishing – SOLD OUT!

This session has SOLD OUT. Please take a look at some of our other workshops.   Stephen King says of writing, “What separates the talented individual from the successful one is a lot of hard work.” Writing courses make a great starting point, but what more does a writer need...
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Lucia Nardo
Enza Gandolfo

Gorgeous Girl – Descent Into Memoir

Behind the happy facade children’s author Mary K Pershall’s book suggested, she was otherwise enmeshed into a personal descent into horror. Her daughter Anna, serving time in a Melbourne jail for murder, was the final act of a lifetime of calamity. For Mary, her only means of making sense of...
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Mary K Pershall
Amanda Dunn

Adults with Words – Rod Quantock and David Astle

The brain is a complicated beast – a cryptic wonderland. David Astle is keen on Rewording the Brain – offering up new and clever ways to get us thinking differently. Living Treasure and veteran wordsmith Rod Quantock, will lead David on a brain trek. Join the voyage. Full $20 |...
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David Astle
Rod Quantock

An Adventure in Regret – Bad Diary Salon

We’ve all written without censorship to the almighty Diary Gods. No one will ever hear your cringeworthy, most inner thoughts….. Or will they? The Bad Diaries Salon was established mid-2017 with a call out from author, Jenny Ackland on Twitter – were there any writers who still had their old,...
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Jenny Ackland

Stereo Stories In Concert

Join us for a concert celebration of music and memoir hosted by Vin Maskell, featuring stories by Arnold Zable, Andy Griffiths, Melanie Cheng, Torre DeRoche, Jock Serong, Rijn Collins and Brian Nankervis – all backed by The Stereo Stories Band, playing songs by Marlon Williams, Etta James, The Indigo Girls,...
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Vin Maskell

The Enigmatic Mr Deakin: A White Hot Flame

Explore the challenges of biographical writing with Sue Taffe – author of A White Hot Flame: Mary Montgomerie Bennett, an important but virtually unknown white advocate of Aboriginal rights, and Judith Brett, winner of the 2018 National Biography Award for her work on Australia’s second Prime Minister, The Enigmatic Mr...
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Georgina Arnott
Judith Brett
Sue Taffe

Audio Rising

One of the great and unexpected market trends is the uptake of audio literature. Audio book and Podcast consumption is booming. Where are you in all of this? Listener, creator, producer; if you aren’t into audio content, you might be missing out. This panel of audio content creators gives indie...
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Dave Stokes
Susan Spelic
Richard Evans
Cristina Lee

Thirty Years of Writing – Writers Victoria

Writers Victoria turns 30 in 2019. To mark this milestone, we’re delighted to present this panel to celebrate Victorian writing. Join us to hear Terry Jaensch, Lili Wilkinson, Katherine Brabon and Lee Kofman share readings of their work and discuss what it means to be a writer in Victoria today....
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Lili Wilkinson
Lee Kofman
Terry Jaensch
Katherine Brabon

Adventures with Andy Griffiths

Adventure awaits for any who dare to climb… and climb and climb! Andy Griffiths – a Festival favourite – will be ready for shenanigans, as he takes kids (and grown ups) on a very special tour of his treehouse. Silliness is popular in these parts, so book your tickets early,...
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Andy Griffiths

(What’s not to) Love Your Library

Libraries are portals to adventure, gateways to infinite information, a superhighway to untold worlds. Hobsons Bay Libraries offer residents and visitors a vast number of services and assistance. Author and antiquarian book authority, Stuart Kells and award-winning author, Claire Saxby sell the sausage and the sizzle with Librarian Chris Buckingham....
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Chris Buckingham
Claire Saxby
Stuart Kells

Into the Fire: Female Friendship Raked Over the Coals

Nothing is more incendiary than the fires of friendship. Who’s to blame when that flame burns out? Join author ​Sonia Orchard in intimate conversation with social commentator ​Clementine Ford​ exploring why we betray our friends, our ideals, and ourselves. ​Into the Fire​ examines in painful clarity the anguish of lost...
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Clementine Ford
Sonia Orchard

The House: Edifice as Icon

Arguably, the best-loved building in Australia, the Sydney Opera House nearly didn’t get off the drawing board. When it did, the lives of everyone involved in its construction were utterly changed: some for the better, many for the worse. From idea to opening, it took nearly two decades, four premiers,...
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Helen Pitt
Enza Gandolfo

Indie Publishing in a Digital World –  Workshop

What are the pros and cons of self-publishing, vanity presses, and mainstream publishing? Join Debbie Lee from IngramSpark in this workshop as she compares each of the different publishing options, as well as the process to self-publication. The conversation will cover print-on-demand (POD) versus offset printing, book marketing, global distribution,...
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Deborah Lee

The Nowhere Child

John Gregory Dunne compared adapting a novel to screenplay as turning a sofa into a chair. What then happens to a screenwriter’s meticulous technique in the understated art of screenwriting, set loose to write long-form prose? The result is one of the fastest selling debut novels for Christian White. His...
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Christian White
Peter Docker

High Tea and High Romance in the Age of #MeToo

Amid the seismic shiver of the #metoo movement, where is romance fiction in this watershed? Enjoy an afternoon of tea, cake and maybe more as this panel of romance authors and industry professional come to grips with the bodice rippers of a new era. With Beverley Oakley, Sasha Cottman and...
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Anne Gracie
Beverley Oakley
Sasha Cottman

I’ll Stand With You: The Peter Norman Story

Olympic success doesn’t necessarily bring fame. Sometimes legacy costs you everything. Peter Norman is the greatest hero you never knew. Someone who did know, was his nephew Matt Norman. Enjoy a session when film makers Sue Thomson and actor/producer and now author, Matt Norman discuss how a family story sparked...
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Sue Thomson
Matt Norman

SOLD OUT – A Long Way From No Go: Telling the Hard Truths

Please note this session is SOLD OUT. Chrissie Foster AM (Hell on the way to Heaven) knows better than most how difficult it is to share hard truths. Standing up in the face of injustice – sharing stories that demand to be heard. Tjanara Goreng Goreng pulls no punches in...
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Chrissie Foster AM
Tjanara Goreng Goreng

The People vs the Banks

‘Never get between a politician and a bucket of money,’ once said ex PM Paul Keating. The Banking Royal Commission was both scourge and succour to the people for whom they served. George Megalogenis meets the man behind The People vs. The Banks – journalist, Michael Roddan  to unpack what...
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Michael Roddan
George Megalogenis

High Tea and High Romance Adventures

If romance is one of the biggest adventures we can experience in life, what does romance as a genre enable readers to learn about themselves when presumably, there will be a happy ending? We know romantic encounters do not often end well for many, so is romance writing escapism or...
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Ebony McKenna
Leisl Leighton
Deborah Tait

Growing Up African in Australia

Growing Up African in Australia takes a look at the stories of African-diaspora Australians. Writer and journalist, Ahmed Yussef will walk us through the worlds of  Tariro Mavondo, Adut Wol Akec and Khalid Warsame and their unique perspective on the neighbourhood. Full $20 | Conc $18 | Early $15  
Khalid Warsame
Tariro Mavondo
Adut Wol Akec
Ahmed Yussuf

My Lucky Life: A Memoir, Don’t Forget Your Binoculars

Greg Miles called his first horse race in 1978. In a career spanning over 40 years, Miles called a record-breaking 36 Cup Carnivals, calling such champions down the straight as Winx, Black Caviar and Makybe Diva. Married to Alison and father to 3 children, Miles called his final race at...
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Greg Miles
John Harms

They Saw a Thylacine- Rehearsed Play Reading

Justine Campbell and Sarah Hamilton will read their multi-award winning play, They Saw a Thylacine, conjuring the ghost of one of Australia’s lost beauties. With all the suspense of a campfire story, these feisty, funny women weave a lyrical tale of adversity and extinction. Published by Currency Press in the...
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Justine Campbell
Sarah Hamilton

Eden Unplugged- Book Launch

Jonathan Griffiths launches his latest novel, Eden Unplugged, the second volume in the Eden trilogy, an escapist fantasy. Planet Earth is headed for disaster but she was a secret twin, Eden. Join us for drinks, nibbles and a glimpse into a better world. Free Event  (Bookings Required)
Jonathan Griffiths

The Examined Life – Kerry O’Brien

Kerry O’Brien’s life has spanned the post-war era through the maelstrom of the nuclear and digital age. He has witnessed life changing events, interviewed the great and good, and explained the intricacies of the world to millions of Australians. Enjoy our special closing night event when Member for Broadmeadows, Frank...
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Frank McGuire
Kerry O’Brien


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