Big thinkers assemble for writers festival

Author Robert Drew, festival director Edwina Johnson, festival chair Jennifer St George and festival board member Adam Van Kempen. Photo Jeff Dawson

One of Byron Shire’s most treasured festivals, the Byron Writers Festival, has named those who will engage with ideas, storytelling and conversations from August 3 till 5 at the Elements of Byron resort.

Festival director Edwina Johnson said, ‘I am thrilled to introduce such diverse, talented writers and influential thinkers, and know they will spark fascinating and inspiring conversations. There will truly be something for everyone this year.’

Acclaimed writers Robert Drewe, Tom Keneally, Michelle de Kretser and crime sensation Jane Harper will appear, as well as Saudi activist Manal al-Sharif, who challenged a kingdom of men by Daring to Drive.

North Korean defector and New York Times bestseller Hyeonseo Lee will discuss her book The Girl with Seven Names.

Norwegian investigative journalists Eskil Engdal and Kjetil Saeter will talk about their book Catching Thunder, which tells the true story of the world’s longest sea chase.

The festival will also present the extraordinary tale of Miriam Lancewood and her book, Woman in the Wilderness, while Gregory Smith (Out of the Forest) will share his experiences living for many years in the wilds of New Zealand and the forest of northern NSW.

Political junkies will get their fix with deputy leader of the opposition Tanya Plibersek and Anne Aly, Australia’s first female federal parliamentarian of Muslim faith who recently released her memoir Finding My Place: From Cairo to Canberra.

Adding to the bill are  Greenpeace Australia Pacific CEO and The Coal Truth author David Ritter, acclaimed Australian visual artist Tracey Moffatt, musician, raconteur, You Am I frontman and Detours memoirist Tim Rogers, UK poet and broadcaster Lemn Sissay and hilarious Thai-riffic! and children’s author Oliver Phommavanh.

Additionally, wellbeing activist, writer, minimalist and I Quit Sugar entrepreneur Sarah Wilson will speak, whose recent book First, We Make the Beast Beautiful rethinks our approach to anxiety.


Earlybird tickets for Byron Writers Festival go on sale on May 30 until sold out.

General release tickets, including three-day passes, one-day passes and separately ticketed feature events and workshops will go on sale when the full program is announced on June 13.

Tickets available at

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