Kids Big Day Out at Byron Writers Festival

Kids Big Day Out host, master showman Shep Huntly. Photo Lyn McCarthy

Byron Writers Festival has pulled out all stops to create a day full of fun, inspiration and creativity to ignite the imaginations of children at Festival Sunday on 5 August. Eight acclaimed children’s authors (see program) will face their toughest and most vocal audience at the Greenstones Partners marquee, each delivering a 30-minute set of wall-to-wall enjoyment.

Over in the StoryBoard StorySpace, keep young minds and hands occupied with free drop-in workshops. Activities include Book Making with Zanni Louise, Samantha Turnbull’s ‘Fierce Girls’ podcast listening booth and Story Sleuthing with Tristan Bancks.

Tickets only $40 (includes one child and one accompanying adult), via

The Echo spoke to some local kids about what they’re looking forward to at this year’s Kids Big Day Out and their love of writing…

I am looking forward to the Kids Big Day Out because I get to see lots of authors. I really like getting my books signed because it makes my books more special. I have been going to the festival since I was four! I love it. I like watching Shep Huntly because he is funny. I like reading because it takes me to another world.
Sasha, aged 8

Writing makes me feel alive. It’s like being dumped in freezing ice water the second you’ve woken up warm in bed. Words are refreshing and the feeling of letting go and just putting words on a page gives me a jittery buzz. Sometimes it feels like my creativity is building up, so writing is a relief too. It makes me feel awake.
India, aged 14

I am excited to meet all of the amazing authors such as Oliver Phommavanh and Eddie Ayres. I like meeting other kids who enjoy reading and writing as much as I do. I love reading because it helps me escape into another world where I can be creative and free from anything that is bothering me. I love to write because it really helps me relax and reminds me that there are amazing things in life, you just need to look for them. I also love seeing the end result of my story and the joy other people have reading them.
Jessica, aged 12

I can’t wait to see Lian Tanner because I thoroughly enjoyed reading The Rogues, which is an exciting story about two kids who are given magical objects. I like books because they transport you to an alternative world and you can let go of your worries and your reality and enter someone else’s universe. I love to read because my head and imagination bring the characters and story to life.
Misha, aged 11

Bri Lee, author of Eggshell Skull

Eggshell Skull:Bri Lee to talk about standing up, speaking out and fighting back at Byron Writers Festival

Eggshell skull is a well-established legal doctrine that a defendant must ‘take their victim as they find them’. If a single punch kills someone because of their thin skull, that victim’s weakness cannot mitigate the seriousness of the crime. 

But what if it also works the other way? What if a defendant on trial for sexual crimes has to accept his ‘victim’ as she comes: a strong, determined accuser who knows the legal system and who will not back down until justice is done? 

Bri Lee began her first day of work at the Queensland District Court as a bright-eyed judge’s associate. Two years later she was back as the complainant in her own case.

This is the story of Bri’s journey through the Australian legal system: first as the daughter of a policeman, then as a law student, and finally as a judge’s associate in both metropolitan and regional Queensland, where justice can look very different, especially for women.

The injustice Bri witnessed, mourned and raged over every day finally forced her to confront her own personal history, one she’d vowed never to tell. And this is how, after years of struggle, she found herself on the other side of the courtroom, telling her story.

Eggshell Skull is her fierce and eloquent memoir that addresses both Bri’s own reckoning with the past as well as with the stories around her, to speak the truth with wit, empathy and unflinching courage.

• Bri Lee will be appearing at Byron Writers Festival in conversation with Ailsa Piper on Friday 3 August, in the sessions Abuse of Power and Privilege, What if Women Ruled the World, and Shaping Life into Story on Saturday 4 August, and A Genderless World? on Sunday 5 August. Tickets at

Micheline Jenner.
Photo Jonathan Rowden

The Secret Life of Whales

Marine biologist Micheline Jenner has discovered humpback breeding grounds off the Kimberley coast, has swum through orange golf-ball-sized pygmy blue whale poo to uncover a feeding spot, and is one of very few people to witness a humpback whale giving birth. In The Secret Life of Whales she reveals the unknown world of these giants of the deep and shares insights from her work with humpback, blue and pygmy blue whales, taking us from Australia to Antarctica and beyond.

As a featured guest at this year’s festival, Micheline Jenner, who also raised two daughters at sea, will reveal fascinating information about how whales live, tapping into her world-leading research and incredible enthusiasm for these magnificent creatures.

• Catch Micheline Jenner at Byron Writers Festival on Friday 3 August in the session The Secret Life of Whales and on Saturday 4 August in the session Telling Stories for Science and on Sunday 5 August in the session Whales: Why They Speak to Our Psyche. Tickets at

Tickets at

• See more news and articles on the 2018 Byron Writers Festival.

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