26 May 2023

Jugiong Writers' Festival brings books (and writers) to the bush

| Claire Sams
Start the conversation
Jugiong Writers' Festival

Organisers are hoping the 2023 festival brings a return to form after the COVID-19 pandemic interrupted 2021. Photo: Visit Jugiong.

Jugiong Writers’ Festival is returning to the Memorial Hall on 17 June, set to bring reading, writing and really good fun to young and old.

Chair of the Jugiong Writer’s Festival Committee Freda Nicholls and her team were busy putting together their first full offering after the COVID-19 pandemic, with the theme ‘Moments on the Murrumbidgee’.

“This will be our first one with authors and moderators again, which is quite exciting,” she said. “Just bring warm clothes, enthusiasm and preparedness to have fun.”

Jugiong is located 90 minutes down the Hume Highway from Canberra, on the banks of the Murrumbidgee River.

READ ALSO Spreading the word: Sydney Writers’ Festival to be livestreamed to South Coast and Riverina

Eagle-eyed readers will note the Writer’s Festival is in the diary for June – a deviation from its normal scheduling in autumn. Ms Nicholls said they have changed the date to accommodate Gundagai-born, award-winning crime author Michael Robotham.

“We’ve asked him every year to come, and he hasn’t been able to because he is always in such demand around the world,” she said. “Normally we run this in autumn, but we put it off to June because we can fit in with him then.”

Other authors on the festival line-up include Karen Viggers, Sally Warriner, Robert Gott, Sulari Gentill and Robyn Cadwallader, with Deb Stevens, Ms Viggers, Rachel Graham and Region‘s Genevieve Jacobs serving as moderators. Mr Robotham, Ms Gentill and Mr Gott will also be participating in a panel discussion on crime writing.

The festival’s full return followed a COVID-19 interrupted showing in 2021, as Ms Nicholls said. “During 2021, we only ran workshops that complied with the restrictions, which went really well.”

“But we didn’t have the talk – so this will be our first one with authors and moderators again, which is quite exciting,” she added.

READ ALSO Line-up announced for second Wanderer Festival on Far South Coast

The money raised by the Writers’ Festival will go towards helping local children improve their reading and writing skills.

Ms Nicholls and the team are hard at work preparing for the return of Small Schools Day, which is expected to run later this year.

Their efforts started with Small Schools Day in 2013, where they worked with schoolchildren from the Jugiong area.

“We put a pin in a map and did a 40-kilometre radius of Jugiong, where there are several small schools there,” Ms Nicholls said. “We asked authors, an Aboriginal storyteller, a cartoonist and a poet to come, and we ran a whole day and had lots of fun with the students.”

They expanded their offerings soon after, working with high schools to run creative writing workshops for year 9 and year 11 students.

“These were really well received, including by some kids who didn’t even think that they could write,” she said. “Some of the works that I saw were just incredible, it was terrific.”

They also sponsor several prizes for students, who can currently submit their short stories and poems before the 18 September deadline.

“Most states and territories have sent entries in the past – we get hundreds of entries every year,” Ms Nicholls said. “The standard of work is incredible.”

Ms Nicholls said fundraising is an important element of the festival. “We’re really proud of the fact that we’re putting so much back into the community – and by people attending, they’re also doing that, which is lovely.”

Jugiong Writers’ Festival takes place at Jugiong Memorial Hall on 17 June. Tickets cost $80 and are available for purchase via Eventbrite.

Start the conversation

Daily Digest

Do you like to know what’s happening around your region? Every day the About Regional team packages up our most popular stories and sends them straight to your inbox for free. Sign-up now for trusted local news that will never be behind a paywall.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.