29 August 2023

Write at home: Much-loved festival to showcase South Coast's talented authors

| Claire Sams
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Andrew Gray says the returning HeadLand Writers Festival “celebrates writing in many forms”. Photo: Supplied.

The beachside town of Tathra will once again host readers and writers from far and wide when an annual festival returns.

Executive director of South East Arts and festival producer Andrew Gray said the upcoming HeadLand Writers Festival had been deliberately designed with variety in mind.

“I engage a festival director, Myoung Jae Yi, and he’s an independent bookshop owner,” Mr Gray said.

“It’s part of his job to be in touch with publishers all the time and to know about books that are coming out and interesting authors.

“He puts together the main writers’ program, and then together we program the other components.”

While the full program is set to be released in early September, Mr Gray told Region the festival would be held across three venues: Tathra Hall, Tathra Uniting Church and the Tathra Hotel.

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The three-day festival will include theatre performances, workshops, poetry, a chance for a pre-chosen play manuscript to receive feedback, a book launch, panel discussions and more.

“We’re just finalising key names that have come through in the last week,” Mr Gray said.

“The schedule includes things like poet breakfasts, music performances, a songwriter session, a pop-up bookshop and a few other discussions between people.

“We want a good, diverse festival that celebrates writing in many forms.”

Also on the festival program are free events, including one-off performances.

“There’s going to be a First Nations dance and storytelling event, and part of the theme of that will be Aboriginal dances and storytellers reflecting on the impact of the Black Summer bushfires,” Mr Gray said.

He said he was encouraged by the sellout of early-bird tickets.

“That has been really encouraging because that’s indicating that there’s an audience out there full of people who want to go to Tathra for the weekend and get involved,” he said.

“That success tells us that they’re genuinely excited about being able to hear from a range of authors.”

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For Mr Gray, part of the HeadLand Writers Festival’s appeal is its focus away from metropolitan cities since its launch several years ago.

“For me, personally, this is a fantastic festival to present because it brings nationally recognised writers straight to our region,” he said.

“Normally, people who live down here would have to travel to Sydney, to Melbourne, to Canberra to see this level of writers, but also local writers or ones that have a connection to the area.

“I think that’s a further source of pride for people to see some of the people that live and work in the region involved in the festival.”

The HeadLand Writers Festival will be held from 27-29 October.

Tickets can be purchased from the festival’s website and are set to launch in September, with session, day and weekend passes available.

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