Sunday 18 August 2013

Mudgee Readers' Festival

Last weekend I had the particular pleasure of travelling to Mudgee for their fourth annual Readers' Festival. Mudgee is a small town in the Central West of New South Wales, that has made a good name for itself as a food and wine destination, and is now showing us how to put on a Readers' Festival- an interesting change in emphasis, most of these events are called Writers' Festivals.

Australia has quite a few major literary events of course- Sydney Writers' Festival (May), Melbourne Writers Festival (late August), Byron Bay Writers' Festival (earlyAugust). There seem to be more all the time. Newcastle hosted their first Writers Festival this year (and I couldn't go- such despair). Indeed there are so many that these kindly folks at have set up a website to keep track of them all- actually I had no idea that there were SO many festivals, it could be a full-time job attending them all.

A few years ago a couple of farsighted individuals dreamed up the notion of staging a Readers' Festival in Mudgee, and with a wonderful small town spirit of can do, they did. They had a great line up again this year, and a last minute decision or two got me there.

There were 12 authors, in 17 sessions, some In Conversation, some panel discussions, a dinner on the Saturday night and Long Lunch on the Sunday afternoon. There was a second hand book fair on the Saturday and I may have bought a few books there, as well as some by the featured authors.

Bettina Arndt
Richard Beasley
Stephanie Dowrick
Mem Fox
Peter Goldsworthy
Katherine Howell
Susan Johnson
Toni Jordan
Tara Moss
Berndt Sellheim
Sarah Turnbull
Chris Turney

I got to see 10 of the 12 authors in the six sessions I attended.

They were all interesting sessions, and I totally loved 5 of the 6. Even so, I enjoyed them all, and got something out of each and every one. I hope to write a bit about some of my favourite sessions separately.

I think it's fantastic that a town of 10,000 people can hold such an amazing event. I hope to make a return visit next year.


Yvonne @ Fiction Books Reviews said...

Hi Louise,

I love the concept of a Reader's Festival, it is very innovative and completely accurate in its description ... it literally 'does what it says on the tin'!

Over here in the UK, most venues and locations still advertise their events as Literary Festivals and they are growing in number at an exponential rate.

Just about every town, no matter how small, seems to host an event now and there is simply no way that you could hope to attend them all. To be fair, it is generally the same authors names that appear time and time again on schedules and with every bookshop holding regular 'meet the author' sessions, you really only need to attend one or two venues a year to see most of the authors on the circuit!

Mudgee is such a great sounding place for a festival and it looks like a quaint little place to visit. Glad you had a good time at your first festival, devoted to you, the reader.


skiourophile said...

That sounds like a nice intimate sized festival - I found the Sydney WF quite intimidating: so many choices, so many people, so many queues! It sounds like a great idea, and also an opportunity to sample some country hospitality.

Brona said...

The readers festival started after my time in Mudgee :-( and I must organise to go back for it one of these years.
I used to work at the preschool there, and my friends/former colleagues have sent me pics of Mem Fox's visit to the centre to spend time with the kids and sign books etc.

Anonymous said...

I love Mudgee too and have been wanting to go back. Canberra had a Readers Festival in 2012 for the international Year of Reading ... Eye hoped it would become an event, but it didn't unless the go biennial. I'm watching out. We had a Word Festival for many years ... But that fell by the wayside in I think the 90s. Fortunately the NLA puts on literary talks and events but it's a shame we don't have our own festival.