For our newer readers, I’ve found out that originally this was a garage and workshop for the Dark family, but was converted into office space by Rhonda Flottman, Varuna’s first executive officer (thanks to Barbara Palmer, Varuna’s irreplaceable archivist and librarian, for this bit of history).
Autumn at Varuna has certainly lived up to Keats’ ‘Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness’ and it’s good to see the garden recovering from those blistering days we endured at the beginning of the year. While the apples have ripened on the trees, activity inside the hut has also been bearing fruit. I have thoroughly enjoyed the unforeseen experience of putting together this year’s Varuna Sydney Writers Festival program. Within a tight deadline I’ve tried to combine popular themes from past festivals with some new ideas. For the first time, we will feature a couple of sessions with authors who have the important task of writing for young Australians. We have also invited two award-winning young Indigenous writers to stay with us for the entire event so that they can both present their own work and get to know our community of writers.
To help with the complex production of the festival we have kidnapped Anita Kazis from Blue Mountains Council for a couple of months and she is proving to be a human dynamo. We only wish we could keep her here.
While Anita and I have been focussing on the immediate months ahead, our Executive Director Veechi is planning for Varuna’s future. Her desk has been covered with plans, blueprints and artists’ impressions of new buildings to extend Varuna’s facilities. We envision a new office to replace our hut, a reading room where writers can gather to talk about their work, together with a separate studio that is wheelchair-accessible. Great care will be taken to ensure that the new buildings blend in gracefully with Eleanor and Eric Dark’s heritage home.
To end as I began, with the weather, our thoughts and commiserations go out to any of our alumni who have suffered in the recent storms and floods.
Acting Creative Director