Varuna & Sydney Writers' Festival - Blue Mountains Program 2014

 

Welcome to the 2014 Varuna & Sydney Writers’ Festival.

First of all, and most importantly, you’ll find the full details of our calendar of events here.

Those of you who have joined us in previous years for Varuna’s unique Blue Mountains branch of the Sydney Writers' Festival will know how delightful it is to be part of. This year's festival, I promise you, will be no less thrilling. So, appropriately enough, thriller writer Tara Moss will get us started by launching Black and Blue, a thrilling new exhibition by local artists and poets inspired by dark mountain stories and legends. It’s a free event so do come along.

There is more storytelling through art with a glorious exhibition at the Blue Mountains Cultural Centre. Stories from the Mountains showcases work by Aboriginal artists connected with the Blue Mountains region. The day’s events include an exhibition opening, a floor talk and a dance performance.

At the Carrington, on Monday and Tuesday, you can indulge yourself in a convivial feast of stories, conversations and ideas.

This year Varuna is particularly proud that three of the writers discussing their work were supported through our own Publishers’ Programs. Two of them, Sally Piper and Annah Faulkner, will be talking to Carol Major about their novels dealing with the functions and dysfunctions of family life. Felicity Castagna is the third of these Varuna alumnae. She and Kirsten Krauth have written extraordinary debut novels dealing with contemporary suburbia. We look forward to their discussion with Irina Dunn about not-so-ordinary suburban life.

The troubled and fascinating history of the indigenous art market will be on the agenda when Adrian Newstead talks about his definitive expose of “the first great art movement of the 21st century".

We’re also looking forward to a not-so-cosy chat about another subject vital to us all, when feminist philosopher, Lynne Segal, and writer Patricia Edgar discuss the psychology and politics of ageing. In the meantime, the seemingly ageless Bob Carr will chat about his time as Australia's Foreign Minister with his old friend (and Varuna board member), Bob Debus.

We are particularly thrilled by our overseas contingent this year. Booker nominated Irish writer, Emma Donoghue will be talking to Kate Fagan about her new book involving true life scandal and murder in San Francisco in the 1870s. On a different note, QI favourite Sandi Toksvig will be having a very polite conversation about her new book on modern manners with Stephen Measday.

Great Australian literature will be at issue when Tegan Bennett Daylight talks to Geordie Williamson and Charlotte Wood about their books, which deal in very different ways with a subject close to all our hearts. Luckily for us, Geordie will be staying on to talk to a giant of the contemporary literary scene, Richard Flanagan, whose new novel about the Thai-Burma railway has received national acclaim.

This year's annual Dr Dark Memorial Lecture is to be given by one of Australia's most important and engaging public intellectuals, Professor Clive Hamilton. If you care about the future you don't want to miss Professor Hamilton's riveting talk on the daunting prospect of geo-engineering as a response to climate change.

We hope you will join us to celebrate the launch of three new books by eminent poets of these Blue Mountains as we bring the programme of talks at the Carrington Hotel to a splendid close. But that's not the end of our festival. For a special treat, Greg Foyster, the author of Changing Gears, will be telling ABC's environment correspondence (and former Varuna board member), Gregg Borschmann about cycling 6500 km (!!!) down the east coast of Australia. And for those brave enough to join us, this will be followed by a glorious (but rather shorter) cycle ride through the mountains from Katoomba to Wentworth Falls.

It's hard to believe that we are squeezing most of these treats into a mere four days and we owe a lot of people a great debt of thanks. This year our major funding partners and supporters are the Sydney Writers Festival, Arts NSW and the Australia Council for the Arts. Our local partners and supporters are, once again, the Carrington Hotel and the Blue Mountains Cultural Centre. Falls Wines continues to provide fine wine and champagne for our opening event. Special thanks to the Copyright Agency for helping us to bring so many new works and new writers to this year's festival and, of course, thanks to our amazing team of volunteers who will be guiding festival-goers in and around the events of these very special four days in May.

See you all there.

Enjoy!

Jansis O’Hanlon
CEO Varuna, the Writers’ House


Quick Links

Authors & Moderators -- Bookings & Tickets -- Venues -- Accommodation


 

Festival Opening Event

 

Download pdf of 2-page program here.

 

 

Friday 16 May

Varuna & Sydney Writers' Festival - Opening Event

@ Blue Mountains Cultural Centre, 30 Parke St Katoomba
 
 
5:30 for
6:00pm to 8:00pm

Festival and Black and Blue exhibition launch

Join us at our free opening event to toast a great festival program and a powerful new exhibition. Tara Moss launches Black and Blue, an exhibition created by local poets and illustrators inspired by dark stories and legends of the Mountains. This will be followed by the launch of the Varuna-Sydney Writers' Festival Program.


This free event is presented in partnership with the Blue Mountains Cultural Centre and with special thanks to our wine sponsor Falls Wines.

 
 
Saturday 17 May
10.00am – 4.00pm

Stories from the Mountains

This exhibition focuses on the power of storytelling through art. The day’s events include an exhibition opening, a floor talk and a dance performance. Stories from the Mountains showcases work by Aboriginal artists connected with the Blue Mountains region.


A Blue Mountains Cultural Centre Exhibition. Presented with Varuna, the National Writers House.


$5 /$3 at the exhibition no bookings.

 
 
Sunday 18 May
3.00 - 5.00pm

Varuna, The National Writers House - A Celebration

@ Varuna, 141 Cascade Street, Katoomba

In 1989 Mick Dark gifted the former family home of writers and social activists Eleanor Dark and Dr Eric Dark to the Australian public, and to future Australian writers. In the 25 years since this wonderful gesture, Varuna has hosted residencies and programs for hundreds of emerging and established writers, fostering the publication of dozens of books and launching promising new careers. You are invited to tour the house and gardens, see performances, and hear the recollections of those who have helped create this literary treasure in Katoomba.

Venue: Varuna, 141 Cascade St, Katoomba

Cost: $40 includes becoming one of the ‘First Forty’ Friends of Varuna.

Tickets available for purchase directly from Varuna website - see below.

 

 

Varuna, the National Writers House

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Festival Main Program

 

 

 

Monday 19 May

Varuna & Sydney Writers' Festival - Blue Mountains Program 2014

@ The Carrington Hotel, Katoomba

Venue: The Carrington Hotel, 15-47 Katoomba St, Katoomba

Cost: All day pass (entry to all sessions): $60 ($50 concession) or

Two Day Pass (entry to all sessions): $90 (no concession)

NB: Single sessions to Monday and Tuesday daytime program $15
(Only available on the day at the door, subject to availability)

 
 
10.00 - 11.10 am

Here and Now: Debut Fiction

Isolation, connection, redemption… Felicity Castagna and Kirsten Krauth talk with Irina Dunn about new suburban realities in their fiction debuts. Castagna introduces us to Michael, finding redemption from a family tragedy by immersing himself in the stories and lives of the people in his Western Sydney neighbourhood – The Incredible Here and Now. While Krauth's just_a_girl is alive with ideas about isolation and connection, and how the internet raises the stakes of teenage rebellion.

 
 
11.40am – 12.40pm

The Dealer is the Devil

Adrian Newstead has produced the definitive exposé of “the first great art movement of the 21st century”. He chats with curator Djon Mundine about a story that ranges all the way from remote Indigenous communities, with their dispossessed populations of tribal elders and troubled youth, to gleaming galleries, high-powered auction houses, and major international art institutions. A humorous and sometimes thrilling lament for a lost world.

 
 
1:30 – 2:30pm

Emma Donoghue - Frog Music

Irish writer Emma Donoghue's fiction traverses unusual relationships and settings. Join her for an intimate and revealing discussion with Kate Fagan about the Booker-nominated novel Room – in which a 5-year old boy lives in a single room with his Ma and has never been outside – and Emma's new book Frog Music, based on the real-life murder of a convention-flouting woman in 1870's San Francisco. This will be a session to savour.

 
 
3:00 – 4:00pm

Beyond Ageism

Do numbers and years really define us? Irina Dunn talks to two authors whose books celebrate energy and creativity beyond the stereotypes. In Out of Time, leading feminist writer and thinker Lynne Segal delivers a damning critique of the psychology and politics of ageing; and in Patricia Edgar's In Praise of Ageing we meet eight people in their 90's and beyond who will inspire, entertain and motivate you.

 
 
4:30 – 5:30pm

Bob Carr: Diary of a Foreign Minister

The longest serving Premier of New South Wales recently experienced a new career as Minister for Foreign Affairs in the Commonwealth Labour government. The former state minister Bob Debus interviews Bob Carr about the ups and downs of political life.

 

 

 

Monday 19 May

The 2014 Dr Dark Memorial Lecture - special event

@ The Carrington Hotel, Katoomba


Cost: Dr Dark Memorial Lecture $15/$10

Please note: this event is ticketed separately to the day program

 
 
6.00 – 7.00 pm

The 2014 Dr Dark Memorial Lecture - Clive Hamilton - How do we adapt to a new climatic epoch?

 

Clive Hamilton talks about how scientists believe we have entered a new geological epoch, where human activity has become a powerful force of nature – a shift on a par with the emergence of civilisation. Can we overcome our national, political and cultural differences to adapt to the climatic changes that are coming? Or is there a chance we can use technology (such as geoengineering) to take control of the planet? A fascinating lecture from one of our leading commentators that you won’t want to miss.


Varuna, The National Writers House, was once the home of Australian writers Dr Eric Dark and Eleanor Dark. Dr Eric Dark (1889-1987) was a First World War hero, medical practitioner, medical writer, early environmentalist and rock climber, and one of Australia’s leading advocates for improving social, economic and environmental conditions to build the “health of the nation”. In 1989 their son Mick Dark gifted Varuna to the Eleanor Dark Foundation. The Dr Eric Dark Memorial lecture honors the vision and legacy of Dr Eric Dark and the generosity of the Dark family.


Please note: this event is ticketed separately.

 

 

Tuesday 20 May

Varuna & Sydney Writers' Festival - Blue Mountains Program 2014

@ The Carrington Hotel, Katoomba

Venue: The Carrington Hotel, 15-47 Katoomba St, Katoomba

Cost: All day pass (entry to all sessions): $60 ($50 concession) or

Two Day Pass (entry to all sessions): $90 (no concession)

NB: Single sessions to Monday and Tuesday daytime program $15
(Only available on the day at the door, subject to availability)

 
 
10:00 - 11:00am

New Fiction - Surprising Families

Carol Major talks with Sally Piper and Annah Faulkner about the dynamic families at the centre of their novels. Piper’s Grace’s Table is a moving and often funny novel about memory and the family rituals that define us. In The Beloved, Faulkner weaves a captivating story of mothers and daughters and the importance of following your dream, set against the lush backdrop of Port Moresby in the 50's.

 
 
11:30am - 12:30pm

Black and Blue Panel

The Black and Blue exhibition features notable local artists and poets creating new work inspired by dark mountain stories and legends. Join six of the illustrators and poets as they talk with Ron Pretty about the process of creating their work. Then stroll over for a special buffet lunch and entry into the exhibition at the Blue Mountains Cultural Centre, where you can chat with the poets and illustrators about the stories behind their work.

 
 
12:30 - 1:30pm

Lunch & Entry to the Exhibition

@ Blue Mountains Cultural Centre, 30 Parke St Katoomba

Cost: $20

 
 
1:30 - 2:30pm

Sandi Toksvig - Peas and Queues

In a session that promises to be a highlight, Sandi Toksvig goes head to head with Stephen Measday to discuss some of the crucial questions of our times: How do you get rid of unwanted guests? How should you eat peas, and behave in queues? Sandi is a Danish/British writer, presenter, comedian, actress and producer on British radio and television, known for her guest appearances on shows such as QI and What the Dickens. In Peas and Queues she interrogates the history and relevance of modern manners - with hilarious results.

 
 
3:00 - 4:00pm

Richard Flanagan - The Narrow Road to the Deep North

Richard Flanagan talks to The Australian’s Geordie Williamson about his acclaimed new novel of the cruelty of war, the tenuous nature of life and love. ‘It's been such a strong year for literature, especially Australian fiction, that naming a book of the year is difficult. But I will go for Richard Flanagan's Thai-Burma Railway novel…’ Stephen Romei, The Australian

 
 
4:30 - 5:30pm

Restoration and Renewal of Australian Writing

In an era where books can seem disposable, two authors have been working to establish Australian literature’s place in our culture. Geordie Williamson's The Burning Library showed us how neglected some of our greatest literature is, and works to restore those books; and Charlotte Wood's digital magazine The Writer's Room features interviews with contemporary Australian writers. They join Tegan Bennett Daylight for a conversation about books, writers, and the Australian way of reading. A vital conversation by three passionate writers intent on honouring Australian literature's past, present and future.

 
 
6:00 - 7:00pm

New Poetry Launch - Free Event

@ The Carrington Ballroom

Join us to toast another successful program at the Carrington with the launch and readings from three new collections by eminent Blue Mountains poets. David Brooks launches The Searchers by Roberta Lowing, David Musgrave launches (B) by John Watson, and Mark O’Flynn launches Detroit by Philip Hammial.

 
 

Sunday 25 May

Changing Gears

@ Blue Mountains Cultural Centre, 30 Parke St Katoomba
 
 
10:00am - 1:00pm*

Have you ever wanted to downshift to fewer hours and a simpler, more fulfilling lifestyle? This is what Greg Foyster, the author of Changing Gears, did. Hear about his amazing 6500km pedal-powered detour from the rat race along the east coast of Australia. Join him in a revealing talk with the ABC’s Gregg Borschmann, then take off on an entertaining two-hour cycle tour of the Mountains, from Katoomba to Wentworth Falls.

*One hour discussion followed by an optional two hour ride around the Blue Mountains with Greg Foyster and Bicycle NSW.

 
 
 


 

Bookings & Ticketing

 

Tickets

The following event tickets are available via Gleebooks website until 5pm Friday 16 May* - click on links below:

Main Program

Monday All-day pass or Tuesday All-day pass*: Monday, 19 May or - Tuesday, 20 May $60 full / $50 concession.
*(This does not include entry to the Dr Dark Memorial Lecture)

Two-day pass*: Monday & Tuesday - $90 (no concession).
*(This does not include entry to the Dr Dark Memorial Lecture)

NB: Single sessions to Monday & Tuesday main daytime program: $15
(Single Session tickets only available for purchase at the door on the day, subject to availability - to avoid disappoint, please book day pass or two-day pass.)

*Please Note: Purchasing tickets online or by phone will close at 5pm on Friday 16 May.
A limited number of day and 2-day tickets will be available to purchase on Monday 19th and Tuesday 20 May - subject to availability - at the venue, The Carrington Hotel, Katoomba from 8:45 am. Single session tickets will also be available to purchase for $15, subject to availability.

Special Events

Opening Festival Event: Friday, 16 May - free event.

The following event ticket is available from the Varuna website:
Varuna, The National Writers House – A Celebration: Sunday 18 May - $40 includes becoming one of the ‘First Forty’ Friends of Varuna.

The following event online tickets are available via Gleebooks website - click on links below:
Dr Dark Memorial Lecture: Monday 19 May: $15 full / $10 concession
This event is ticketed separately and is not included in the all-day or two-day pass.

Black and Blue Exhibition: Tuesday 20 May: Lunch and entry to the exhibition 12:30 – 1:30pm, $20.

Changing Gears: Sunday 25 May: $15 for seminar only or $30 for seminar and guided cycle tour.

You can book in person, or on the phone, at Gleebooks, Glebe (02-9660 2333) and Blackheath (02-4787 6340) branches,
or book online with a Mastercard or Visa at the Gleebooks' website.

 


 

Venues

Main Program

The Carrington Hotel

The program for Monday and Tuesday (19 and 20 May) will be held at The Carrington Hotel.

 

Getting there: the Carrington Hotel is at 15-47 Katoomba Street and is a 5-minute walk from Katoomba railway station.

Ph: (02) 4782 1111
Web: www.thecarrington.com.au

If you are coming from Sydney, Katoomba is a relaxing 2-hour train ride from Central Station. For timetables phone 131500
or visit http://www.transportnsw.info/.

Note: please check all times with rail provider before travelling in case of unforeseen variations.

If you are driving please allow approx 1.5 hours to drive from Sydney and allow extra time to find parking and walk to the venue, as there is very limited parking available at the Carrington.

Special Events

The Blue Mountains Cultural Centre

The program for Friday, May 16 and Saturday, May 17 will be held at The Blue Mountains Cultural Centre.

Address: 30 Parke Street, Katoomba.
Ph: (02) 4780 5410.
Web: bluemountainsculturalcentre.com.au

Getting there: The Blue Mountains Cultural Centre is a 5-minute walk from Katoomba railway station.

If you are coming from Sydney, Katoomba is a relaxing 2-hour train ride from Central Station. For timetables phone 131500
or visit http://www.transportnsw.info/.

Note: please check all times with rail provider before travelling in case of unforeseen variations.

There is parking available within the Cultural Centre building that is accessible from Parke Street.

 

Varuna The Writers House

The Varuna, The National Writers House – A Celebration event will be held on Sunday, May 18 at Varuna The Writers House from 3.00 - 5.00pm.

Address: 141 Cascade Street, Katoomba.
Ph: 02 4782 5674.
Web: Getting to Varuna

 

Accommodation

Accommodation can be booked at the Carrington Hotel at a discounted rate for festival patrons. Book early to avoid disappointment.
Click here to download the Carrington Accommodation Booking Form.
Ph: (02) 4782 1111
Web: Carrington Hotel website.

Alternatively, local accommodation can be found through Blue Mountains Tourism or by phoning the Blue Mountains Accommodation free booking service on (02) 4782 2857.

 

Quick Links

Authors & Moderators -- Bookings & Tickets -- Venues -- Accommodation