Feed your mind at the Goulburn Reader Writer Festival

Molly McLaughlin

Goulburn may be more well known for The Big Merino than its burgeoning literary scene, but the second Goulburn Reader Writer Festival is aiming to change that.

In 2018, the festival will focus on food and food writing, bringing together special guests like celebrity chef Ben O’Donoghue, author Hazel Edwards and Ready Steady Cook star Janelle Bloom for a huge day of events on 24 March.

Erin Williams, Library Manager at the Goulburn Mulwaree Library, has been one of the driving forces behind the festival.

“The first one was in 2016,” she explains, “And it had been a long-held dream of the staff at the library to get it off the ground. We decided after the success of that one to have it every second year. We’re really thrilled with the guests we have coming this year, we have some quite high-profile people coming to little old Goulburn!”

Held in and around the Goulburn Mulwaree Library at the Council Civic Centre, the full program includes author talks, book signings, workshops, demonstrations and live performances. The Vegetable Plot kids band will perform twice during the day, and kids will also enjoy story time with Hazel Edwards, author of children’s classic There’s a Hippopotamus on our Roof Eating Cake. Literary-themed mocktail and cocktail demonstrations will keep the adults entertained, along with a market with stalls from local food producers and authors and the anticipated return of the Aussie Night Markets food trucks to Goulburn.

“The inspiration for this year’s theme ‘Feed Your Mind’ was really to incorporate the Aussie Night Markets into the event,” Erin says. “They’ve been to Goulburn a couple of times, and they have amazing food. Of course, we also know that our cookbooks and our cooking magazines in the library are really popular and always on loan, so we wanted to tap into that.”

For those interested in the ins and outs of the food and writing industries, workshops on publishing, bookbinding and food blogging will provide a valuable insight. John Newton, author of The Oldest Foods on Earth: The Story of Australian Native Produce, will also hold a writing workshop for teens and adults. As Erin explains, the festival will incorporate all aspects of reading, writing, cooking and eating.

“Ben O’Donoghue is flying down from Queensland especially for the festival, and we’re going to put a BBQ outside and do some of his signature cooking demonstrations. Janelle Bloom is doing a wonderful workshop for teenagers and young adults who are interested in careers in the hospitality industry. It will be an exclusive chance for them to get one-on-one attention from a professional, which is really great.”

The library, with the assistance of a grant from the NSW Government, has worked hard to put together a program with something for everyone. For Erin, the festival is an opportunity to bring the community together and put Goulburn on the map.

“I’m so excited to have people who might never have been to the library before, or might not think of bothering to come down. Even if it’s just to come to the markets or to a demonstration it will be so great, because the library can open up a whole new world.”

the essentials 

What: The Goulburn Reader Writer Festival
When: From 10 am on 24 March, and you can find
Where: The Goulburn Mulwaree Library, 184/194 Bourke St, Goulburn
More information and the full program: See the Goulburn Mulwaree Library website. Some events require booking, so make sure to check in advance.


Molly McLaughlin

Molly McLaughlin is new to Canberra and is attempting to prove to her friends that the capital city can be cool. This mostly involves frequently going out for brunch and then posting about it on social media, along with trekking up hills and around art galleries. She is half way through her uni degree but spends most of her time reading, writing and planning her next adventure. More about the Author

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