Cartier Masthead Final Weeks

Five things not to miss at the Canberra Writers Festival

Emily Allen

Beginning this Friday and running through the weekend (26 – 28 August), the inaugural Canberra Writers Festival takes over our nation’s capital with an exciting, chock-full program.

Held across some of the city’s most beautiful and atmospheric venues – National Museum of Australia, Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House, National Portrait Gallery, National Library of Australia, National Press Club, Hotel Realm and the Australian National University, the Festival will showcase local, national and international writers in a series of workshops, panel sessions, keynote addresses, literary lunches and dinners.

Steve Lewis, author and journalist, has explored the viability of a large-scale writers festival in Canberra.

“Steve began researching and connecting all the various parties with the goal of establishing Canberra’s very own Writers Festival,” explains Vickii Cotter, Event Director.

“He contacted Melbourne Writers Festival Director Lisa Dempster, who lent her support, and through the support of the Foundation Partners (The Australian National University, Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House, National Museum of Australia, National Portrait Gallery, Canberra Convention Bureau and Newgate Communications) and with the assistance of Robyn Hendry, former Canberra Business Chamber CEO, the Foundation Partners started to work to bring the idea to fruition.”

“Bringing more parties to the table (The ACT Government, The National Library of Australia, National Press Club of Australia, John Hindmarsh, Doma Hotels, ActewAGL, Swisse Wellness and Screencraft) was what was needed to get the Festival off the ground, and once accomplished the Board of the Canberra Writers Festival was formed. Festival Director, Vickii Cotter, was appointed in mid-December 2015 and from then on the Festival production has been in full swing.”


High Tea with Sarah Wilson

Sarah Wilson grew up in Canberra and has gone truly global as a New York Times best-selling author and entrepreneur. After 20 years as a journalist including as editor of Cosmopolitan magazine, Sarah started spreading the word on wellness, minimalism, philosophy and toxin-free living. Sarah will be in conversation with HerCanberra’s own Amanda Whitley. 

She’s the author of the international best-selling I Quit Sugar series, with her 8-Week Program resulting in more than 1.2 million people quitting sugar worldwide. Her books are sold in 46 countries and she once grabbed global headlines by entering the Guinness Book of Records for staging the world’s biggest bikini shoot at Bondi Beach.

High Tea with Sarah Wilson will provide a smorgasbord of insights into Sarah’s stellar career, tips on healthy living, wellness, minimalism and thrift and how to make life better!

Sunday 28 August from 2.30pm – 4.30pm at the Hotel Realm, North Courtyard. Tickets: Adult: $78 Concession/Students: $75 Child: $70

The Lesser Bohemians with Eimear McBride

What happens when an 18-year-old Irish drama student, newly arrived in London, falls for an older actor? The answer lies in Bailey’s Prize winner Eimear McBride’s The Lesser Bohemians – the long awaited follow-up to her mind-blowing debut, A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing.

Sunday 28th August from 12.30pm – 1.30pm at the Library Theatre, National Library of Australia. Tickets: Adult: $18 Concession/Students: $15 Child: $10

The Dressmaker – From Book to Screen With Rosalie Ham & Sue Maslin

Screencraft are bringing you the chance to hear all about the transition from award winning novel to hugely successful Hollywood film The Dressmaker from the Author, Rosalie Ham and Film Producer, Sue Maslin! This session will explore what goes into creating a film adaption of an already brilliant novel and how Rosalie Ham ensured the film stayed true to the novel.

This session will include an exclusive screening of The Dressmaker with Rosalie Ham and Sue Maslin, brought to you by Screencraft.

Saturday 27 August from 2:30pm – 6pm at the Visions Theatre, National Museum of Australia. Tickets: Adult: $18 Concession/Students: $15 Child: $10

Generation Less: Sounding the Alarm

With an ageing population and widespread political disengagement, this session will put the spotlight on the frustrations and aspirations of young Australians as witnessed and described by two lively literary contributors.

Jennifer Rayner has grown up in an age of growth and growing inequality with a career as a Federal political adviser, international youth ambassador and private sector consultant. Her book Generation Less investigates the life prospects of young Australians through their emotional life, access to credit, education and fulfilling jobs, and considers whether they will ever be able to buy a house.

Omar Musa is an award-winning author, poet and rapper from Queanbeyan whose 2014 debut novelHere Come the Dogs was described by the Los Angeles Times as a “rousing and searing excavation of the pain of those who struggle to remain part of a ruthless equation that has been determined by others.”  Will the rising power of our young people be short-circuited by institutional inertia or resistance from creaking power structures? Find out more at this compelling Festival session.

Sunday 28 August from 3.30pm – 4.30pm at the Library Theatre, National Library of Australia. Tickets: Adult: $18 Concession: $15 Child: $10

Morning Tea with Rosalie Ham and Marion Halligan

Join Rosalie Ham and Marion Halligan for an intimate morning tea at the award winning Hotel Realm. Hosted by Canberra author Karen Viggers.

Saturday 27 August from 10,30am – 11.30am at the Hotel Realm – North Courtyard. Tickets: Adult: $45 Concession/Student: $42 Child: $40


the essentials

What: Canberra Writers Festival
When: Friday 26 August – Sun 28 August
Where: Various locations
Tickets (including free events):

You can purchase tickets to any of the above events here.


The Morning Tea with Rosalie Ham and Marion Halligan, hosted by Karren Vigger, is set to be one of the highlights of the Festival and is being held on Saturday 27 August from 10.30-11.30am in the North Courtyard of the Hotel Realm.

We’re offering Her Canberra readers one of two double passes for this event! Simply email [email protected] with why you’d like to attend by COB Thursday 5 August.

Entries close 5pm Thursday 25 August. Winners will be notified by email by 12pm Friday 26 August. 



Emily Allen

Emily is an arts administrator with a background in writing and music. By day, she works at the ANU School of Music, and by night she moonlights as a contributing writer, the Communications Coordinator and Secretary for MusicACT, and dabbles in freelance marketing, social media and communications for the arts. More about the Author