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Inspiring conversations the only agenda for Unconference Canberra

Natassja Hoogstad Hay

Conferences can be an inspiration, a learning experience and a wonderful opportunity to meet like-minded people. The format however, is usually predictable.

Ready to try something different? How about an “unconference” that turns the idea of a conference on its head? Enter Unconference Canberra. Although the name is new, this is the eighth year for this event, previously known as BarCamp Canberra.

What’s an Unconference, you ask? It is similar to a conference in that people get together to learn and network. But it’s completely different from a conference in the entire agenda is decided on the day. Anyone can nominate themselves to give a presentation or a workshop for up to 20 minutes on any subject.


“The idea is that it’s a space that people can come along to, and decide on the day if they want to speak,” explains UnOrganiser Craig Thomler. “We create the conference experience from the ground up.”

Although the format has its roots in Silicon Valley, it’s not all about tech and startups. “It’s really a place for people to have conversations that they wouldn’t normally have the opportunity to have, and meet people they wouldn’t normally meet,” says Craig.


The event is free and open to people of all ages, backgrounds and disciplines. Topics are expected to range from science and technology to social innovation, art and design.

Some of the more memorable presentations for Craig have included his daughter reciting a poem on the impact of warfare on children; a 10 year old speaking on Minecraft and education; where the line is between robots and humans, and a talk on typography.


While all are welcome to lead a presentation or workshop, it’s not compulsory! So don’t be put off if public speaking isn’t your thing. If you have a passion you’d like to share, it’s a great space to take the leap. Otherwise, the only requirement is to be an active participant.

What advice does Craig have for first-timers? “Be open to the experience, and don’t come with strict expectations.”

You never know who you’ll meet and what you’ll learn.


the essentials

What: Unconference Canberra
When: Saturday 9 April from 9am to 5pm
Where: Canberra Innovation Network, Level 5, 1 Moore St, Civic
Tickets: Free registration on Eventbrite. Free coffee and lunch provided


Natassja Hoogstad Hay

Natassja Hoogstad Hay is a communications professional working in Canberra. An unashamed foodie, she loves cooking and going out to eat, and has a special love of coffee and wine. She’s obsessed with social media (handy in her field!) and is working on perfecting her Instagram game. In her spare time you might find her at a yoga class, cosied up on the couch with a book or the TV, or outside taking photos of beautiful Canberra sunsets. More about the Author