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Byron Bay News

Byron Writers Festival



Byron Writers Festival (26 — 28 August 2022) reveals full program. All tickets now on sale.

Australia’s largest regional writers festival returns with the theme of “Radical Hope”

 Featuring more than 140 writers, thinkers and commentators including Trent Dalton, Hannah Kent, Ben Quilty, Indira Naidoo, Bruce Pascoe, Robert Drewe, Masha Gessen, Evelyn Araluen, Damon Gameau, Steve Toltz, Charlotte Wood, Julia Baird, Aaron Fa’Aoso, Costa Georgiadis, A.C. Grayling, Bronwyn Bancroft, Emily Bitto, Nikki Gemmell, Bryan Brown, Marcia Langton and many more.


Byron Writers Festival 2022 (26-28 August) has revealed an inspiring program of celebrated authors as well as powerful new voices to mark its welcome return after a two-year hiatus. Themed ‘Radical Hope’, Byron Writers Festival 2022 will feature more than 140 writers and thinkers gathering together at the Festival’s beautiful new site at North Byron Parklands on Bundjalung country. The festival also offers writers’ workshops, an engaging program for children and several feature and satellite events in venues across the Northern Rivers region.


In curating the program, incoming Artistic Director Zoë Pollock reflected on the theme of ‘Radical Hope’ in the wake of fires, pandemic and floods.

Radical hope imagines a future goodness that transcends our current reality. It is a provocation to seek and create a new world in the face of incredibly challenging circumstances. Radical hope is a denial and refusal of cultural destruction and a determination to build a new culture for a changed environment.”

“At this year’s festival you will hear from social and environmental experts on how we can tackle the challenge that is climate change. You will be uplifted by listening to our most gifted storytellers explaining how they celebrate the human condition and render our experiences so magnificently on the page. You will meet talented emerging and established writers who are challenging the status quo. In hearing and engaging with these ideas you are playing your part in making the world anew and I am very much looking forward to welcoming you.”

International and bestselling authors to headline packed program

International guests include revered British philosopher A.C. Grayling and Russian-American journalist, author and activist Masha Gessen whose 11 books include The Man Without A Face: The Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin. The Festival also welcomes novelist Becky Manawatu from Aotearoa whose bestselling multi-award-winning novel Auē introduces a compelling new voice in New Zealand fiction and talented Zimbabwean spoken word poet Thando Sibanda.

Trent Dalton, Hannah Kent and Nigel Featherstone will share love stories. Charlotte Wood, Nikki Gemmell and Micheline Lee will reveal how writing has helped them to survive. Fiction lovers will be delighted by in-depth conversations with Emily Bitto, Robert Drewe, Arnold Zable, Chloe Hooper, Kathryn Heyman, Steve Toltz and Christos Tsiolkas who will both feature in conversation with Jennifer Byrne.

Actor and director Aaron Fa’Aoso (Black Comedy) invites audiences into his life of connection, loss, laughter and the Torres Strait as beautifully captured in his forthcoming memoir So Far, So Good. Iconic Australian actor and debut crime writer Bryan Brown will share stories of his illustrious career spanning more than 80 films.

Julia Baird will sit down with Indira Naidoo to discuss wonder, grief and the power of nature in an uplifting conversation on how to deal with life’s hardest moments. Gardening Australia’s beloved Costa Georgiadis will get his hands dirty with farmer and chef Matthew Evans in an enlightening discussion about soil and the systems that sustain us. Archibald winning artist Ben Quilty will discuss radical art with Wondunna artist and writer Fiona Foley.

First Nations voices, healing, recovery and resilience

The annual Thea Astley Address will be delivered by Professor Judy Atkinson whose ground-breaking book Trauma Trails, Recreating Song Lines: The Transgenerational Effects of Trauma in Indigenous Australia offered a pathway to healing through the listening and telling of stories. Three ground-breaking critical thinkers, Professor Marcia Langton AO, Chelsea Watego and Veronica Gorrie discuss the importance of Indigenous intellectual sovereignty.

Climate change will be front and centre of the discussions at this year’s festival, with a particular focus on the green future we need to build. The need for First Nations knowledge in the face of climate change is highlighted in numerous sessions including ‘Learning From Country’ with Bruce Pascoe, Gamilaraay astronomer Karli Noon and local Bundjalung woman Leweena Williams. Kerry O’Brien will interview inventor and scientist Saul Griffith (The Big Switch) about the bold solution that could help the planet thrive again. Future leaders Mia Thom and Jean Hinchcliffe will outline their vision for our nation. Former fire commissioner Greg Mullins, Lismore councillor Elly Bird and journalist Bronwyn Adcock have all lived through recent Australian disasters and will discuss what is needed to better prepare, recover and rebuild after catastrophic events.

Politics and cultural commentary

Barrie Cassidy will host the inaugural Mungo Panel named in honour of legendary journalist and long-time Byron Writers Festival stalwart, the late Mungo McCallum. Joining the Mungo panel will be Kerry O’Brien, Karen Middleton and Margaret Simons to ask ‘Has the Media Lost Its Mojo?’ Just some of the other award-winning journalists and authors to join the Festival this year include Kate McClymont, Matthew Condon, Van Badham, Christine Jackman, Marian Wilkinson, David Leser, Jess Hill, Julianne Schultz, and Jeff Sparrow.

Northern Rivers Writers

 The Northern Rivers is fertile ground for creatives and more than 30 local writers, artists, thinkers and commentators are featured at Byron Writers Festival this year including Rob Drewe with his new novel Nimblefoot, Jessie Cole (Desire), Bronwyn and Ella Bancroft (Sun and Moon), Emily Brugman (The Islands), Joelle Gergis (Humanity’s Moment: A Climate Scientist’s Case for Hope), Damon Gameau (2040), Dylin Hardcastle (Below Deck), Tristan Bancks (Cop and Robber), Sarah Armstrong (Big Magic), Hayley Katzen (Untethered), Bronwyn Birdsall (Time and Tide in Sarajevo) and many more.

3-Day Passes and 1-Day Passes for the festival are available to purchase at

Feature Events

A separately ticketed program of Feature Events in venues throughout the region offer a diverse range of storytelling to inspire and delight. Keynote event ‘Radical Hope’ at Byron Theatre brings together five leading thinkers, A.C. Grayling, Damon Gameau, Anne-Marie Te Whiu, Mia Thom and Thando Sibanda, to consider how we can look unflinchingly at our cultural and environmental situation while finding a new way to imagine our future. Also at Byron Theatre, laughs are guaranteed when Charles Firth (The Chaser) and James Schloeffel (The Shovel) join forces to provide a masterclass in the ancient art of lying from political messaging to corporate deception in ‘Spin’. One of Australia’s most gifted writers Charlotte Wood shares the inner workings of her creative process with Ashley Hay in ‘On Creativity’, over a sumptuous morning tea hosted by Crystalbrook Byron.

The festival is proud to present a series of extraordinary events that focus on First Nations voices at Brunswick Picture House, including ‘Bundjalung Nghari – Indigenise’, featuring four Bundjalung stories written by Steven Oliver (Black Comedy), Daniel Browning, Kylie Caldwell and Ella Noah Bancroft, presented in partnership with theatre company NORPA and curated by Rhoda Roberts. The festival has also partnered with Blak & Bright curator Jane Harrison to present ‘The Bogong’, a Blak version of The Moth, featuring award-winning poet Evelyn Araluen amongst six brilliant First Nations authors in spoken word form and ‘Borrow A Living Book’ which gives you with the opportunity to meet a local Bundjalung elder for a cup of tea and a chat.

For all tickets to Feature Events please visit

Kids Big Day Out

The kids get a whole marquee to themselves at the festival on Sunday morning to meet and be entertained by their favourite authors and illustrators and to discover new favourites in the hugely popular Kids Big Day Out program, featuring Bronwyn and Ella Bancroft (Sun and Moon), Kate Foster (The Bravest Word), Corey Tutt (CNCA shortlisted The First Scientists: Deadly Inventions and Innovations from Australia’s First Peoples), Isobelle Carmody (Kingdom of the Lost series), Sarah Armstrong (Big Magic) and Tristan Bancks (Cop and Robber).

Find out more at

Festival Site

The new festival site is located at North Byron Parklands, 126 Tweed Valley Way, Yelgun (approx 20min drive north of Byron Bay). On-site car parking will be adjacent to the festival and within easy walking distance of where the action takes place. A free shuttle service will run between Byron Bay CBD, Elements of Byron, and the festival site. The shuttle bus will drop passengers off close to the festival entrance gates.

Held on the lands of the Arakwal Bumberbin and Minjungbal peoples of the Bundjalung Nation, we pay respect to the traditional owners of these lands and acknowledge them as the original storytellers of this region.

About Byron Writers Festival

The annual Byron Writers Festival is Australia’s largest and leading regional celebration of storytelling, literature and ideas. The festival line-up features more than 140 predominantly Australian writers and thinkers who together challenge, entertain and share their stories, inspirations and insights. Byron Writers Festival is renowned for its relaxed atmosphere and for delivering a diverse program of stimulating and entertaining conversations that celebrate storytelling in all its forms.


Byron Writers Festival 2022

Festival Dates: 26 — 28 August 2022

All tickets now on sale!


Nicole Abadee, Bronwyn Adcock, Alex Adsett, Megan Albany, Akuch Kuol Anyieth, Evelyn Araluen, Sarah Armstrong, Judy Atkinson, Sunil Badami, Van Badham, Julia Baird, Tim Baker, Tristan Bancks, Bronwyn Bancroft, Ella Noah Bancroft, Paul Barclay, Nidala Barker, Jonathan Biggins, Elly Bird, Bronwyn Birdsall, Jemma Birrell, Emily Bitto, James Bradley, Bryan Brown, Phil Brown, Daniel Browning, Emily Brugman, Tim Burrowes, Jennifer Byrne, Kylie Caldwell, Paul Callaghan, Isobelle Carmody, Jane Caro, Barrie Cassidy, Gabrielle Chan, Jo Chandler, Anna Clark, Alan Close, Jessie Cole, Matthew Condon, Ed Coper, Trent Dalton, Robert Drewe, Jill Eddington, Sara El Sayed, Russell Eldridge, Matthew Evans, Aaron Fa’Aoso, Huda Fadlelmawla, Delia Falconer, Nigel Featherstone, Charles Firth, Fiona Foley, Kate Foster, Declan Fry, Antony Funnell, Damon Gameau, Mawunyo Gbogbo, Nikki Gemmell, Costa Georgiadis, Joëlle Gergis, Masha Gessen, Veronica Gorrie, Meg  Grace, A.C. Grayling, Saul Griffith, David Hallett, Chris Hanley, Dylin Hardcastle, Lynda Hawryluk, Ashley Hay, Amani Haydar, Kathryn Heyman, Jess Hill, Jean Hinchliffe, Sarah Holland-Batt, Tim Hollo, Chloe Hooper, Jackie Huggins, Mark Isaacs, Christine Jackman, Zacharey Jane, Erik Jensen, Yumna Kassab, Hayley Katzen, Hannah Kent, Krissy Kneen, Natalie Kon-yu, Will Kostakis, Marcia Langton, Joy Lawn, Cheryl Leavy, Debbie Lee, Micheline Lee, David Leser, Louisa Lim, Eleanor Limprecht, Gary Lonesborough, Zanni Louise, Grace Lucas-Pennington, Becky Manawatu, Wendy McCarthy, Kate McClymont, Phillipa McGuinness, Laura Jean McKay, Mark McKenna, Miles Merrill, Karen Middleton, Anika Molesworth, Greg Mullins, Fiona Murphy, Indira Naidoo, Krystal De Napoli, Anne Maria Nicholson, Mandy Nolan, Karlie Noon, Kerry O’Brien, Matt Okine, Steven Oliver, Mick O’Regan, Claire O’Rourke, Bruce Pascoe, Rhianna Patrick, Andrew Quilty, Ben Quilty, Yves Rees, Mirandi Riwoe, Rhoda Roberts, David Roland, Gina Rushton, Mykaela Saunders, James Schloeffel, Julianne Schultz, Tricia Shantz, Thando Sibanda, Margaret Simons, Inga Simpson, Jeff Sparrow, Mary Spongberg, Jeanti St Clair, Danny Teece-Johnson, Mia Thom, Steve Toltz, Christos Tsiolkas, Corey Tutt, Adam van Kempen, Mariam Veiszadeh, Chelsea Watego, Anne-Marie Te Whiu, Marian Wilkinson, Leweena Williams, Sarah Wilson, Charlotte Wood, Susan Wyndham, Arnold Zable.








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Byron Bay News

Council monitoring Belongil Creek




Council monitoring Belongil Creek

Byron Shire Council staff are monitoring water levels in Belongil Creek with the entrance to the creek now closed after the recent large seas.
Belongil Creek is an ICOLL, an intermittent closed and open lagoon that opens and closes to the ocean.
Belongil Creek has been flowing into the ocean for approximately 12 months, but the big swell in late July resulted in a build-up of sand across the mouth of the creek and it is now closed.
Council has received calls from people who are concerned about the build-up of water as a result of the creek closing and while Council staff are monitoring the levels, there are no immediate plans to open the creek.
Phil Holloway, Director Infrastructure Services, said there is, understandably, a high level of anxiety in the community about the potential for flooding after the weather event in March this year.
“ICOLLs like Belongil Creek are complex environmental systems and there are strict NSW Government regulations relating to any artificial opening because of the potential impact on fish and other marine creatures,” he said.
“Council only has a licence from the NSW Government to open Belongil Creek for flood mitigation and to do this there are other factors that need to be taken into account such as forecast rain, and ocean conditions,” Mr Holloway said.
“Staff are closely monitoring the situation at Belongil and water levels are stable and there is no case to open the creek artificially.
“We are keeping a close eye on the situation and should the situation change, or if heavy rain is forecast, things will be reassessed,” Mr Holloway said.

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Byron Bay News

Fee Reimbursements and Waivers for Students in 2022 and 2023




Fee Reimbursements and Waivers for Students in 2022 and 2023

If you studied a full qualification under Smart and Skilled with Byron Community College in 2022, or are thinking of enrolling next year, they’ve got some very exciting news to share.

The NSW North Coast Education Flood Recovery Support Package reveals that new levels of financial support are available, amounting to thousands of dollars in fee relief for students. The aim is to alleviate financial pressures on students and their families coping with flood recovery in the region, while also supporting access to and the completion of training.

Providing student support in the adult education sector has always been paramount given the range of challenges that can already exist, including emotional and social pathways to reengage with learning. The 2022 floods brought devastation that created immense upheaval in obtaining life’s basic needs for food and shelter. The natural effect was that all else receded, sending growth, learning and expansion into the background for a time.

The good news is, this has been recognised. As part of the Support Package, Training Services NSW is rolling out the following initiatives:

  1. Fee reimbursements for students enrolled or in training during the flood period – eligible students should have received an email about this.


  1. Fee waivers for new students – all fees for 2023 Smart and Skilled eligible students will be $0 when enrolling next year.

Jack Bennie (pictured) has been studying the AHC30716 – Certificate III in Horticulture at Byron Community College throughout 2022 and will be receiving a full reimbursement of the fees he has paid for this nationally recognised qualification.

For 2022 and 2023 students across the region, this package will amount to thousands of dollars in fee relief. So, if you’re excited by the opportunity of new horizons, get in touch with Byron Community College today to find out more and check your eligibility – or call 02 6684 3374.

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Byron Bay News

Award nominations roll in for Byron bus interchange




Award nominations roll in for Byron bus interchange

Byron Bay’s centrally located bus interchange has won a string of prestigious awards in recent months and this week received a nomination for the Premier’s “Putting Citizens at the Centre” award.

“This precinct was the first to roll out from the Byron Masterplan and delivers significant outcomes in terms of removing heavy traffic from the centre, improving pedestrian and cycleways, creating beautiful new community spaces and celebrating our town’s heritage,” Byron Shire Mayor, Michael Lyon said.

“There is always uncertainty and scepticism when we talk about change in Byron, but we are thrilled that the feedback we’re getting is that these projects have given the community confidence that Council can sensitively and respectfully improve the way the town centre looks and feels, and how it’s used,” Mayor Lyon said.

That was always the aim and we feel like it’s been achieved in this precinct,” Cr Lyon said.

In addition to the Premier’s recent “Putting Citizens at the Centre” award nomination, in June the Byron bus interchange received Australian Institute of Landscape Architecture Awards (AILA) for:

  • NSW Excellence Award in Infrastructure
  • Regional Achievement Award for Northern NSW

The interchange was a partnership project delivered by Transport for NSW and Council as part of the Byron rail precinct upgrades completed in 2021.

The vision was to transform a disused and unsafe area of town into a place where community could gather, that could be accessed safely and easily.

The area had consistently received negative community feedback due to illegal camping, rubbish dumping, community safety and flooding.

The project teams worked together to address these issues while celebrating the site’s rail heritage and link it with significant local Aboriginal heritage.

The old Green Frog jetty engine, which chugged around Byron Bay from 1923 to 1983, has been restored and will be permanently housed on the rail platform, a reminder that long before it was a tourist destination, it was a working-class town with a meatworks, butter factory, whaling station and sand mining operation.

The planning, design and delivery of these projects involved a collaborative process with a broad range of stakeholders including Transport for NSW. Sydney Trains, Heritage NSW, design teams, engineers, local building contractors and the local community through the Byron Masterplan Guidance Group, Byron Historical Society and the local Arakwal people.

“We will soon see the next round of Masterplan projects roll out, with construction of the new skate park at Sandhills beginning in August and the proposal to move the markets to the centre of town later in the year,” Mayor Lyon said.

“We know there’s both excitement and nerves around these next projects too and hope the community will continue to work with us to deal with any issues as they arise and hopefully celebrate a great result at the end,” he said

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