2 April 2024

Riverina readers and scribes invited to get up close and personal with some of Australia's best writers

| Chris Roe
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Festival organiser Lynette Ainsworth with authors Chris Hammer, Hayley Scrivenor, Margaret Hickey and Karen Viggers.

Festival organiser Lynette Ainsworth (centre) with authors Chris Hammer, Hayley Scrivenor, Margaret Hickey and Karen Viggers. Photo: Supplied.

The line-up of internationally renowned authors for the upcoming Writers at the Woolshed in Wagga is impressive.

“It’s a small intimate festival,” explained organiser Lynette Ainsworth.

“I’ve found that the writers love the smaller festivals where they can actually talk with people about their books and really engage with the audience.”

The two-day event will be a chance to talk crime fiction with the likes of Chris Hammer, Hayley Scrivenor and Margaret Hickey, and to hear from Karen Viggers, Michael Thompson, nature writer Inga Simpson and memoir specialist Patti Miller.

“It’s very much a grassroots writers festival and I basically started it because I just like hanging out with people who write and who enjoy books,” Lynette explained.

“I think that’s where a lot of people can go wrong with a writers event; they think it’s only for people who write.

“With Writers at the Woolshed it’s for people who read and love books.”

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The Wagga festival will be Lynette’s second after kicking off at the Bibbaringa cattle station at Bowna, east of Albury.

“In 2019 I was staying there with a group of writers and the woman who owned the property, Gillian Sanbrook, runs an art group called Earth Canvas.

“She had just redone the old woodshed so that she could run art events there.

“I said to her, ‘This place is crying out for a writers festival’ – so 20 minutes later, over a cup of tea, we launched a writers festival!”

The first Writers at the Woolshed

The first Writers at the Woolshed was held at the Bibbaringa cattle station at Bowna, east of Albury. Photo: Supplied.

The first festival was scheduled for April 2020 to coincide with Earth Canvas, but of course, the global pandemic intervened and it was not until March 2021 that it finally went ahead.

“Two of our writers, Karen Viggers, and Patty Miller, who were both at my first festival at Bowna really loved it and said, ‘How about we do this again?’ So here we are in Wagga for number two.”

The two-day festival kicks off in Wagga on 20 April at the CSU Playhouse with ‘Writers in Conversation’.

“Marg Hickey is a crime writer and she’ll be interviewing a number of writers about their books and we’ll actually have a crime writers panel as part of that,” Lynette said.

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On the Saturday night, festivalgoers will be treated to a paddock to plate dinner showcasing local produce and wine at Cottontail Winery.

As well as mingling with the authors, guests will be entertained by renowned artist and speaker, David Thomas.

“David was the head of art in Milan in Italy and he painted all the portraits for the Bradman Museum in Bowral, so he’s going to paint a portrait for us in an hour over dinner and then at the end of the night, we’ll be auctioning that for charity.”

Supporting worthy causes and local business is also an important part of the philosophy behind Writers at the Woolshed.

“I don’t like people who go into the regions, extract a lot of money and take it away to make a profit for themselves,” Lynette explained.

“We’ve got the CWA doing the catering, we’re working with the winery and the money raised goes to Dolly’s Dream who work in the regions against cyber bullying and youth suicide, so it’s important to me that the money stays in the regions.”

The festival has been financially backed by Wagga Wagga City Council and Eastern Riverina Arts and Lynette urged interested locals to get a group together and book as soon as possible.

You can find out more and lock in your ticket on the Writers at the Woolshed homepage.

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