Festival 2024 Lineup

Costa Georgiadis

Costa Georgiadis, the beloved host of the ABC’s Logie and AACTA award winning ‘Gardening Australia,’ is a passionate landscape architect and environmental educator, who has an all‐consuming passion for plants and people.
Since his debut on SBS’s ‘Costa’s Garden Odyssey’ He has been a fixture on Australian TV, expanding in 2023, with the launch of ‘Gardening Australia Junior’ where he shares his love of nature and the joy of gardening for a new generation of gardeners.
His book, Costa’s World: Gardening for the soul, the soil and the suburbs published in 2021 continues to inspire. Young readers can look forward to his foray into the world of children’s books in 2024.

Melissa Lucashenko

Melissa Lucashenko is a multi-award winning Bundjalung writer and a founding member of human rights organisation Sisters Inside. Too Much Lip won the 2019 Miles Franklin Award. Melissa’s most recent novel Edenglassie is set in colonial 1850s Moreton Bay – a time when Aboriginal people still outnumbered the British and other futures were possible.

Ellen van Neerven

Ellen van Neerven is a Mununjali writer. Ellen has authored two poetry collections, Comfort Food and Throat, one work of fiction, Heat and Light, and a hybrid sports memoir called Personal Score.

Mirandi Riwoe

Mirandi Riwoe is the author of Stone Sky Gold Mountain, which won the 2020 Queensland Literary Award – Fiction Book Award and the inaugural ARA Historical Novel Prize, and was shortlisted for the 2021 Stella Prize and longlisted for the 2021 Miles Franklin Literary Award. Her short story collection, The Burnished Sun, includes the novella, The Fish Girl, which won Seizure Viva la Novella and was shortlisted for the Stella Prize. Her latest book is Sunbirds.

Phil Dudman

Phil Dudman is a horticulturist and garden designer with a passion for growing organic food and teaching others how to as well. When he’s not out in his patch, he’s hosting the Good Gardening radio program on ABC North Coast or busy in his role as Horticultural Editor of ABC Organic Gardener magazine. He’s also a regular contributor to ABC Gardening Australia Magazine, an author for ABC Books and, in a previous incarnation, a TV presenter on Channel 9’s Garden Gurus and Prime News.

Jessie Cole

Jessie Cole is the author of four books, two novels and two memoirs. Her work has been shortlisted for the ALS Gold Medal and the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for Non-Fiction. Her latest memoir, Desire, A Reckoning, was released in 2022.

Michael Burge

Journalist and author Michael Burge is based at Deepwater in the NSW New England region. His debut novel Tank Water (MidnightSun Publishing) is a coming-of-age crime novel exploring the taboo subject of homophobia in rural Australia. He has written for Guardian Australia, Fairfax Media and The Journal of Australian Studies.

Tim Baker

Tim Baker is an award-winning journalist and storyteller specialising in surfing history and culture and the best-selling author of numerous books on surfing. His latest book Patting The Shark documents his journey managing a stage 4, prostate cancer diagnosis. Tim wrote Patting The Shark as part of a creative writing PhD scholarship from Griffith University. He is a former editor of Tracks, Surfing Life and Slow Living magazines, and a two-time winner of the Surfing Australia Hall of Fame Culture Award. His work has appeared in Rolling Stone, the Sydney Morning Herald, the Australian Financial Review, the Sunday Age, the Bulletin, Inside Sport, GQ, Text Journal as well as surfing magazines around the world. In July 2015, Tim was diagnosed with metastatic prostate cancer and nine years on remains in good health and spirits, till surfing, writing and travelling.

Corey Tutt

Corey is a Kamilaroi man from Nowra, NSW, and a STEM champion for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. He edits the DeadlyScience Australian Geographic series and has authored two books – the highly awarded The First Scientists, followed by This Book Thinks Ya Deadly. In 2020, Corey was named the NSW Young Australian of the Year and a Human Rights Hero by the Australian Human Rights Commission. In 2021, he received an Australian Museum Eureka Prize and in 2022 a medal of the Order of Australia. He is Adjunct Associate Professor of the School of Science at Western Sydney University.

Duane Hamacher

Duane Hamacher is Associate Professor of Cultural Astronomy in the School of Physics at the University of Melbourne, where he examines humanity’s connection to the stars. He consulted on tourism programs, commemorative coins, and Aboriginal star names. A TEDx speaker, he appeared in films with Warwick Thornton, Werner Herzog, and Morgan Freeman and published the book The First Astronomers with elders.

Daniel Browning

Daniel Browning is an Aboriginal writer, journalist, broadcaster, documentary maker and sound artist. Currently, he is the ABC’s Editor Indigenous Radio overseeing the longstanding flagship programs Awaye! and Speaking Out as well the language revival podcast Word Up. A visual arts graduate, Daniel also presents The Art Show podcast and is widely-published as a freelance writer on the arts and culture. His first book, Close to the Subject: Selected Works won the Indigenous Writing Prize at the 2024 Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards. In 2023 he was the first Laureate to undertake the galang First Nations Residency Program at the Cité internationale des arts in Paris, where he began researching his second book, a narrative history/double biography/memoir in the literary non-fiction genre.

Mykaela Saunders

Mykaela Saunders is a Koori/Goori and Lebanese writer and the editor of THIS ALL COME BACK NOW. Mykaela was awarded the 2022 David Unaipon Award for ALWAYS WILL BE and has won prizes for short fiction, poetry, life writing and research. Mykaela holds the 2023 Macquarie University Fellowship for Indigenous Research.

Angela Catterns

Angela Catterns is a well-known Australian media veteran and broadcaster. Depending on your generation, you may have seen her on Simon Townsend’s Wonder World! or heard her present Mornings on Triple J, the National Evening Show on ABC Local Radio and Breakfast on 702 ABC Sydney, where she went to number one in the ratings. She has presented several podcast series including Business Bites for Northern Rivers Food, Is it Just Me? with Wendy Harmer and Suddenly Senior with Ian Rogerson. Currently, Angela presents Saturday Breakfast on ABC North Coast.

Benjo Kazue

Benjo Kazue is an interdisciplinary artist and intergalactic journalist from the dregs of gonzo rock n’ roll. He fuses creative non-fiction, new journalism, auto-fiction and armchair philosophy with cut-and-paste collage, producing tactile works of beatnik propaganda littered with existential meandering, nihilistic humour and gonzo poetry. He is the editor of psychedelic lit journal CosmicPhallusy, and the organiser of Byron Bay Print Fest & Zine Fair.

Yen-Rong Wong

Yen-Rong Wong is an arts critic and award-winning writer. She won the Glendower Award for an Emerging Queensland Writer in 2022, and the Queensland Premier’s Young Publishers and Writers Award in 2020. Her work has appeared in many print and online publications, including The Guardian, Sydney Review of Books, Meanjin, and Griffith Review. Me, Her, Us is her debut book of non-fiction.

Gary Lonesborough

Gary Lonesborough is a Yuin man, who grew up on the Far South Coast of NSW as part of a large and proud Aboriginal family. Gary was always writing as a child, and continued his creative journey when he moved to Sydney to study at film school. Gary has experience working in youth work, Aboriginal health, child protection, the disability sector (including experience working in the youth justice system) and the film industry, including working on the feature film adaptation of Jasper Jones. His debut YA novel, The Boy from the Mish, was published by Allen & Unwin in 2021. It was published in the US in 2022 under the title Ready When You Are.

Naima Brown

Naima Brown is the author of The Shot (fiction, Pan Macmillan, 2023), How To Age Against the Machine (non-fiction, Hardie Grant, 2023), and the upcoming novel Mother Tongue (PanMacmillan, 2025). Her short fiction has appeared in Popshot Magazine and the Love On The Road anthology. Her essays have appeared in The Guardian Australia, Vogue Australia, and more. In addition to her writing, she is also a documentary (SBS, Channel 7) and podcast producer, having created five Audible Original series. Originally from California, she now calls the Northern Rivers of Australia home, where she lives with her husband and dog.

Nancy Cushing

Nancy Cushing is Associate Professor of History at the University of Newcastle, Australia on beautiful Awabakal and Worimi country. An environmental historian whose interests range from coal mining to human-other animal relations, she was co-editor of Animals Count: How Population Size Matters in Animal-Human Relations (Routledge 2018), co author with Kevin Markwell of Snake-bitten: Eric Worrell and the Australian Reptile Park (UNSW Press 2010) and recently took a slight diversion by writing a book on the history of crime in Australia (A History of Crime in Australia, Australian Underworlds, 2023). Her current project is A New History of Australia in 15 Animals (Bloomsbury). In 2024 and 2025, she is the Coral Thomas Fellow at the State Library of NSW, researching the non-human animals of Sydney. Nancy is on the executives of the Australian Aotearoa NZ Environmental History Network and the Australian Historical Association and a member of the NSW Working Party for the Australian Dictionary of Biography.

Sally Breen

Dr Sally Breen is the author grunge memoir The Casuals and crime novel Atomic City. Her short form work has appeared widely nationally and internationally. Dr Breen is Executive Director of Asia Pacific Writers and Translators and Associate Professor of Creative Writing at Griffith University.

Sarah Temporal

Sarah Temporal is a prize-winning poet, educator and cultural producer. Her debut collection Tight Bindings (Puncher and Wattmann, 2024) explores embodiment and storytelling. Sarah is a winner of the Bunker Slam and Nimbin Poetry World Cup, with work published in Best of Australian Poems and more. She founded Poets Out Loud to empower diverse voices through writing and spoken-word.

Siang Lu

Siang Lu is the author of Ghost Cities and the multi-award-winning The Whitewash, which won Audiobook of the Year at the 2023 ABIAs and the Glendower Award for an emerging writer at the Queensland Literary Awards. He was named one of the Top 40 Under 40 Asian-Australians in 2023.

Grace Lucas – Pennington

Grace is an Bundjalung mentor, editor and writer. She grew up mostly between northern NSW and the greater Logan/ Brisbane area. Grace is the Senior Editor at State Library of Queensland’s black&write! Indigenous Writing and Editing Project, a Board member of Byron Bay Writers Festival, and along with Camha Pham and Radhiah Chowdhury, is a founding member of the First Nations and People of Colour in Publishing Network. She was awarded the 2020 Nakata Brophy prize for poetry.

Melaina Faranda

The author of over fifty books, Melaina Faranda has worked with ten publishers, scores of editors nationally and internationally, and shares invaluable writing and editing skills in ways that swiftly turns each class into an inspired writing tribe! Melaina infuses her teaching with generosity, expertise, enthusiasm, encouragement, and the kind of dynamic storied fun that consistently results in rave feedback from course participants! She conducts writing courses, workshops, masterclasses, and seminars across Australia.

Sue Higginson

Sue is a Greens MP in the NSW Upper House and an environmental law expert. Her work protecting the environment began decades ago in the old growth forests of Northeast NSW as a frontline activist. She’s also a farmer and grows dryland rice and is expanding koala habitat on her farm on the Richmond Floodplain.

Kylie Chan

Kylie Chan has a BBus, an MBA in IT, and an MPhil in Creative writing. She started out as an IT consultant specialising in business intelligence systems in Australia, and then had her own consulting business for ten years in Hong Kong. When she returned to Australia, Kylie wrote the bestselling nine-book Dark Heavens fantasy series, followed by the Dragon Empire science fiction trilogy. Her 2023 speculative novel, Minds of Sand and Light, explores the theme of artificial intelligence.

Maria Hitchcock OAM

Maria is a retired High School teacher, environmentalist and botanical author. She is a Life Member of the Australian Plants Society, former leader of the ANPSA Correa Study Group, Waratah & Flannel Flower Study Group, Save our Flora and holds the National Correa Collection in her private botanic garden. She is a regular ABC New England North West Radio Garden presenter.



Sarah Daley

Sarah Daley is a social worker and play therapist living on Bundjalung land. She provides psychotherapy to foster healing through play and creativity for children and youth. Sarah has facilitated community publishing projects through the Gugin Gudduba Local Aboriginal Land Council in Kyogle, and in Melbourne and Timor-Leste. Sarah believes in the power of storytelling to build hope and resilience.

Rosemary Nissen – Wade

Rosemary Nissen-Wade’s work has appeared in paper and digital journals, anthologies, and her own volumes. In the past she was involved in Melbourne Poets Union, poetry workshops in Pentridge Prison, and Word of Mouth Poetry Theatre. She has run workshops in TAFE and tertiary colleges and Neighbourhood Centres. Resident in Northern Rivers for the past 30 years, she now combines poetry and memoir.

Alasdair Carter

Alasdair is a multi-award winning performance poet and a battle-scarred nurse. He sings bedside on hospital wards and debrides wounds on carpeted stages. He writes and performs about what he knows and what he knows is good hand hygiene. With clean hands and honest stories; Alasdair hopes to heal heartache, recover trauma, and bandage suffering with beauty.

Andrew Spencer

Andrew Spencer is a poet and short story writer from the Northern Rivers NSW. He is the director of Raised Ink Press Publications. Andrew took out the People’s Choice Award at the Nimbin Poetry World Cup 2023 with his hard hitting piece about disadvantaged youth in the far western deserts of Queensland. Andrew’s work can be found in Coastlines Anthologies, various zines and online publications. Andrew produces poetry recordings for broadcast and creates audiobooks in his spare time.

David Heilpern

David Heilpern LLB LLM is an Australian lawyer, author and poet. After attending school in Sydney and Bathurst, and universities in Sydney, Canberra and Lismore, David became a solicitor and barrister. He acted for several high-profile clients, including North East Forest Alliance, and Nimbin HEMP. He is the author of five books, most notably For Fear of Favour: Sexual Assault of Young Prisoners, a world-first study of sexual assault in prisons, and has been an advocate of prison and law reform. In 1998 he became the youngest Magistrate in Australia. In 2004 he was awarded Southern Cross University’s Alumnus of the Decade. He is an award-winning short story writer, and is currently Dean of Law at Southern Cross University, having “retired” from the bench in 2020. He writes a syndicated column for the Byron Echo and other community newspapers, and is a regular opinion writer and guest on national media.

Ella Jeffery

Ella Jeffery is a poet, editor, and critic. Her debut collection of poems, Dead Bolt, won the Puncher & Wattmann Prize for a First Book of Poems, the Anne Elder Award, and was shortlisted for the Dame Mary Gilmore Award. Her poetry has appeared widely in journals and anthologies including Best Australian Poems, Meanjin, HEAT, Griffith Review, and Island. She is the recipient of a Queensland Writers Fellowship, the Mick Dark Fellowship for Environmental Writing, and the Queensland Premier’s Young Publishers and Writers Award. She is a lecturer in creative writing at Griffith University, and lives in Brisbane.

Ivan Crozier

Ivan Crozier (he/him) is a Community Health Promotion Officer working at ACON Northern Rivers in Lismore/ Widjabal Wiabal Land, where he conducts outreach aimed at ending HIV transmission and works to support the LBGTQ community.

Kevin Markwell

Kevin Markwell’s boyhood hero was Eric Worrell, who’s books and articles about his adventures with reptiles provided a script for him to try and follow. In 2010, Kevin and colleague, Nancy Cushing, had their book on Worrell and his Australian Reptile Park, Snake-Bitten, published by UNSW Press. More recently, Kevin has curated an online repository of Worrell’s writings, called The Eric Worrell Archive.

Linda Woodrow

Linda Woodrow is a Northern Rivers NSW based writer. Linda’s non-fiction book, The Permaculture Home Garden was published by Penguin in 1996. It is still in print and has sold over 30,000 copies. Her first novel, 470, was published by Melliodora Publishing in 2020, and has recently been published as an audiobook. It was shortlisted for the Varuna PIP and has been nominated for the NSW Premier’s Literary Award.

Dimitri Tishler

Dimitri is a British-Australian writer. He was born in England in 1970. A Placeless Sun: Toward Our Configured Destiny is his debut novel and was a labour of spiritual and literary love. He is currently a full-time writer and working on his second novel, The Illiterate Sky.