For two days this Autumn, the tiny town of Clunes becomes Australia’s biggest bookstore once again, celebrating the written word in all its glory.
Clunes, the bibliophile capital of regional Victoria, is set to come alive this autumn in a celebration of books, words, writers and renowned authors following a two-year hiatus.
For two days, On 30 April and 1 May, the May Day weekend, the historic main street of picturesque north-west Victorian town of Clunes will transform, once again, into a spectacular book bazaar for the Clunes Booktown Festival.
The annual festival of books, art and ideas will return with more than fifty specialist book traders offering an extraordinary range – new and second hand, antiquarian, and contemporary, rare and popular – covering every imaginable topic and theme, as well as talks, panel discussions and workshops with some of the country’s best writers and thinkers.
Stay up to date with what’s happening in and around the region here.
With thousands of people expected to descend on Clunes – just one of the world’s 15 internationally declared Booktowns – the festival has put together an impressive lineup of renowned authors and guest speakers for its long-awaited return, celebrating every aspect of the book – not just writing and reading but making, publishing, retailing, and sharing.
At a glance, the opening panel of this year’s festival features the founders of the Melbourne School of Discontent – Jacqui Katona, Tony Birch and Gary Foley – a lineup sure to get things firing as they examine, analyse and critically dissect the popular and accepted narratives of Australian history.
With an impressive program this year, the festival will also see the likes of renowned authors Jock Serong, JP Pomare, Don Watson, Sean O’Beirne, Chloe Hooper, Fiona Scott Norman, Arnold Zable, and Jacinta Parsons. Other names include Australian writer, poet and broadcaster Alicia Sometimes; musician, writer and disability advocate, Eliza Hull; singer, drummer, composer, lyricist, voice-over artist, actor and musical director Jeremy Hopkins; short stories, true crime and crime fiction writer Katherine Kovacic; writer, editor and all-round communicator Kerrie O’Brien; Advocacy Manager at the ASRC Ogy Simic; Australian writer and musician Wayne Marshall, among many others.
Over two days at various Booktown venues, these guests will delve into topics spanning modern politics and lifestyles, our First Nations peoples, issues of climate change and energy, women’s voices, growing wealth while making a difference, obsessions with bad behaviour, overcoming adversity and DIY publishing, through an impressive program of author-led talks, workshops and panel discussions.
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While most events are ticketed, there are some free events within the program worth getting to including the Independent Publishing panel with Brad Shaw and Jane Wilson; a panel with 10 independent authors on their works, and a presentation by Prof. Barry Golding about broadening the men’s shed movement in the company of men and women.
Alongside the talks, book sales, workshops and book signings, the festival will also feature tonnes of live entertainment, street performers, an interactive kid’s precinct and free program (including a Straw Bale Maze and Scavenger Hunt), and of course plenty of food and drink from the stalls and shops of local providores.
If the author talks, live entertainment and the main street becoming the biggest bookstore in the country weren’t enough, Clunes also features stunning architecture from the gold rush era, specialty museums and cute cafes, truly providing the relaxing literary escape of your dreams.
Clunes is about thirty minutes north of Ballarat and a shade under two hours from Melbourne by car or comfortable train ride and is the perfect site from which to explore Dja Dja Wurrung country and the goldfields.
A Festival Weekend Pass is available and gives you access to both days of the festival for all book-browsing, exhibitions, music performances, kids activities and free talks.
Clunes Booktown runs from Saturday, April 30 to Sunday, May 1 2022. For more info and tickets, head here.