Two day literary feast Clunes Booktown Festival returns for 2024

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Two day literary feast Clunes Booktown Festival returns for 2024

Credit: Chloe Smith
Words by Staff Writer

For the first time ever, entry to the festival site will be free, so everyone can browse new, old and rare books in one of Australia's biggest outdoor book bazaars.

Australia’s beloved regional literary fiesta, the Clunes Booktown Festival, is back with a bang for 2024, boasting an impressive lineup of authors and musicians set to grace the historic hamlet of Clunes on 23rd and 24th March.

Nestled 36km north of Ballarat, Clunes will once again transform into a paradise for book lovers, featuring author panels delving into topics ranging from the ethics of crime writing to the significance of booze in Australian culture, alongside discussions on journalism’s role in democracy and crafting stories for young audiences.

Stay up to date with what’s happening within the region’s art scene here


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What’s more, this year’s festival entry will be free, offering open access to the iconic outdoor book bazaar brimming with new, second-hand, and rare volumes, complemented by free music performances in the park and family-friendly activities.

Curated by Creative Clunes CEO Sue Beal, the program promises a diverse range of sessions spanning history, romance, fantasy, poetry, self-publishing, and journalism. Among the highlights are:

  • Let Me Read to You: Renowned storytellers Helen Garner, Jane Clifton, and Wayne Macauley enchant audiences with their tales, hosted by Jacinta Parsons.
  • Killing Women, Fact and Fiction: Crime writers Kerryn Mayne, Robyn Walton, Emily Webb, and Carmel Bird ponder the portrayal of violence against women in literature, with researcher Kate Driscoll providing insights.
  • Building a Career: First Nations women Nornie Bero and Crystal McKinnon share their journeys to achieving agency and recognition, in conversation with Tony Birch.
  • Telling Our Stories: Authors Nova Weetman, Maxine Beneba Clarke, Sam Drummond, and Sarah Myles discuss transforming personal experiences into compelling narratives.
  • Politics, Pleasure, and Stigma – Drinking in Australia: Historians Richard Gilbert and Alex Ettling explore the cultural significance of alcohol, accompanied by sociologist Sarah MacLean.
  • Coming of Age: Miles Franklin winner Sofie Laguna and other authors delve into tales of adolescence and the challenges faced by the younger generation.
  • Making Queer History: Michael Earp, Wayne Murdoch, and Ange Bailey examine the importance of preserving LGBTQ+ stories and memories, moderated by Dennis Altman.
  • Tales of Love: Steph Vizard, Carrie Tiffany, and Lillian Lumley share insights into portraying intimate relationships in literature, joined by Alicia Thompson.
  • What Makes a Good Read: Alice Pung, Tony Birch, and Joanna Murray-Smith discuss the art of crafting captivating stories for young readers.

In addition to these enriching sessions, attendees can savour Victorian stories, relish local food and wine, and get a sneak peek into the State Library Victoria’s conservation efforts and exhibitions.

The festival will also feature an array of music, workshops, and additional author talks, including events with Dennis Altman, Toni Jordan, Megan Rogers, Will Cox, and Jess Ho.

For tickets, visit