Posted by: Lisa Hill | October 6, 2017

2017 Word by Word National Non-Fiction Festival

Geelong Library and Heritage Centre (Source: Wikipedia Commons)

Now that my life as a retiree is getting into some sort of order, I am finding that I can get to events that I’ve yearned to attend for years.  One of these is the Word by Word National Non-Fiction Festival in Geelong, held from 17-19 November and now in its fourth year and held (mostly) at their striking Library and Heritage Centre, worth visiting just for the architecture.  (Do visit here to see how stunning it is.  This is not just a building, it’s a work of art).

Geelong is only an hour and bit by car from my place, and I could even more easily do it by train but I’m making a weekend of it and staying at the official festival hotel, Rydges, which is walking distance from the venue.  (Or possibly tottering distance after the cocktail party on the opening night).

On Friday there are lots of interesting regional events in lovely places like Torquay and Queenscliff, but I’m on the road that day and will only make it to hear Peter Carey talk about the intersection between fiction and non-fiction in a presentation called A Long Way From Home, which coincidentally is the title of his new book, due out in November so I haven’t set eyes on it yet.

On Saturday I’m going to

  • Please Explain: John Safran and Anna Broinowski on Australia’s transition from left-leaning multiculturalism to the divided landscape in which we now find ourselves (Broinowski was one of the editors of The Honest History Book which I reviewed last week). (No, that was Alison Broinowski, my mistake, thanks to David from the Honest History website for setting me straight on this).
  • The Truth of the Matter: Lee Kofman, Alice Pung, Maria Tumarkin on the topic of Creative non-fiction
  • Watching Out: One of my heroes, barrister and human rights advocate Julian Burnside QC discussing Watching Out, a successor volume to his best-selling Watching Brief
  • Writing an Icon: Biographer Catharine Lumby with her subject Frank Moorhouse, one of Australia’s most celebrated literary figures (and author of the splendid Edith trilogy, reviewed in part here on this blog).
  • The Great Debate: Fiction is just a fancy word for lying.  (Oh yeah?  We’ll see what they have to say, eh?)

and on Sunday I’m going to

  • The Vandemonian Wars: with Paul Daley and Nick Brodie, about the war fought between the British Empire and the Aboriginal peoples of Van Diemen’s Land
  • Everyday Ethics, Simon Longstaff and with Matthew Sharpe, because I’m interested in everyday philosophy.
  • What to Say, How Much to Tell: Brenda Niall, need I say more?

I shall report on events in due course.  In the meantime, get your tickets here and if you would like to meet up let me know where and when and I will wear my little ANZ LitLovers badge so that you can find me.


  1. This really sounds like a fabulous festival. Small festivals are very attractive, really. Great speakers and sessions. And doesn’t the theatre look amazing.


  2. When I said ‘theatre’ I meant ‘library’. Let’s hear it for libraries.


    • Yes indeed, my local libraries are great:)
      (I get to go to more of their events now too).


  3. That sounds like such a great weekend. I haven’t heard of this festival before, but I’ll put it on my wishlist.


    • There’s other things to do too, I haven’t been to the Geelong Art Gallery for ages.


  4. What a gorgeous library. And what a wonderful sounding event. I’d love to be go to that too. How sensible to make a weekend of it.


    • We are very lucky that our neighbour likes looking after Amber. I am trying to train this dog to be ok about going into kennels but G won’t hear of it!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I’ll be looking out for your report on creative non-fiction. And Laura in the Getting of Wisdom learns that story telling is just sanctioned lying.


  6. This sounds like fun. I certainly wish Bass Strait would dry up so I could drive over to these things on short notice.


  7. I’m glad there’s a festival dedicated to non-fiction. With so many festivals now running, ape


  8. Oops… specialisation is surely necessary. Great program too!


    • Yes, though I have to say I also like the mix of fiction and non-fiction that they have at the Bendigo Writers Festival. The Spouse and I go as a couple and we go to some things together and other things by ourselves, and debrief in the cafes over lunch:)

      Liked by 1 person

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