Posted by: Lisa Hill | June 27, 2021

Port Fairy Literary Weekend #2

I am just back home after a wonderful weekend in Port Fairy attending the inaugural Literary Weekend organised by Blarney’s Books.

It took longer to drive down than we’d anticipated, (plus, we had a very nice quick lunch at the Winchester Tavern en route) so we arrived in time to catch only part of RWR McDonald and Lyn Yeowart  in conversation with Danielle Binks, discussing what attracts them to crime fiction, and how through tackling a mystery you can also tackle some of life’s bigger questions.  Crime is not my thing but I’m always interested to hear why other people like it, so it was a pity we missed most of this.

Then it was Wayne Marshall and Michael Winkler talking about ‘Masculinity and Humour, in a session hosted by Stella Glorie (who reviews books at Thirty Books on Instagram.) Wayne Marshall’s book is called Shirl, and yes, that is a man pashing with a kangaroo.  The book, a collection of 14 fabulist short stories,  was shortlisted in the 2019 Victorian Premier’s Literary  Awards.  Michael Winkler’s novel is called Grimmish and it’s a meditation on pain, masculinity and vulnerability, plus questionable jokes to leaven a serious book with humour.  Both authors acknowledged that there had been a shift in the conversation about masculinity and they think it’s a good thing, and that if masculinity changes then it expands the idea of what it can be.  But their books are set before 2021, and they were written in the knowledge that while there are more men in positions of power such as politicians and CEOs. there are also more male suicides, more homeless men, and more men with mental health issues…

In the evening Don Watson launched Jock Serong’s new novel The Burning Island, which is  book #2 of the Grayling Family trilogy, following on from Preservation (which I reviewed here).  Book #3 is in the pipeline and it sounds very interesting indeed.  (The next day Jock and I swapped notes about sources for the history of the Tasmanian Aborigines… he says he doesn’t do a great deal of research but he’s being modest: he’s already read a great deal and the only source I could suggest that he might find useful when writing about Wybalenna was the PEN Macquarie Anthology of Aboriginal Literature edited by Anita Heiss and Peter Minter.)

On Sunday night we had a very fine dinner at a restaurant called Merrijig.  If you’re down that way, don’t miss the opportunity to eat there.  (You’ll need to book, like we did).

On Sunday, we attended a most enjoyable session with Danielle Binks and Nicki Greenberg, hosted by Kate Hazel Hall.  The topic was historical fiction for children and it was fascinating. Nicki’s book is called The Detective’s Guide to Ocean Travel, about a child on board a luxury ocean liner in the 1920s, when a valuable jewel is stolen. Danielle’s is The Year the Maps Changed, on a theme dear to my heart, Australia’s treatment of refugees, back in 1999 in the days when it was humane.  Danielle reminded us that although it may seem like just yesterday to some of us, it is actually history!

After that, there was the session we came for: Michelle Scott Tucker talking about her bio Elizabeth Macarthur, A Life at the Edge of the World (which I reviewed here) with Nicole Kelly in conversation with Jock Serong.  Nicole’s book is called Lament, and it’s a re-imagining of the bushranger’s life where things turn out differently.  This was such a good session: Jock is a first-rate chair and the conversation flowed so well that everyone wanted to buy the books and they sold out afterwards!

Talking of books, I came home with a grand pile of new ones.  Blarney’s have a great range, and they have second-hand books as well and I found some real treasures there including a bio of Olga Masters by Julie Lewis, and Imre Salusinszky’s profile of Gerald Murnane for the Oxford Australian Writers Series.  But that’s not all.  Blarney’s have an art gallery too, and that’s where I bought my new handbag.

Those who know me, know that I have no interest in fashion at all. I buy a handbag to carry stuff in and I use it until it falls apart and then I buy a new one.  But how could I resist this one?  Handmade by Port Fairy craftswoman Jill Edwards it incorporates a book spine, and it comes from her Storyteller range, see here.  

Thanks again to the lovely people at Barney’s Books at 37 James Street, Port Fairy, Victoria 3284 phone: 5568 2174.

PS The reason I didn’t blog this while I was away, was because the internet at our accommodation was too slow to even contemplate it.


  1. I just love the name of the place!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I must do a bit of research to find out how it got the name. I’m guessing from the fairy penguins that come ashore, but I don’t actually know.
      Update, no, I’m totally wrong: A Google search tells me that ‘Port Fairy was named after a small boat ‘Fairy’, captained by James Wishart, which entered the port and probably the River Moyne during a whaling reconnaissance’. So, (a-hem) not a sweet ethereal kind of reference, but rather a reference to the sordid history of whaling, thankfully an era now long over and done with, at least here in Australia!


  2. Oh, that’s a lovely bag! But too big for me… I only ever carry a phone & a debit card with me these days.

    Sounds like you had an interesting weekend. The rest of Australia seems to have gone into some form of lockdown or mask mandate because bloody Gladys took too long to stamp down on other the Sydney outbreak and now everyone’s gone back to their respective states carrying the virus with them 🙄

    Liked by 3 people

    • As I just said on Twitter, we in Victoria have done our Covid-time, and if we have more of it because NSW refused to lockdown for political reasons, we are going to be very, very angry.
      I heard her myself as I was doomscrolling the media on the drive home, she talked about how it was a matter of ‘balancing the medical advice’. *balancing* it…not taking it.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Just had my first AstraZeneca shot yesterday Lisa and the clinic was completely out of the Pfizer. GPs only permitted 50 vaccinations/week and only two in this town doing vaccinations – and Sydney is not far away. It took over two hours for me to get the shot done. We are really going to have to improve on this! Interesting article in The Guardian about the different media reportage on NSW versus Victoria – no surprises though, we already knew!

        I’m glad you were able to manage the Pt Fairy trip after the long lock down you endured!

        Liked by 1 person

        • It feels great when you have it done, yes! The Spouse is having his second one shortly, and then I have my second after that.
          It would be a terrible thing if it gets into Indigenous communities in the NT and Qld…


  3. I’ve no interest in fashion either, but that is a gorgeous bag!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. How wonderful Lisa – it sounds wonderul and just to get out and about is a treat nowadays. As for the bag – gorgeous!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • It was just wonderful. Western Victoria is just gorgeous, everything is lush and green, and the weather gods were kind and we saw almost none of the forecasted rain.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Sounds like you had the perfect weekend. Books, dinner in a nice restaurant and a new bag with a bookish theme. What’s not to love!! 🌷🐧🌷🐧🌷

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, that’s my idea of a perfect life.
      (Well, I won’t need a new bag for at least five years!)


  6. Sounds a great weekend, and I’m so glad you got away. Their program looks good, and not too affected by sudden lockdowns?

    Love the bag. I rarely change bags either, just use one until I wear it out, but that looks tempting!

    BTW Was there a #1 post? I can’t see one? Was their an earlier announcement about it – maybe that’s it and I didn’t look back that far?

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Am so jealous of your book purchases.Julia Lewis was my tutor at Murdoch. A lovely woman and a generous tutor. Love the bag hope it lives up to its looks.

    Liked by 1 person

    • At Murdoch?! That’s where I did the first part of a degree in Asian Studies, by correspondence. It shows you how long ago that was when they introduced a phone hook-up for for classes in Indonesian II and I had to find somewhere else to learn it because The Spouse was running his business from home and I couldn’t block up the phone for so long, what with the time difference between WA and here. (We already had two landlines, one for the computer dialup, and the other one for the phone, and we couldn’t come at the idea of a third just for a two hour lesson once a week). It really was The Olden Days!!
      I really enjoyed the Asian Studies part of the degree, learning about SE Asia and Cambodia in particular. It was an excellent course, and they ran their correspondence courses very well, especially compared to the University Of Queensland where they sent the course notes for Law to their correspondence students a couple of weeks before we were due to sit the end of year exams!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Maybe one day will make it to Port Fairy. It seems like my kind of place.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Love Port Fairy even if it is too often cold and wet. Spent a lot of time there at the beach when we lived nearby (50 plus years ago), and still go through occasionally. Glad that Michelle (Scott Tucker) is still getting some mileage out of Elizabeth Macarthur, she’s an articulate speaker.
    Always good to find a new bookshop. I might be through there next week and will have to see if I can find somewhere to pull up.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Michelle is a *great* speaker. I’ve read the book twice, and (as you know) been to the launch, and still I wanted to hear her talk about it:)

      There’s a very nice (quick service) Thai restaurant… (there are two, we went to Yellow House), but I’m not sure that it’s open every day. The Mill is good for breakfast.


  10. It was a wonderful festival, for lots of reasons. Intelligently curated, with lots of interesting speakers discussing interesting things. I heard about masculinity, ocean travel, YA readership in Australia, refugee policies and – highlight – Don Watson spoke at length. Great location. Well organised. And, last but not least, it was wonderful simply because we were all lucky enough to avoid a forced pivot to Zoom and could speak to each other face to face. Loved it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You are right, the F2F bit was the best bit. It was really nice to be able to chat informally with Jock and Danielle…I’d had a bit to do with her when #LoveYA Oz was launched, so it was really nice to actually meet her.
      And it’s good to get some Melbourne money into the regions!

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Sounds like a fabulous time and I really do love your new bag. Certainly irresistible!

    Liked by 2 people

  12. I don’t recognize any of these books, but I can surely share in the joy of a good literary festival and the related bookish shopping that can accompany such events. Also, I giggled at the idea of your first post simply being about the idea of going to it! :)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Heh, who would have thought that the idea of it would be so exciting!


  13. […] the TBR to read next after I finish Miles Allison’s In Moonland.  (You might remember that I told you about this book when I reported on my time at the Port Fairy Literary Weekend.)  So you will be seeing my thoughts about it before long.  Now, however, you can hear about the […]


  14. […] as you may remember from my post about the Port Fairy Literary Weekend, Danielle featured in a session about writing historical fiction for young people and I bought and […]


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