Clunes Booktown 2019: speakers, panels, events, booksellers, kids activities

A stack of gun: All roads will lead to Clunes next weekend for the return of Booktown, with author chats and a children's village. Picture: Justin Whitelock
A stack of gun: All roads will lead to Clunes next weekend for the return of Booktown, with author chats and a children's village. Picture: Justin Whitelock

Book lovers rejoice! Clunes Booktown returns on May 4 and 5, for two days of good reads and great discussions.

Now attracting more than 15,000 visitors per year, here's the 2019 highlights of this little gem of a festival.

What is defining us as a nation?

Australia's cultural demarcation lines are being drawn, just as the country struggles with polarised views on refugees, climate and national growth. Professor Marilyn Lake will chair a panel with authors George Megalogenis, Kon Karapanagiotidis and Melanie Cheng on how the country defines itself in the immediate future.

Jane Caro

Writer and social commentator Jane Caro will be in conversation with Melissa Cranenburgh on Saturday to chat about her book Accidental Feminists, as well as taking part in the Women Writing About Women panel with writers Alice Pung and Andrea Goldsmith.

Book traders

Picture: Dylan Burns

Picture: Dylan Burns

While you might get distracted by engrossing panels and quirky stores Clunes has to offer, books remain the real start of the show.

More than fifty different book sellers will be on the ground in Clunes, to provide the best in new releases, second hand books and collectible treasures. Check out the massive Readings tent in the centre of Fraser Street for author signings with most speakers after each session.

Men and violence in thrillers

Australian authors Sarah Bailey, Jock Serong and Josh Pomare will discuss how writers countenance violence against women in writing, now we're in the #MeToo era. The panel is presented by The Courier and the White Ribbon Foundation.

Read an interview with Sarah Bailey: Sarah Bailey heads to Clunes Booktown

Booktown Kids' Village

Gabe Davies, 4, Meg Nolan, 1, and Frankie Davies, 2, at the 2017 Clunes Booktown. Picture: Luka Kauzlaric

Gabe Davies, 4, Meg Nolan, 1, and Frankie Davies, 2, at the 2017 Clunes Booktown. Picture: Luka Kauzlaric

Don't be afraid of bringing your little book worms along, with roving performers and authors talks to keep the hcildren enthralled. Kids can put together a mini-book and get their creative minds racing at the Melbourne Young Writer's Studio marquee. A dress-up parade of heroes takes place on Sunday at 12.30pm, with prizes for the best children's outfits.

The delight of printing history

Clunes resident John Sayers is collating a history of how words were first put into print, showcased at the Lee Medlyn Home of Bottles, to give visitors an understanding of the history of the books they purchase.

Visitors can learn about early ink pens and calligraphy to woodblock printings and engravings, right through to movable type and rotary presses.

All the world's a stage

Paul Wookey, pictured performing at the festival in 2017, will take to the stage at Booktown again this year. Picture: Luka Kauzlaric

Paul Wookey, pictured performing at the festival in 2017, will take to the stage at Booktown again this year. Picture: Luka Kauzlaric

While stalwarts of the Pentaque Stage, such as the Creswick Brass Band, will be providing the soundtrack for much of Booktown, Federation University's Word of Mouth troupe will be taking on an adaptation of William Shakespeare's The Tempest. The focus will be put on spirit and bound servant Ariel, with a strong emphasis on music's impact.

State of the Art 

To mark Writers Victoria's 30 Year Anniversary, a diverse panel will consider where the state's literary scene is at. Michelle Scott-Tucker, the CEO of The Stella Prize will chair the discussion with Tony Birch, Kirstyn McDermott, Alicia Sometimes and Josh Pomare.

Pre-festival lunch with Fiona Lowe

Best-selling author Fiona Lowe will discuss her new novel Home Fires at the RACV Goldfields Resort on Friday with a two-course lunch. Contact the RACV Goldfields Resort for more information.

Straw bale maze

Ben Scholz, 5, takes on the straw bale maze. Picture: Luka Kauzlaric

Ben Scholz, 5, takes on the straw bale maze. Picture: Luka Kauzlaric

A classic sight of Booktown, the maze will keep big and little kids entertained for ages. More than 300 bales are used to construct the puzzle over three hours, with a new design ever year.

Ticket details and program at clunesbooktown.com.au

This story On the same page: Ten things not to miss at Clunes Booktown first appeared on The Courier.