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Highlights: 2017 Sunshine Coast International Readers and Writers Festival

MORE than 100 international, national and regional creatives will star at Coolum on August 12 and 13 for the 2nd annual Sunshine Coast International Readers and Writers Festival. Every event in all five festival venues is a highlight during the two-day, one-night festival, but here are some not-to-be-missed sessions.

  • Our festival’s international focus this year is on Papua New Guinean writers and we are proud to present the very first anthology of PNG women’s writers – “My Walk to Equality” published by Pukpuk rashmii bell headshot cropPublications and edited  by Rashmii Amoah Bell. The compilation of the book was a voluntary collaboration between Phil Fitzpatrick (Pukpuk Publications), Keith Jackson (PNG Attitude website) and writing by 44 PNG women writers. The book was launched in Port Moresby on International Women's Day this year. Rashmii will be joined on the panel by Phil Fitzpatrick and number of the PNG writers who contributed to this evocative anthology. Also on the panel is much-travelled PNG journalist Daniel Kumbon who is launching his latest work “I Can See My Country Clearly Now” this month. The book is “a traveler’s tribute to his own country”. Daniel was born in Enga Province, university educated and is now back working among his own people. Plus Brisbane’s Walkley award-winning- journalist Sean Dorney (“The Embarrassed Colonialist”) talks about his many decades reporting in PNG for the ABC. Saturday, August 12, Coolum Civic Centre, 11.15am to 12.15pm.


  •  The Sunshine Coast’s first-ever official Sunshine Coast Slam Poetry Championships. In a major coup for our festival, the Queensland Poetry Festival chose our event (from three other vying Zohab Khanevents) to host one of the 10-heats in this State-wide championship. In association with QPF, Australian Poetry Slam and the national Word Travels, the championships feature 2014 Australian Slam Poetry champion Zohab Zee Khan and award-winning SC slam poet Gabriella Salmon plus outstanding original singer-songwriters Barry Charles, Jay Bishoff, Andrea Kirwan, Sharon Brooks and hip-hop band extraordinaire The Lyrical. Saturday, August 12, Coolum Civic Centre, 6pm to 11pm. (Licensed event). Two workshops are being held prior to the championships: Friday, July 28 from 6pm at The Shared, Yandina and Saturday, August 12, 1pm to 3pm at Marquee 2, Jack Morgan Park on the afternoon prior to the championships. To register email: enjoy@sunshinecoastreadersandwritersfestival.co 
  • One  year around the Mediterranean by sea kayak, on foot, ocean rowboat and bike. Victoria’s Huw Kingston talks about his 13,000km circumnavigation of the Mediterranean starting in Gallipoli on the huw kingston headshotANZAC Centenary and raising a record-breaking amount of money for the Save the Children’s Fund - specifically for the children affected by the desperate crisis in Syria. Huw is an environmentalist, speaker and writer who has dedicated his life to adventure and giving back. Huw continues to work for the Save The Children Fund as an ambassador. He received the Spirit of Adventure Award from the Australian Geographic Society for his amazing efforts. Saturday, August 12, 10am to 11am, Coolum Civic Centre. 


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  • We have some simply awesome internationally-published children’s and YA authors including Paula Tura from Brazil, Melbourne’s Alison Reynolds and Meredith Costain, Queensland’s Adele Jones, Ann Wilson, Karen Tyrrell, Pamela Rushby, Victoria Carless, Michelle Worthington and Shannon Horsfall, New Zealand’s Dean O’Brien (Mr Yipadee), New South Wales’ Dee White, Western Australia’s Dianne Wolfer and Dimity Powell, the Sunshine Coast’s Elaine Ouston, Casey Ardron, Samara Welbourne, Chris Collins, Karen Clarke and Gayle Torrens. These authors will be presenting, hosting workshops and launching their latest books.  Saturday and Sunday, August 12 and 13.  
  • Our Australian love affair with the beach will be discussed on the "Surf's Up" panel featuring Dr Liz Ellison (CQU) who has completed a PhD on Australian beach culture, Phil Jarrett the award-winning surfing author, former "Tracks" dr liz ellisonmagazine editor and co-founder of the Noosa Festival of Surfing, author Ian Ingram (“Capital Surfers”) and surfboard-shaper and author Tom Wegener. Phil has recently released his latest book "The Life of Brine", a memoir about his extraordinary life which includes the recent launch of the documentary "Men of Foam & Wood" on Foxtel's History Channel. Dr Liz Ellison is a Lecturer in Creative Industries at CQUniversity, based at the Noosa campus. Liz researches Australian beaches, beach culture, and how beaches are represented in our national literature and films. She is interested in the ways beaches play a part in Australian identity. Ian Ingram's "Capital Surfers - surfing Australia's East Coast in the Sixties" is a 180-page book featuring 380 photos (all but five taken by Ian himself) and four original articles Ian wrote for Surfing World and Surf International magazine in 1967 and 1968. In 2013, Tom took a break from making surfboards to attend the University of the Sunshine Coast and write a PhD on the sustainability of the surfboard industry. He found that the amazing resiliency of the surfboard industry has come from its unique culture which has been passed down from generation to generation - and traveled to Papua New Guinea and worked with wooden surfboars makers there. Tom has turned his PhD thesis into a book, “Surfboard Artisans For the Love”. Since finishing his thesis, Tom has returned to making surfboards.  Saturday, August 12, 2pm to 3pm, Coolum Civic Centre
  • sharon pincott headshotOur passionate care for the environment and conservation is highlighted with a panel discussion featuring Sharon Pincott and Marie-Louise Serjeant.  Sharon (“Elephant Dawn”) spent 13 years monitoring and safeguarding the 500-plus elephants who bear the title of President of Zimbabwe. Sharon's 13 years in Africa were fraught with real danger, but her love of "her" wild elephant family saw this brave and passionate woman stand her ground and get on with the enormous tasks at hand - including dealing with the everyday dangers of paching, corruption and violence. Marie-Louise is the event co-ordinator for National Day of Action for Dingoes, runs the Connect 2 Wildlife 4 Environment Facebook page and host’s Eumundi’s Global March for elephants and rhinos. One of Marie-Louise's highlights during her decades of conservation work was a private meeting with Dr Jane Goodall. She will talk about her conservation work in Australia and the real hardships that dingoes face. Sunday, August 13, 3.15pm to 4.15pm, Coolum Civic Centre.

 * Sunday, August 13 is Children’s Day with storytelling and craft activities in Jack Morgan Park. Award-winning teenage author and entrepreneur Samara Welbourne will be hosting two “How to build Fairy Houses and Troll Cave” workshops during the day. These workshops have a fee of $25 which covers all materials to take home a masterpiece. The workshops are a fundraiser for Samara’s project of building a library in a remote village samara welbourne smallin Eastern Bali. Samara has teamed up with Balinese teenager Tyas Latra from Karangasem in East Bali with the aim of raising $20,000 so that their dream of building a library in the extremely poor area of Bungaya Village can become a reality. The young women became friends while Samara lived in Bali with her mother, Cherrell Picton, who was working as an Australian Volunteer International (AVI) volunteer at PUSPADI Bali. Tyas is the daughter of PUSPADI Bali’s Director, I Nengah Latra. The library is being built on land owned by Latra. The girls’ vision to build a library was ignited when they heard the Indonesian Government mandate that every child must read for 15 minutes a day in order to improve the national literacy rates.

  • And so much more: Workshops, presentations, Artisan Market Stalls, food and coffee stalls, environmental information stalls, buskers, poets…  Such a spirited atmosphere throughout the weekend.