Scone Literary Festival 2017 Review

by Paula Stevenson

My small country town, Scone, last weekend, welcomed a bevy of great writers and producers to celebrate the life of books and the love of literature. The Scone Literary Festival is in its infancy but growing so fast that this year we were bursting at the seams.

It is a unique festival, revealing all that is wonderful about living in a rural community that may be small, but fosters a wealth of artistic and creative talent. We were blessed to have local identity Philip Adams, who is not only a social commentator and broadcaster but also a farmer, to facilitate a number of panels with well known writers such as Don Watson, Peter Fitzsimons and journalist Joanne McCarthy.

The panel discussions were held in the deconsecrated church that has become the Arts and Crafts Hall and in the adjoining room, there were tables groaning with books for sale from the local Hunt-a-book shop as well as displays of photos from the movie The Dressmaker.

Outside, the weather was perfect and visitors could sit under umbrellas and enjoy the fragrances wafting from the garden and it must be said, the occasional scent from the nearby stabled horses, which is only fitting for the Horse Capital of Australia.

The outdoor venue proved to be perfect for the soiree on Saturday evening with a talk by author Rosalie Ham and the producer of the movie, The Dressmaker, Sue Maslin. The blow up screen rose into life as the sun set and the audience was treated to a visual feast of stunning sets and costuming. And even if you had seen the movie before, as that gorgeous young man Liam Hemsworth met a tragic end, it was hard to hold back the tears!

After all that sentiment, some bleaker issues were under discussion on Sunday, with Joanne McCarthy in conversation with Philip Adams about the exposure of child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church, followed by a panel discussing the dark art of writing Domestic Drama. Lighter relief was provided by a panel of authors, Cathryn Hein, Kim Kelly and David Darcy, discussing rural fiction and the influence of rural life on their writing and creative endeavours.

The weekend concluded with a lazy Sunday Afternoon Book club under the spreading branches of an old tree in the garden and the discussion consolidated the belief that books are not a dying art, but alive and well.


Press Release - 2nd November 2017

Scone Literary Festival announces winners of inaugural
High School Writing Competition


Kaitland Parker

The Committee of the Scone Literary Festival today announced the names of the winners of their first ever writing competition, which was judged by well-known author Rosalie Ham.  Rosalie wrote the highly acclaimed book The Dressmaker and she will be appearing at the Scone Literary Festival on 11-12 November. The winners were:

1st Prize of $400 and a certificate went to Year 12 Scone Grammar School student Kaitland Parker with her touching story ‘Stargazers’.  Rosalie Ham said of the story:  ‘Stargazers’ is both well written, subtle and engaging. The author uses literary devices and is descriptive though doesn’t use extraneous words. It’s also an evocative story, emotive with a sense of tension and ‘mystery’.  A simple story with great resonance. “

2nd Prize of $200 went to Year 9 Scone High School student Phoebe Farley for her story “A light in the Darkness”, a “funny and sad, tragic and uplifting” story about a blind girl who is teased and nicknamed ‘Bat’ by the unkind boys in her class and her new class mate and friend who helps her stand up to the bullies through his friendship and encouragement of her to be brave.

3rd Prize of $100 was awarded to Year 9 Muswellbrook High School student Ella Murray with her atmospheric, poetic and clever story of a budding new romance “A connection by coffee”. 

The Committee have also awarded three ‘Encouragement Awards’ to three further entrants, each taking home $50 and a certificate for their efforts.  These students were:  Madelaine Rose of Scone Grammar, Milarni-Rose Cloake and Lucy McGrath, both from Scone High School.

Rosalie Ham said of the competition’The process of employing imagination to express ideas, then crafting those ideas to communicate emotions and information well is a skill we employ a lot. It’s good to see kids are still celebrating that skill despite the way language and communication is changing.’

Winners will be presented with their cheques and certificates at the Scone Literary Festival’s ‘Soiree in the Gardens’ event next Saturday night (11 November) at Scone Arts & Crafts, when they will have their chance to meet Rosalie Ham and The Dressmaker film Producer Sue Maslin who will make the presentation.

The Dressmaker movie– outdoor screening under the stars

There will also be a screening of The Dressmaker after the Soiree and a photographic exhibition of the couture from the movie.  The general community of Scone and beyond are invited to attend the screening, which starts at 7.30pm.  Attending the screening only is $5 per person (children under the age of 15 are free).  There will be a lolly bar available and you are encouraged to bring a picnic rug and some nibbles for the duration of the movie.  Tickets can be bought on the door on the night.

For more information visit:

Media enquiries please contact Jan Sinclair on 0433 068 918



Press Release - 19th October 2017

Remembering The Battle of Beersheba at the Scone Literary Festival


The 31st October marks the 100th anniversary of the Australian Light Horse and the iconic battle, the Charge of Beersheba, during WW1.

There are close local connections to this battle as members of the Haydon family from Bloomfield, Blandford, were enlisted as Light Horseman and Guy Haydon famously rode his horse Midnight at the Charge.

Publisher Tom Thompson has produced a book celebrating that event, called ‘To Beersheba 1917’- and it contains 100  previously unpublished photographs from the Haydon Family archive at Bloomfield, along with text from Guy Haydon’s memoir, as well as excerpts from Ion Idriess’ diaries.

Tom has also published a new edition of Ion Idriess’ book,’ The Desert Column’ a book complied from Idriess’ diaries, as he served at Gallipoli and later in Egypt and Palestine. Guy Haydon and Midnight will feature on the cover.

Appropriately, these editions will be launched at the Scone Literary Festival on Remembrance Day, 11th November and all are welcome to attend the launch and to observe the minute’s silence.

If you want to come to this launch as well as be involved in many of our wonderful sessions, then weekend package tickets are selling fast.

So check the programme to see the great line up of guests including the likes of Peter FitzSimons, Phillip Adams, Don Watson and Rosalie Ham (The Dressmaker). Check out the programme at and click on the Book Tickets button on the website to secure your tickets.

Scone Literary Festival mission: To promote books and to nurture a love of literature, learning and writing.

Media enquiries please contact Jan Sinclair on 0433 068 918


Press Release - 1st September 2017

The small rural writers festival with big names and big ideas


‘COME ON UP’ is the catch cry of the Upper Hunter Valley and the rural town of Scone wants you to ‘come on up’, not just to experience great country hospitality and marvel at the glorious landscape, but to be stimulated and refreshed by making new connections at the annual Scone Literary Festival.

Now in its fourth year, the Festival this year, on 11 and 12 November, boasts a stellar line up of big names worthy of being on the bill of any major city festival.  It is the only writer’s festival in the Upper Hunter and is growing in audience size and reputation at breakneck speed.

One of the stars is Peter FitzSimons and significantly, as the 11th is Remembrance Day, his many books have relevance, covering various conflicts including Fromelles and Villiers-Bretonneux. He will be in conversation with our local literary treasure Phillip Adams. President of the festival committee Jan Sinclair said:  ”We may be a small festival in a small town, but we have big ideas and a real desire to grow this wonderful event into one of the region’s biggest events.  We are so thrilled to have the likes of Peter FitzSimons on this year’s program.  Attracting such names really takes the festival into a different league.

We would like to think that in the next few years we could grow in size and become similar in size to the Byron Bay Writers Festival”.

And with a line up like the 2017 event there is no reason that this might not eventuate!

Phillip will be discussing his most recent book called ‘Insights and Reflections’ recounting topics he has examined in his columns and he will also talk with Don Watson, ex-Prime Minister Keating’s speechwriter and screenwriter of ‘The Man Who Sued God’, about his latest book, ‘There It Goes Again.’

Tom Thompson (publisher, collector and valuer) and local, Peter Haydon, will launch ‘To Beersheba 1917’, a book celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Australian Light Horse and the Charge at Beersheba.

Another star attraction this year is Rosalie Ham, whose great book ‘The Dressmaker’ was made into a very successful movie. The Producer of the movie, Sue Maslin, will also be there and both will speak at the Soiree on Saturday evening, after which there will be a screening of the movie under the stars!

The audience are being encouraged to dress up in 1950s attire and also be inspired by the photographic exhibition from the making of the film which will be on display.

On Sunday 12 November Phillip Adams will be in conversation again, with Gold Walkley Winner and Newcastle Journalist, Joanne McCarthy, who will also be part of a panel talking about ‘The dark art of writing domestic drama’. She will be joined by Mel Jacobs, Paul Mitchell and yet another Walkley Award winner, Melissa Lucashenko.

The list of authors continues with the likes of ‘Red Dog’ photographer and locally based artist David Darcy along with Cathryn Hein, Kim Kelly, Ilka Tampke, Annette Marfording and local Upper Hunter author Leonie Rogers.

The weekend wraps up with a Creative Writing workshop, supported by Arts Upper Hunter, with Paul Mitchell and a laid back, lazy Sunday afternoon Book Club where you are invited to discuss your latest reads with fellow book lovers.

Tickets are on sale now and will go fast so book now and see the full program:

Scone Literary Festival mission: To promote books and to nurture a love of literature, learning and writing.

For more information and updates to the program visit:

Media enquiries please contact Jan Sinclair on 0433 068 918


Press Release - 18th August 2017

Scone Literary Festival is ‘making connections’ with

young readers in the Upper Hunter


To mark national Book Week Scone’s flourishing writer’s festival has released details of their program dedicated to our young readers and budding writers.  In this fast paced digital age the Scone Literary Festival committee is passionate about encouraging their younger audience to ‘maintain the page’ so will once again be hosting a pre-school program at Scone Library on November 10.

Scone Literary Festival President Jan Sinclair said: “We are really excited to be releasing the details of our kids program this week to coincide with Book Week.  It’s really important for children of all ages to experience the written word and to establish good reading habits from a very early age.  The sessions will feature two authors, Jess Black and Lynn Jenkins and illustrator Kirrili Lonegran.  The sessions will run back to back and be repeated so no one misses out and what’s more they are free to attend.”

In addition to the sessions at the Library UNLOAD will once again be running sessions for K-6 on the same day, and for High School aged students there is a writing competition to enter and win a prize pool of $1000.  The competition is currently underway and entries close on 1 September.  Stories need to be based around the festival theme of ‘Making Connections’ and need only be 500 words so hop onto and Write Up!

Scone Literary Festival mission: To promote books and to nurture a love of literature, learning and writing.

For more information and updates to the program visit:

Media enquiries please contact Jan Sinclair on 0433 068 918