Bendigo is to be congratulated on its Writers Festival, which, by all accounts, must be deemed a great success. The 2014 festival was held last weekend.
I was invited to host a chat with Dr Penny Olsen about her recent book, 'An Eye for Nature, the Life and Art of William T. Cooper.' Sir David Attenborough wrote a foreword for the book. He refers to Bill Cooper as 'arguably one of the greatest of all bird artists.' And I must say, Bill Cooper comes across as a really nice bloke.
There were lots of famous people milling around the festival. Les Murray spoke at the opening. I know that Blanche d'Alpuget was there because the publicist was nonplussed when The Age preferred to interview me, rather than her! (So was I!) I saw Robert Manne amongst the crowd and Stephanie Alexander came out of the theatrette before I went in. I enjoyed sitting in the Green Room, feeling very important, sipping black coffee and soaking up the atmosphere. There seemed to be dozens of young female volunteers, dressed in turquoise tee-shirts, and delighted to be involved in the festival. I asked one how it was going, and she assured me that it was great, 'hundreds of people had turned up.' I thought it looked more like thousands.
A writer always likes to see her books on sale, and they had some of mine there, so of course I felt good about that too. Everyone seemed cheerful, enjoying themselves, experiencing Bendigo.
And no one mentioned the mosque.
Well done, Bendigo! A festival for everyone to put into their diary for next year.