Sunday, 10 August 2014


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.

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