Byron Writers Festival announces full program for 2024

Byron Writers Festival at Bangalow Showground photo by Kate Holmes Revealing a vibrant program packed with high-profile literary luminaries and new voices to discover, Byron Writers Festival has announced its program for 2024.

Themed From the ground up, the 2024 festival will feature 160 Australian and international guests over three days on beautiful Bundjalung Country in the hinterland town of Bangalow, 15 minutes from Byron Bay. The festival also offers writing workshops, book launches, an engaging program for children, and events across the Northern Rivers region.

In curating the 2024 program incoming Artistic Director Jessica Alice reflected on the theme, “From the ground up springs new life, new ideas, and new possibilities. It’s where communities mobilise and movements are born. This festival program explores our histories and the seeds of the futures that we begin to build today.”

International guests include two time Booker Prize finalist, US-based Nigerian writer Chigozie Obioma, with his new novel The Road to The Country; major Irish literary voice, Caoilinn Hughes, author of The Alternatives; and UK-based novelist Leo Vardiashvili whose debut Hard By a Great Forest follows a family fleeing post-Soviet Georgia.

The festival also welcomes Indian activist Meena Kandasamy whose latest work of political poetry is Tomorrow Someone Will Arrest You; and award-winning Maori poet Tayi Tibble. Trent Dalton features in conversation with Julia Baird, Charlotte Wood explores grief and forgiveness with Ailsa Piper and literary master Richard Flanagan will discuss his powerful memoir Question 7.

David Marr will examine re-writing colonial myths, and comedian Steph Tisdell will share how she writes with humour. An outstanding contingent of crime writers include international bestseller Jane Harper, Candice Fox, Matthew Condon and actor-turned-novelist Bryan Brown joined in conversation with Jennifer Byrne.

Kon Karapanagiotidis welcomes you into his Greek kitchen, Priya Nadesalingam takes you ‘Home to Biloela’, and AFL legend Nicky Winmar will share how his proud and defining stand against racism on the playing field 30 years ago continues to resonate today.

Gideon Haigh will reflect on the loss of his brother Jaz, and renowned sociologist Rebecca Huntley will launch her new memoir Sassafras, revealing her treatment of trauma with MDMA, and Maggie Walters gives insight into living with Multiple Personality Disorder.

Midnight Oil’s Jim Moginie and singer songwriter Kate Ceberano take you behind the scenes of their lives and the music industry, Suzie Miller into the world of her smash-hit play Prima Facie and best-selling writer and actor William McInnes will share a collection of hilarious memories inspired by Australia’s way with words.

Bob Brown will appear in a special feature event, as well as in the panel ‘For the Earth’ with fellow Tasmanian Richard Flanagan, forest ecology expert David Lindenmayer, poet Ali Cobby Eckermann and Greens MP Sue Higginson.

Bruce Pascoe and Lyn Harwood share inspiring lessons of Indigenous cultivation from their farm. Take a deep dive into the wonder of the ocean with author James Bradley, climate scientist Joelle Gergis and oceanographer Daniel Harrison.

James Bradley will also deliver the annual Thea Astley Address. Australia’s entwined relationship with big oil companies is scrutinised by Royce Kurmelovs whose book Slick will be launched at the festival.

Former BBC correspondent and author Nick Bryant, ABC Global Affairs editor John Lyons and Indian activist Meena Kandasamy will discuss The Mega Election Year.

Kim Williams AM, new chair of the ABC, will appear in conversation with Kerry O’Brien to discuss the future of the public broadcaster, and leading Aboriginal affairs journalist Amy McQuire, ABC 4 Corners investigative journalist Louise Milligan, Nick Bryant and Julianne Schultz will discuss press freedom in the annual Mungo MacCallum Panel.

The Northern Rivers region is fertile ground for creatives and more than 40 local writers are featured at the festival including Daniel Browning (Close To The Subject), Mykaela Saunders (Always Will Be), Jodi Rodgers (Unique), Isabelle Reinecke (Courting Power: Law, Democracy & The Public Interest in Australia), Mindy Woods (Karkalla at Home), Annika Johansson (Downstream), Mandy Nolan and Rhoda Roberts AO.

Fans of YA fiction will be thrilled with festival appearances by global best-selling author Lynette Noni (The Prison Healer), Lili Wilkinson (Deep is the Fen), and debut YA novelists Steph Tisdell (The Skin I’m In) and Graham Akhurst (Borderland).

Young kids get a marquee to themselves on Sunday morning to meet and be entertained by their favourite authors and illustrators in the hugely popular Kids Big Day Out program. Stage presentations feature Bob Brown, Kate & Jol Temple, Peter Carnavas, and Matt Stanton, alongside the StorySpace workshops.

Separately ticketed evening events include Bob Brown in Conversation with TV presenter Jan Fran at the Bangalow A&I Hall, and festival keynote Gala: From the ground up featuring Chigozie Obioma (USA/Nigeria), Parramatta Laureate in Literature Yumna Kassab, and celebrated journalists David Marr, Louise Milligan and Amy McQuire at Byron Theatre.

Produced by Marieke Hardy, Better off Said brings together bestselling author and actor William McInnes, comedian Steph Tisdell, esteemed poet Ali Cobby Eckermann, and Midnight Oil’s Jim Moginie.

Plug in to Electric Poetics with international guests Tayi Tibble (NZ) and Meena Kandasamy (India), PEN award-winning author Nam Le, poet Jazz Money, hip hop artist Mitch King, and music by Nicole Smede.

Feature events sell out quickly so get in quick! For the full offering of separately ticketed feature and satellite events throughout the region please, visit:

The 2024 Byron Writers Festival takes place at the Bangalow Showground and various venues from 9 – 11 August. For more information and full program, visit: for details.

Image: Byron Writers Festival at Bangalow Showground – photo by Kate Holmes