Sophie Masson AM
Born in Indonesia of French parents, and brought up in France and Australia, Sophie is the award winning and internationally-published author of over 60 books for children, young adults and adults. Her latest books (all 2019) include a historical novel for older readers, War and Resistance (Scholastic Australia), as well as three picture books, There’s a Tiger Out There (illustrated by Ruth Waters, Little Hare); On my Way (illustrated by Simon Howe, Scholastic Australia) and Join the Armidale Parade (illustrated by Kathy Creamer, Little Pink Dog Books). A former Chair of the Australian Society of Authors and current Chair of the New England Writers’ Centre, Sophie is a recent (2019) PhD graduate from the University of New England, and a founding partner and publishing director of acclaimed children’s book publisher, Christmas Press.
Sophie Masson AM
Samantha (Sam) is a writer of children’s, young adult and adult fiction. Her most recent adult novel, The Happiness Jar, won the ACT Writing and Publishing Award for Fiction, among several other award nominations. Samantha’s picture book, The Day We Built the Bridge, was published by Midnight Sun in February 2019 and Our Bush Capital, a children’s book about Canberra, is due out February 2020. Samantha has a Masters in Creative Writing, and is currently a recipient of arts ACT funding, writing a children’s book on a little known moment in regional NSW history – Albury’s contribution to the 1934 MacRobertson Air Race. Other titles include Cappuccino Diva, The Blue Polar Bear and The Flying Dream. Originally from Western Australia, she now makes her home in the ACT.
Kathy is a children’s illustrator and writer who has been published by Oxford University Press, Reed International, Julia Gabriel Communications, September 21, Christmas Press, Second Look and other organisations. She has an MA in Children’s Book Illustration from the renowned Cambridge School of Art at Anglia Ruskin University in England. Kathy has also run her own successful publishing company in the UK, where she published over eighteen picture books for a range of high net-worth private clients. Having immigrated to Australia twelve years ago, she recently moved to Armidale, and with her husband Peter, has set up Little Pink Dog Books Children’s Publishing.
Damien first captured the hearts of the Australian public in the 2006 reality television show Australian Idol which he went on to win. Since then he has enjoyed platinum selling albums and multiple awards including ARIAs, MTV Australia Video Music Awards, Helpman Awards, won 2016 APRA Songwriter of the Year, 2017 APRA Golden Guitar winner for song of the year with Travis Collins (Call Me Crazy). In addition to his incredible musical successes, he has also hosted multiple television shows, published two novels with Harper Collins; One More Time (2007) and Remember June (2009). He has released his own kids storytime app called ‘Bedtime Stories’ which has over 14 original stories he told his own children and he recently wrote and filmed his very first screen play which he stars in; ‘Just Ruby’ is a full feature film and will be released mid-2020. He is now an Upper Hunter local and is breakfast radio co-host with Stolzy on 98.1 Power FM.
Richard Anderson is a second-generation farmer from northern New South Wales. He has been running a beef-cattle farm for twenty-five years, but has also worked as a miner and had a stint on the local council. Richard is the author of two rural-crime novels, Retribution and Boxed, both published by Scribe. He lives with his wife, four dogs, and a cat.
A fourth-generation grazier, Nicole Alexander returned to her family’s property in the early 1990s. She is currently the business manager there. Nicole has a Master of Letters in creative writing and her novels, poetry, travel and genealogy articles have been published in Australia, Germany, America and Singapore. She is the author of nine novels: The Bark Cutters, A Changing Land, Absolution Creek, Sunset Ridge, The Great Plains, Wild Lands, River Run, An Uncommon Woman and Stone Country.
One of Australis’s most respected journalists with six Walkley awards including the Gold Walkley and the Walkley for the outstanding leadership in journalism. In a career spanning more than fifty years, Kerry has worked for newspapers, television and a wire service, and as a foreign correspondent. Thirty-three years of those years were at the ABC where he cut his teeth on the trail-blazing current affairs programs, This Day Tonight and Four Corners. He was the inaugural presenter of Lateline for six years and presenter of 7.30 for 15 years, and the presenter for Four Corners for five. His acclaimed four-part interview series with former Prime Minister, Paul Keating led to his best-selling book, Keating. Kerry has honorary doctorates from the University of Queensland and the Queensland University of Technology.
Phillip Adams AO FAHA FRSA
One of Australia’s 100 national living treasures, Phillip has a long and distinguished career as author, broadcaster, humourist and journalist. Wikipedia describes him as an “Australian humanist, social commentator, public intellectual and farmer.” He hosts Late Night Live Radio National four nights a week and he also writes a weekly column for The Weekend Australian. Phillip has had careers in advertising and film production and has served on many non-profit boards including WikiLeaks, Greenpeace Australia, Ausflag, Care Australia, Film Victoria, National Museum of Australia, both the Adelaide and Brisbane festivals of ideas, the Montsalvat Arts Society and the Don Dunstan Foundation. He is Patron of the Scone Literary Festival.
Fr Rod Bower
A passionate and outspoken advocate for social justice, The Venerable Rod Bower is an Anglican priest, Rector of Gosford where he has served for 20 years and Archdeacon for Justice Ministries and Chaplaincy in the Diocese of Newcastle. He is an ambassador for the Refugee Council of Australia and serves on the board of the Samaritans Foundation. Fr. Rod received the 2016 Doha International Award for Interfaith Dialogue and was named Abyssinian of the year by the Muslim Community and was a finalist nominee for the 2018 Human Rights Medal. He is the author of ‘Outspoken’.
Dr Matt Beard
Matt is a moral philosopher with a background in applied and military ethics. He has taught philosophy and ethics at university for several years, and has been extensively published in academic journals, book chapters and is a sought after speaker at both national and international conferences. In 2016, Matt won the Australasian Association of Philosophy prize for media engagement, recognising his “prolific contribution to public philosophy”. He is columnist with New Philosopher magazine and ABC Life, and a podcaster on the ABC’s Short & Curly program, an award-winning children’s ethics podcast.
Georgie is a journalist, author, former lawyer and one of the leading voices for women in Australia. She is the contributing editor of Women’s Agenda, a columnist in The Sun Herald & The Age on Sunday, contributes to Marie Claire, appears regularly on television and is a passionate advocate for gender equality and mental health. She has appeared on Radio National, ABC’s Lateline, The Drum, Channel 9’s Today Show, Weekend Sunrise, The Project, Studio 10 and Sky News. In May 2019 her first book, a memoir titled Breaking Badly – her raw and honest account of falling apart – was published and was reprinted on the same day due to ‘unprecedented’ demand.
David is a Walkley award winning Australian journalist, author, public interviewer and writing mentor. A former Middle East and North American correspondent, he has been a journalist for 40 years and became widely known in Australia for his in-depth profiles and stories on social and political issues. He has interviewed everyone from Meryl Streep and Ayaan Hirsi Ali to Gina Rinehart, Alan Jones and the Dalai Lama. David is the recipient of numerous awards for his journalism and his memoir ‘To Begin To Know: Walking in the Shadows of my Father’, was short-listed for the National Biography Award in 2015. David’s new book Women, Men and the Whole Damn Thing – about toxic masculinity in the age of #MeToo – was published by popular demand by Allen & Unwin in August 2019.
A passionate advocate of real food, regional living and sustainable agriculture, Paul is trained as a chef and has worked in all areas of food production, from growing fruit and vegetables, to cooking in the bistro of Melbourne’s renowned Vue de Monde. Having turned his back on haute cuisine Paul has since become the poster boy for sustainable farming and organic food. You might have seen him on River Cottage Australia and ABC’s Gardening Australia. His book, The Edible Garden Cookbook & Growing Guide, was released in 2019 to great acclaim. There are more than 50 of West’s favourite family recipes in the book. He returns ‘home’ for the Festival, having been born and raised in the Upper Hunter at Murrurundi.
Matthew has worked in the food industry for over 30 years. He is the author of 12 food books and a widely published feature writer. His latest books are On Eating Meat, a manifesto on ethical eating, and The Commons, a cook book exploring the real-life joys of farm life over the seasons. He is a chef by trade, an advocate for sustainable seafood and is a strong believer in knowing and trusting what you eat; Fat Pig Farm is an extension of this philosophy. Matthew is the presenter of the SBS television show Gourmet Farmer and the two documentary series What’s the Catch? and For the Love of Meat.
Gillian (Gill) is an agricultural powerhouse. Not only is she pioneering regenerative practices on Bibbaringa, her cattle farm near Albury, she is coordinating Earth Canvas, a major artistic project that brings together artists to work with regenerative farmers with an exhibition slated for the National Gallery. Gillian believes healthy people and communities stem from healthy soil, and she is a passionate advocate for what regenerative agriculture can do to improve food production. She has always been passionate about working with nature to produce a livelihood – working as a jillaroo, journalist, wool producer, wool manufacturer, and now regenerative farmer who has planted over 60000 trees on Bibbaringa.
Julian is an author, journalist, editor and science communicator. He is principal of Julian Cribb & Associates who provide specialist consultancy in the communication of science, agriculture, food, mining, energy and the environment. His career includes appointments as newspaper editor, scientific editor for The Pic credit: J. Carl Ganter Australian newspaper, director of national awareness for Australia’s science agency CSIRO, member of numerous scientific boards and advisory panels, and president of national professional bodies for agricultural journalism and science communication. His published work includes over 8000 articles, 3000 media releases and eight books. He has received 32 awards for journalism. His internationally-acclaimed book, The Coming Famine explores the question of whether we can feed humanity through the mid century peak in numbers and food demand.
A prolific writer, Gideon is an English-born Australian journalist who writes about sport (especially cricket) and business. In his journalistic career, he has contributed to over 70 newspapers and magazines, writing for The Age, The Australian, The Guardian, The Times and the Financial Times. Haigh has authored 19 books and edited seven more. He’s written about the history of cricket including The Cricket War and Summer Game, biographies including Mystery Spinner (of Jack Iverson), which was The Cricket Society’s “Book of the Year”, short-listed for the William Hill Sports Book of the Year and dubbed “a classic” by The Sunday Times. His business-related topics include The Battle for BHP, Asbestos House and Bad Company. Haigh won the John Curtin Prize for Journalism in the Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards in 2006 for his essay “Information Idol: How Google is making us stupid”, which was published in The Monthly magazine. His most book, Crossing the Line: How Australian Cricket Lost Its Way discusses the ball tampering scandal.
One the leaders in the popular wave of Australian crime writers with a major award, a Dagger, under his belt for his debut novel, Scrublands. Chris has been a journalist for over twenty-five years working as an international correspondent for SBS TV’s flagship current affairs program Dateline, the chief political correspondent for The Bulletin and a senior political journalist for The Age. His non-fiction book, The River, published by Melbourne University Publishing in 2010 to critical acclaim, was the recipient of the ACT Book of the Year Award and was shortlisted for the Walkley Book Award and the Manning Clark House National Cultural Award.
A celebrated crime novelist, Emma is a classically trained clarinettist who performed with José Carreras and Dame Kiri Te Kanawa. She is author of the critically acclaimed Caleb Zelic series. Resurrection Bay won the 2016 Ned Kelly Award for Best First Fiction, as well as an unprecedented three Davitt Awards: Best Adult Novel, Best Debut, and Readers’ Choice. It was iBooks Australia’s Crime Novel of the Year and was shortlisted for the UK Crime Writers’ Association Gold Dagger and New Blood awards. Its sequel, And Fire Came Down, won the 2018 Davitt Award for Best Novel.
Chief Justice Greg James QC, AM
Chief Justice Greg James, one of the youngest Queen’s Counsel ever appointed in NSW, is recognised as one of Australia’s leading Appellate Court Counsel. A very prominent Criminal Counsel, James has been involved in some of the most notorious trials in Australia. They include the legal proceedings in the aftermath of the 1970 Bathurst Gaol Riots; as well as lead counsel for the Bandidos Motorcycle Club during the Milperra Massacre, one of the largest single trials in Australian history. James was also involved in prosecuting Nazi war crime cases – the only cases brought against suspected Nazi war criminals in Australia. He was appointed as a part-time Commissioner for the NSW Law Reform Commission and Counsel for Veterans during the Royal Commission into British nuclear tests in Australia. In 2012 he was appointed as a Member of General Division of the Order of Australia (AM) for services to judicial education, mental health law reform, international relations and administration of criminal justice.
Jamelle Wells is an ABC television and radio Newsreader and the Senior Court Reporter for New South Wales. She works across television, radio and online. Jamelle has covered some of Australia’s highest profile cases including the ICAC inquiries into former NSW Labor Government Ministers, the Gordon Wood, Keli Lane and Jeffrey Gilham murder trials, Australia’s longest running terrorism trial and the church sex abuse inquiries. She has also covered cases involving billionaire Gina Rinehart and the trial of singer Leonard Cohen’s former partner Keli Lynch in Los Angeles. Before Jamelle joined the ABC in 2002 she was a Newsreader for stations including 2GB and 2WS and the editor of My Business Success magazine. She is author of The Court Reporter, ABC Books.
In 1986 she gave up a high-profile career with the Special Broadcasting Service (SBS) and Nine Network where she co-hosted Today, to live on the land and run a 4,000 hectare (40 km²) property, known as Elmswood, in the Hunter Region, New South Wales. Patrice is an advocate for sustainable agriculture which she talks about in her books The Olive Grove, The River, Ten Thousand Acres – A Love Story, Tree to Table: Cooking with Australian Olive Oil and Who’s Minding the Farm, in this climate emergency. Patrice earned her doctorate at the University of Newcastle in Environmental Science: A strategic assessment of the potential for a new pyrolysis industry in the Hunter Valley. She is a Conjoint Fellow at University of Newcastle; founding member and president of the Hunter Olive Association; president Hunter Waterkeeper.
Magdalena is a novelist, poet, reviewer, interviewer, and the editor of Compulsive Reader. She has been widely published in literary journals, anthologies, and is the author of several books of poetry and fiction, the latest of which is Unreliable Narratives published in 2019 by Girls on Key Press. In addition to her writing, Magdalena is a Research Support Lead for a multinational company, and regardless of what she’s doing, will usually be found with a book or two in one form or another, sneaking time for reading.
Richard Glover’s most recent book is “The Land Before Avocado: Journeys in a lost Australia” It’s been described by Hugh Mackay as “warm, wise and very, very funny”, and by Annabel Crabb as “Hilarious and horrifying, the ultimate intergenerational conversation starter’. Richard is also author of “Flesh Wounds – a comic romp for anyone whose family was not what they ordered.” He writes regularly for the Sydney Morning Herald and The Washington Post, and presents the comedy show Thank God It’s Friday on ABC local radio.
Stiff Gins combine stunning harmonies and wicked senses humour to transport listeners to a world of joy, spirit and song. Their moniker is a reclamation of an offensive reference to Aboriginal women, a banner to guide their music in the direction of strength and pride. Three albums and countless breathtaking shows later, the name has become synonymous with musical excellence. Fresh off the stage from their epic visual theatre project Spirit of Things: Sound of Objects they are forging forward. In their twentieth year they soar into their most intriguing music making yet with a new recording and sound design project in the works.
Kate was born and raised on a property east of Scone. After completing her studies, she commenced practising as a solicitor in Scone and has done so now for over 20 years, the last 7 years as a sole practitioner. Her other life involves assisting her husband run their thoroughbred broodmare farm just out of Scone. This additional “career” has resulted in an ever increasing interest in the complex and sometimes controversial but always fascinating thoroughbred racing and breeding industry.
Having had the pleasure of delivering a “Winx Oration” during the Horse Festival in Scone in 2019, Kate is delighted and honoured to be hosting a discussion with Andrew Rule. In her spare time of which there is little, Kate attempts to finish reading her current book club book!
Andrew’s rural links are strong. Not only did his writing career kick start with a winning essay from a country Agricultural Society, he was born and raised in the country – rural Victoria. That $5 prize from the country show saw him into a newspaper job and he’s been writing for living almost ever since. Not only has Andrew written one of the most famous biographies – the celebrated equine athlete – he’s won a Gold Walkley and Gold Quill, been judged Graham Perkin Journalist of the Year and inspired highly acclaimed television series – Chopper and Underbelly. His prolific journalistic career has seen him cover the biggest and smallest of stories, from Port Arthur massacre, the Ash Wednesday and Black Saturday bush fires to the war in Afghanistan and the Bali bombing, picnic race meetings and the London Olympics. He claims to be the only award-winning journalist in Australia to have ridden the winner of a horse race!
Jessica (Jess) is currently a lecturer in Sport Management in the School of Business at Western Sydney University. Her research and teaching interests broadly focus on the sociology of sport and sport business management with a particular emphasis on sport fandom, sports marketing and stadium geography. She is currently a reviewer for journals in the field of sports, sports management and social research and sits on the board for the Western Sydney Academy of Sport.
Helene is employed by the Diocese Maitland Newcastle as a Family Ministry Coordinator and successfully combines her passions of faith and sport. She is also sports chaplain to Cooks Hill SLSC Helene is a sports commentator with 1233 ABC Newcastle; ABC Grandstand and also Upper Hunter ABC where she has broadened her knowledge to include polocrosse, camp drafting and information on rodeos. Her sporting background includes past Australian badminton champion; state representation in squash; Hunter rep in indoor cricket, hockey and touch football. She is a Level 2 rugby league coach and a former employee of the ARL and Newcastle Knights. Helene is the newly appointed Chair of Northern NSW Football which includes the area from the Queensland border through to the Hawksbury and all areas of western NSW. Apart from sport, sport and more sport Helene is an avid crime reader and loves live theatre as well as the great outdoors.
Jane Caro AM, is a Walkley Award winning Australian columnist, author, novelist, broadcaster, advertising writer, documentary maker, feminist and social commentator. She has published twelve books, including three novels “Just a Girl” “Just a Queen” and “Just Flesh & Blood”, a trilogy on Elizabeth Tudor, and a memoir “Plain Speaking Jane”. Her latest book “Accidental Feminists” was launched in February. Her latest documentary ‘New Dads’ screened on ABC1 in August.
Alexandra is a former editor of the Australian edition of Harper’s Bazaar and Portfolio. While occupying a number of other executive positions in the media industry, she also contributed feature articles, interviews and reviews to national and metropolitan publications. She is the author of Parade: The Story of Fashion in Australia and Best Dressed: 200 Years of Fashion in Australia. Both detail the development of fashion, style and national identity. Her recent book, Rosetta: A Scandalous True Story, has been optioned for the screen by a major US-owned production company. With an honours degree from the University of Sydney and a graduate diploma from the Australian College of Applied Psychology, she has also been a practising counsellor and psychotherapist. Alexandra has two children and lives in Sydney with her husband. She is a keen student of art, fashion, history and politics and is exceedingly fond of Paris.
Gregory (Greg) Powell
Local Hunter Valley author and retired school teacher, Greg combined his interest in bushwalking and history to explore historical and scenic regions on foot and to produce extensive books on Australia’s bushrangers. Bushranger Tracks: Beyond the Legends, follows on from his first book Bushranger Tracks (New Holland 2016) and continues his passion for Australian history and in particular, the bushranging era. The two books, now covering the five states with the most bushranger activity are the most extensive set of books detailing bushranger sites ever published.
As Food & Words founder, Barbara organises food events with a literary bent. This includes the Food & Words writers’ festival, book launches, author talks, food writing workshops and cooking classes, where the recipes and tips used are those gleaned from a lifetime of reading cookbooks. She writes about food, farmers and artisan food producers for newspapers and magazines and is a judge at the National Honey Show.
Our Partners & Sponsors
We are grateful for the support of our generous partners and sponsors.