Mandy Bishop is grateful to be here, as an Upper Hunter descendant. Scone was always where she came as a child when something a bit more important was up!! Excited to be supporting the Literary Festival, Mandy comes from The Wharf Revue: A Can Of Worms, current Australian tour to partake in this event. She gained a Bachelor of Music at UNE in Armidale, and then trained in Perth at the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts.

Mandy has been living and working in Sydney and New York, as an actor, singer and writer.

Recent credits include many years of the Wharf Revue for Sydney Theatre Company, where she learnt to portray Julia Gillard. She has also toured Australia with Bell Shakespeare and appeared in TV shows such as Drop Dead Weird, A Zoom With A View, Law & Order SVU, Maximum Choppage, Wednesday Night Fever and Rake.

Hattie is an emerging director, producer and writer originally from Scone, NSW who graduated from AFTRS in 2019 with a Master of Arts: Screen in Directing. Her major project, comedy-drama web series Gut Feeling won several awards internationally, including Audience Choice awards at Melbourne WebFest and Minnesota WebFest, and was picked up by ABC iview in 2020.

Since graduating, Hattie has written and directed branded content for a range of clients and agencies. She has a slate of comedy and drama projects in development with different partners and has recently established a production company, Staircase Productions. Hattie has continued to grow through attachment opportunities with directors Nash Edgerton on Mr Inbetween Season 3 and David Gould on Home & Away. She is represented as a director by Cameron’s agency.

Hattie also works as an assistant director and was the 1st AD for feature film Ellie & Abbie (& Ellie’s Dead Aunt) and CJZ film Rocky & Me, which she also helped produce. Recently she
worked as 2nd AD on The Moth Effect and Limitless with Chris Hemsworth. Hattie also has 10 years experience as an impact producer for feature documentaries.

Corey is a Kamilaroi man from Nowra on the New South Wales south coast. As a kid, he dreamed of becoming a zookeeper and in high school he developed a love of STEM subjects. But unlike the arts and sport, he found there was little encouragement for Aboriginal people to pursue careers in STEM. In 2018, while working as a research assistant for the University of Sydney, Corey founded DeadlyScience, a not-for-profit organisation that aims to provide science books and telescopes to remote schools in Australia, and connects young Indigenous people with mentors to encourage their participation in STEM subjects. In 2020, Corey was named the NSW Young Australian of the Year, and a Human Rights Hero by the Australian Human Rights Commission. He continues to work tirelessly to send STEM resources to Indigenous communities, and show First Nations kids that STEM is for them. The organisation has even attracted international attention, with Corey presenting at Harvard and Oxford universities.

Amanda Woods started working life as broadcast journalist and producer at the likes of the BBC, ABC, and SBS. In a classic ‘do what you love’ move, she then shifted gears to become a travel writer and has shared tales from around the world in a range of national and international titles including Escape, Mindfood, Vacations & Travel and The Telegraph (UK).

Amanda has her own travel site, Adventures All Around, and also helped to create the Rock Pools of Sydney book, providing the words to go with photographer Vincent Rommelaere’s images.

Michael Burge is an Australian journalist, author and artist who lives at Deepwater on Ngarabal Country in the New England region of NSW.

His debut novel Tank Water is a coming-of-age crime thriller set in the bush. His non-fiction debut Questionable Deeds: Making a stand for equal love lifted the lid on familial, institutional and government homophobia in Australia.

Michael is director of the annual High Country Writers Festival at Glen Innes.

Lucy Bingle is the CEO of, Australia’s leading LinkedIn agency. Lucy’s team of experts help clients harness the power of LinkedIn.

They work with CEOs, Directors, and industry leaders connecting organisations to their target audience through thought leadership.

Lucy is also the Founder of LinkedInduction (, an on-demand LinkedIn training program for employees. Lucy is passionate about aligning employees to their brand and giving them the tools and training to help attract top talent and support the brand strategy on LinkedIn.

David W. Cameron is a Canberra based author. He has written several books on Australian military and convict history and human and primate evolution including over 50 internationally peer reviewed papers for various journals and book chapters. He received 1st Class Honours in Prehistoric Archaeology at the University of Sydney and later went on to complete his Ph.D. in palaeoanthropology at the Australian National University. He is a former Australian Research Council (ARC) Postdoctoral Fellow at the Australian National University (School of Archaeology) and an ARC QEII Fellow at the University of Sydney (Department of Anatomy and Histology). He has participated and led several international fieldwork teams in Australia, the Middle East (Turkey, Jordan, Israel, and the United Arab Emirates); Europe (Hungary) and Asia (Japan, Vietnam and India) and participated in many conferences and museum studies throughout the world.

Jonathan Biggins is an actor, writer and director, perhaps best known as one of the creators of the long-running political satire The Wharf Revue.

His other writing credits include seven years as a columnist for Fairfax’s Good Weekend Magazine and the books As it Were, The 700 Habits of Highly Ineffective People, The 700 Habits of Highly Ineffective Parents and iKevin. His plays and musicals include Australia Day, Talk, The Republic of Myopia, Living in the ‘70s, The State of the Tasmanian Economy, Three Men and a Baby Grand and his one-man show The Gospel According to Paul. He also co-wrote an adaptation of the libretto of Orpheus in the Underworld for Opera Australia. Directing credits include Talk, Australia Day, Noises Off, Jospehine Wants to Dance, Orpheus in the Underworld and Avenue Q, for which he won a Helpmann Award.

Acting credits include Travesties, Essington Lewis: I am Work, The White Guard, Summer Rain, The Importance of Being Ernest, Ying Tong, The Venetian Twins and the film A Few Best Men.

Jonathan was awarded an OAM for his services to theatre in 2021.

Zanni Louise has been writing stories since she was little, growing up in Inverell, NSW. Six-year-old Zanni used to get in trouble for staring at people and making up stories about having a donkey. Grown-up Zanni has turned her love for people and make-believe into a writing career.

Author of over twenty kids’ books, including bestselling picture book series like HumanKind and Errol, Zanni writes and draws every day and hopes she will keep going until she’s too old to hold a pen. Zanni teaches picture book writing at the Australian Writers Centre and tours schools and festivals across Australia inspiring kids to write.

Zanni is proud to be a Room to Read ambassador.


Many people want to be an astronaut when they grow up. Not me. I wanted to be a business journalist ever since my Dad used to bring home the Australian Financial Review when I was a kid. I couldn’t understand a word of it, but I would still try to decipher what was written. So it’s a privilege to now write for the AFR, as well as a huge number of other publications in Australia and overseas including The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, Company Director, In the Black and Forge. I edit Listed@ASX and used to publish a weekly small business column called The Big Idea which appeared in the Fairfax metropolitan mastheads.


Troy Bramston is a senior writer and columnist with The Australian. He has interviewed politicians, presidents and prime ministers from multiple countries along with writers, historians, actors, filmmakers and several notable pop-culture icons. He is an award-winning and best-selling author or editor of 10 books, including Robert Menzies: The Art of Politics and Paul Keating: The Big-Picture Leader. He co-authored The Truth of the Palace Letters and The Dismissal with Paul Kelly. His biography of Bob Hawke is released in March.


Darren is a Serial Podcaster, Strategist, Trainer, Coach, Keynote Speaker and Student of Human Attention.

He started heavily utilising the Power of Podcasting to build his photography business and was so amazed with the results he never looked back! He is now a Podcast Junkie who consults with organisations to help them get serious business results integrating Podcasting into their marketing strategy.


Jon has been a lover of bush poetry since primary school particularly Banjo Paterson, which he recites whenever the opportunity arises. He has been active in various poetry groups, participated in the Bush Poets’ Breakfast and the Horse Festival plus other country events. He’s a keen horseman and a member of the Light Horse, and likes to recite poetry about the mighty horse.


Sami Bayly is an award-winning natural history illustrator based in Armidale, NSW, who loves all things weird and wonderful. Sami’s first book, The Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Ugly Animals, won the Children’s Indie Book of the Year Award and the Australian Book Design Award for Younger Readers. She finds the beauty and importance of all animals regardless of their appearance, and hopes to share her appreciation with others.


Dan Bourchier grew up in the outback Northern Territory mining town of Tennant Creek and began reporting for the local newspaper when he was 14, going on to work for the NT News. His younger years in Tennant Creek, together with his coastal Victorian Aboriginal heritage, have instilled in him a deep interest in the culture, history and social justice issues of Australia’s First Nation people.

From 2010 he was with National Indigenous Television (NITV) in Sydney and Canberra before moving to Darwin in 2012 to join Sky News as its NT bureau chief. In that role he covered stories including the fourth inquest into the death of Azaria Chamberlain, US President Barack Obama’s visit to the Top End and the subsequent deployment of US Marines to the Territory.

He was the first to announce the rolling of NT Chief Minister Terry Mills, breaking the news on air while the Cabinet was still in discussion. Most recently he was Political Reporter and National Indigenous Affairs Correspondent for Sky News based in Canberra.


Nardi Simpson is a Yuwaalaraay writer, musician, composer and educator from North West NSW freshwater plains. A founding member of Indigenous folk duo Stiff Gins, Nardi has been performing nationally and internationally for 20 years.

Her debut novel, Song of the Crocodile, was the 2018 winner of the black&write! Fellowship. Since then, it has been shortlisted for the Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards for Indigenous Writing; the Indie Book Awards for Debut Novel; the NSW Premiers’ Literary Awards for the UTS Glenda Adams Award for New Writing; as well as longlisted for the Stella Prize; Miles Franklin Award; and ABIA Literary Fiction Book of the Year.

Nardi is currently undertaking a PhD in composition at the Australian National University, researching the traditions of song and story in her beloved Yuwaalaraay homelands.


Erina Reddan is an award-winning journalist. She worked as foreign correspondent with the ABC and won a prestigious Walkley award for her broadcast work. She has worked across radio and television and now trains people in communication skills. Erina lives in Melbourne.


Emma A. Jane – formerly published as Emma Tom – is an Associate Professor at UNSW Sydney. Her research specialties are diverse and include gender, misogyny on the internet, the future of work, and the social and ethical impacts of emerging technology. She has presented the findings of her research to the Australian Human Rights Commission, the Australian government’s Workplace Gender Equality Agency, and the Festival of Dangerous Ideas at the Sydney Opera House.

Prior to her career in academia, Emma spent nearly 25 years working in the print, broadcast, and electronic media. Over the course of her working life, she has received multiple awards and prizes for her scholarly work, her journalism, and her fiction. This is her eleventh book. On the weekends, she makes GIFs of her dogs, fools around with Excel macros, and reads books about how to read books by Wittgenstein. She really is quite the nerd.


Joanne Fedler is an internationally bestselling author of 14 books which have sold over 750 000 copies worldwide. She is a writing mentor, women’s rights activist, open water ocean swimmer. Her book Things Without A Name has been optioned for a TV mini-series. She runs writing retreats for women and has online writing courses including Writing as Medicine for the Soul on the Insight Timer app. She has co-authored Gagman (Brio books, 2022) with her father, political cartoonist Dov Fedler.


Journalist Tim Elliott grew up in a seemingly happy household in 1970s Sydney, with a loving stay-at-home mother, his doctor father, and three siblings. Tim’s father, Max, was a former rugby union player for Australia, and a senior surgeon at a major hospital. He had bi-polar disorder, which meant his moods were black and dangerous; but he could also be charismatic, loud, funny and generous. As a child, Tim learned how to read his father’s terrifying moods, and protect himself and his mother. His book, Farewell To The Father – A Memoir Of Love And Madness is this story.

Tim is also regarded as one of the best travel writers in Australia today, whose award-winning work has appeared in publications all over the world, including London’s The Financial Times, The Sunday Times, The Sydney Morning Herald and The Australian Financial Review. His first book, The Bolivian Times, published by Random House in 2001, is an account of six months he spent working on an English-language paper in South America.

Tim has won several awards, including the Australian Society of Magazine Editors Best Feature award in 1998. In 2002 he won the Australian Society of Travel Writers Journalist of the Year award, and was runner up in 2003.


An avid reader from childhood, Paula J Beavan grew up on a small property in the Hunter Valley, riding horses, mustering cattle and listening to the tales of local farriers, cattlemen and farmers. Her love of the land and its history together with a curiosity about the challenges faced by the pioneering women of the region led her to seek out stories of the area’s founding settlers. Serendipitously she discovered a family connection to William Harpur, local landowner and one of Australia’s early surveyors. Inspired by this connection she delved deeper to discover when William Harpur lost his sight his wife Catherine managed their Hunter River property––a perfect illustration of the women she writes about.

Tim has won several awards, including the Australian Society of Magazine Editors Best Feature award in 1998. In 2002 he won the Australian Society of Travel Writers Journalist of the Year award, and was runner up in 2003.


Gabrielle Chan has been a journalist for more than 30 years. She has been a political journalist and politics live blogger at Guardian Australia since 2013. Prior to that she worked at The Australian, ABC radio, The Daily Telegraph, in local newspapers and politics. Gabrielle has written and edited history books, biographies and even a recipe book. The daughter of a Singaporean migrant, Gabrielle moved from the Canberra press gallery to marry a sheep and wheat farmer in 1996 – the year Pauline Hanson was first elected to federal parliament. She noticed the economic and cultural divide between the city and the country, the differences in political culture and yawning gap between the parliament and small town life.


Greg Mullins AO AFSM became a major national figure in the 2019–20 bushfire crisis – Australia’s longest, hottest and most devastating on record. From being a volunteer firefighter then a career firefighter, he is an internationally recognised expert in responding to major bushfires and natural disasters.

During his 39-year career he served as President, Vice President and Board Chair of the Australasian Fire & Emergency Service Authorities’ Council, Deputy Chair of the NSW State Emergency Management Committee, Australian Director of the International Fire Chiefs Association of Asia, NSW representative on the Australian Emergency Management Committee, Australian representative on the UN’s International Search & Rescue Advisory Group, and as a member of the NSW Bushfire Coordinating Committee. He is currently Chair of the NSW Ambulance Service Advisory Board.

In early 2019 he formed Emergency Leaders for Climate Action, a coalition of 34 former fire and emergency service chiefs from throughout Australia. They tried to warn the federal government of an impending bushfire disaster, were ignored, but continue to explain how climate change is super-charging the bushfire problem and why urgent action is needed on greenhouse emissions.


Jeff Sparrow is a writer, editor, broadcaster, and Walkley award-winning journalist. He is a columnist for The Guardian Australia, a former Breakfaster at Melbourne’s 3RRR, and a past editor of Overland literary journal. His most recent books are Fascists Among Us: online hate and the Christchurch massacre; Trigger Warnings: political correctness and the rise of the right; and No Way But This: in search of Paul Robeson. He lectures at the Centre for Advancing Journalism at the University of Melbourne.


Rachel Doyle SC is a barrister practising in Melbourne. She has been at the Victorian Bar since 1996 and was appointed Senior Counsel in 2009. She specialises in industrial and employment law, discrimination law, class actions and negligence. She has appeared in a number of royal commissions and inquiries, including as one of the counsel assisting team in the Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission in 2009. She has a Bachelor of Arts and an Honours degree in law from Adelaide University. She was associate to Justice Daryl Dawson of the High Court from 1994 to 1996.


Nicole Alexander’s novels, poetry, travel, creative writing and genealogy articles have been published in Australia, America, Singapore, New Zealand, Germany, Russia and Canada. She is the author of ten bestselling historical novels, set predominantly in Australia. Nicole’s debut novel, The Bark Cutters was shortlisted for an Australian Book Industry Award and she holds a Master of Letters in creative writing. Nicole is Chair 2021 ARA Historical Novel Prize Australasia. Her latest book, The Last Station, which focuses on an impoverished grazing family and is set during the dwindling of the paddle-steamer industry on the Darling River in the 1900s, will be released in March, 2022.


Nicole Abadee has worked in the book industry for many years after over a decade as a barrister. She writes about books for Good Weekend, and is also a regular contributor to their much-loved Two of Us column. She appears regularly as a facilitator at writers’ festivals and literary events. She also has a podcast, Books, Books, Books in which she interviews top Australian an international writers about their latest books.


Jean-Paul Bell is nothing but diverse. He has had a successful and fulfilling life in comedy, theatre and film as well as being Australia’s only Humanitarian with his work in both health I’m Australia and visiting war torn countries. He is also a professional speaker which includes emceeing for conferences in both the health and corporate sector.

Being a mime originally he believes he is perfect for the role of emcee for the Scone Literary Festival.

One critic described Jean-Paul as the best mime he had ever heard.

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