As our Patron, Phillip Adams says, “we punch above our weight.”

Our literary links are very strong indeed to literary geniuses of the ilk of Patrick White, Australia’s only Nobel Laureate (for Literature), and Judith Wright, who was nominated for the 1967 Nobel Prize for Literature.  Other notable, if not famous authors and writers, who have strong links to the Upper Hunter Valley, include Barbara Baynton, Donald Horne and Mark Twain.

Barbara Baynton, born in Gundy, was an Australian author of the same period as Henry Lawson and was part the Bush Realism School of the 1890s fostered by the Sydney Bulletin. A pioneer in feminist literature, Baynton was successful businesswoman, a campaigner for women’s rights, and a renowned socialite.

Best known for “A Lucky Country,” Donald Horne was born in the Upper Hunter becoming one of Australia’s best known public intellectuals. A journalist, writer, social critic, and academic, Horne published four novels and more than twenty volumes of history, memoir and political and cultural analysis. He also edited The Bulletin, The Observer and Quadrant.

American writer and humourist, Mark Twain visited Scone as part of his 1895 world tour giving a talk on ‘morals’ for the Scone School of Arts.  Although Twain planned a much more extensive visit, Scone remains the farthest north he reached on his Australian journey.  At the conclusion of his talk, which, according to a report in the Scone Advocate, was punctuated with “droll sayings and humour,” he recited his new Australian poem – “A SWELTERING DAY IN AUSTRALIA.”

Nor surprising then that SLF has a strong poetry theme with pop-up poets featured throughout the three-day Festival, and introduced in 2018, the Bush Poet’s Breakfast to kick-off the Sunday program.

Mark Twain visited Scone as part of his 1895 world tour

Mark Twain visited Scone as part of his 1895 world tour and recited his new Australian poem “A Sweltering day in Australia”.

History of Scone Literary Festival

In 2013, a group of like-minded individuals decided to invite some authors to discuss their books over a series of literary lunches. Members from local writers’ groups in the Upper Hunter were invited to the discussions and the idea for a literary long weekend was put into action. It was incorporated in January 2015.

Now a three-day festival held in the second weekend in March, SLF gets bigger and better each passing year. Previous authors have included Don Watson, Peter FitzSimons, Hugh Mackay, Graham Simsion, Ross Coulthart, David Marr, Barry Jones, Tracey Spicer, plus numerous Walkley award winning journalists, including Kate McClymont.

Indicative of its standing SLF was ranked in 2018, for the first time, in Qantas prestigious list of 101 things to do; up with the giants of the festival world – Floriade in Canberra, MONA FOMA in Tasmania.

The Upper Hunter Shire Council has been a key supporter of SLF from inception and we are honoured to have its ongoing support.

Don Watson

Don Watson, guest author
2016 Scone Literary Festival


(To be read soft and low, with the lights turned down.)

The Bombola faints in the hot Bowral tree,
Where fierce Mullengudgery’s smothering fires
Far from the breezes of Coolgardie
Burn ghastly and blue as the day expires;

And Murriwillumba complaineth in song
For the garland bowers of Woolloomooloo,
And the Ballarat Fly and the lone Wollongong
They dream of the gardens of Jamberoo;

The wallaby sighs for the Murrubidgee,
For the velvety sod of the Munno Parah,
Where the waters of healing from Muloowurtie
Flow dim in the gloaming by Yaranyackah;

The Koppio sorrows for lost Wolloway,
And sigheth in secret for Murrurundi,
The Whangeroo wombat lamenteth the day
That made him an exile from Jerrilderie;

The Teamamute Tumut from Wirrega’s glade,
The Nangkita swallow, the Wallaroo swan,
They long for the peace of the Timaru shade
And they balmy soft airs, O sweet Mittagong!

The Kooringa buffalo pants in the sun,
The Kondoparinga lies gaping for breath,
The Kongorong Camaum to the shadow has won,
But the Goomeroo sinks in the slumber of death;

In the weltering hell of the Moorooroo plain
The Yatala Wangary withers and dies,
And the Worrow Wanilla, demented with pain,
To the Woolgoolga woodlands despairingly flies;

Sweet Nangwarry’s desolate, Coonamble wails,
And Tungkillo Kuito in sables is drest,
For the Whangerei winds fall asleep in the sails
And the Booleroo life-breeze is dead in the west.

Mypongo, Kapunda, O slumber no more
Yankalilla, Parawirra, be warned
There’s death in the air!
Killanoola, wherefore
Shall the prayer of Penola be scorned?

Cootamundra, and Takee, and Wakatipu,
Toowoomba, Kaikoura are lost
From Onkaparinga to far Oamaru
All burn in this hell’s holocaust!


Parammatta and Binnum are gone to their rest
In the vale of Tapanni Taroom,
Kawakawa, Ddeniliquin – all that was best
In the earth are but graves and a tomb!

Narrandera mourns, Cameron answers not
When the roll of the scathless we cry
Tangariro, Goodiwindi, Wollundunga, the spot


Mark Twain