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2017 Destination Byron Tourism Symposium Re-Cap

The theme Beyond The Byron Boom, How to Ensure Our Visitor Economy is Sustainable, allowed the local industry to come together for a one day conference at the Elements of Byron Resort and share some detail on how different sectors are working sustainably.

The event began with an introduction by Cr. Simon Richardson, who did an excellent job as MC with insight and humour, followed by Delta Kay's engaging Welcome to Country.

The program started with Stephen Mahoney and Anthony Laver of Destination NSW, presented Projections and Updates, providing visitor statistics and outlining many of the services they provide to the region's industry and businesses. 

Vanessa van Uden, a past Mayor of Queenstown New Zealand, presented a real-life experience of Queenstown Avoiding Death By Popularity. She highlighted the importance of industries working together to come up with innovative solutions, such as using sewerage charges as a bed tax alternative by charging $612 per year for the first toilet, then $306 for each additional toilet. The larger hotels end up contributing over $100,000 per year.

Liz Price discussed the Strategic Master Plan for the Great Ocean Road, which until recently went without any central management. Liz highlighted the issues they face with a fragmented industry servicing 5 million (mostly day trippers) each year. 

The 140 or so attendees then enjoyed a Local Producers Morning Tea supplied by Nimbin Valley Dairy, Salum Australia, Brookfarm and Byron Bay Cacao.

The first panel discussion was Sustainability of the Events Visitor Economy, facilitated by Cr. Simon Richardson with Jane Magnus, Jen Murphy, Mat Morris and Chris Hanley. A mature industry pointed out that better regulation and better infrastructure would help the events industry. And, the importance of event managers sharing best practice improvements amongst themselves.

Before lunch, Anthony Laver, David Jones and Brenda Miley, facilitated by Cameron Arnold, discussed Defining Brand Byron. The consensus was it's the feeling of Byron that best defined the brand, as there are beautiful beaches, great restaurants, exciting festivals, etc. all over the world - but only one Byron Bay.

A quick lunch with time to stretch before Pam Brook facilitated the Heroes of Regional Tourism discussion with Tom Lane, Brooke Hudson, Sue Walker and Jasmin Daly. They each talked about change, collaboration and the importance of allowing staff to work to their own passion.

The program ended with Delta Kay, Vanessa van Uden, Liz Price and Carly Weiland discussing How Will Byron Tackle Quality vs Quantity facilitated by Jane Laverty. The lively discussion ended up with the idea that a quality service or experience will encourage the desired quality of visitor behaviour.

The attendees finished the day with a drink supplied by Brookie's Gin and Stone & Wood, and some networking.

Overall, the theme of people and collaboration ran through every discussion, with the best, simple idea coming from Delta Kay who suggested we all greet Byron's visitors with 'Jingi Walla' (Welcome).

The Byron Writers Festival 2017 Re-Cap

This year, the Byron Writers Festival enjoyed perfect weather, an inspiring line-up, and a chilled-out atmosphere. With a myriad of thought-provoking talks and panels, festival goers were treated to 3 days of world-class political, historical, and artistic insight.

Unlike last year’s festival, the 2017 Byron Writers Festival was dry and sunny. In fact, through Friday and Saturday there was not a cloud in the sky.

Festival goers took full advantage of the warm weather, with many choosing to enjoy a picnic style lunch, a snooze in the sunshine, a quick cup of coffee, or a few minutes of quiet time with their brand new book.

Each day from 9am until 5pm, the tents came alive with discussions on all things writing. Pictured below is Tony Jones in conversation with Sarah Kanowski.

From journalism to poetry (including performance poetry by Arielle Cottingham, pictured below), historical fiction to memoir, there was something for every reader and writer.

Although much of the subject-matter discussed was quite serious, the tents and venues often erupted in laughter and applause.

Sunday – the last day of the Byron Writers Festival – was the Kids Big Day Out.

Kids met their favourite authors (include the very funny Peter Helliar), competed for book prizes, and watched hilarious performances by this year’s Sunday line-up. Even the adults were cracking up.  

Overall, the 2017 Byron Writers Festival was a unique and memorable experience. The lessons learnt, ideas debated, and viewpoints bought to light will play on our minds for weeks to come.

See you next year, Byron Writers Festival.

Markets in the Byron region this August

The Byron region is known for its community markets, and although it’s winter in Byron Bay, the sunny weather has been perfect for a stroll through the colourful stalls. Take a day trip this August to check out one of the many markets. Or, make a weekend of it and take advantage of Byron Bay’s Winter Specials.

Here’s an overview of the markets on this August.

August 5 – Brunswick Heads Markets PLUS New North Coast Village Market

Brunswick Heads is a small, picturesque town situated on the Brunswick River a short 17 minute drive from Byron Bay.

The Brunswick Heads Markets take place on the first Saturday of each month in Memorial Park. With the beautiful river as a backdrop, the many stalls offer clothing, homewares, beauty, jewellery, and more, plus delicious food and excellent coffee.

Learn more at www.byron-bay.com/markets/brunswick-heads-markets

August 5 marks the very first North Coast Village Market, which will also be held on the first Saturday of each month. Taking place in the art deco Memorial Hall (a short walk from Memorial Park), market-goers can expect a range of designer homewares, artisan jewellery, quality vintage, and a kids’ hang out.

Learn more at www.facebook.com/ncvmarket

August 6 – Byron Bay Markets

On the first Sunday of each month from 8am to 3pm, the Butler Street Reserve is transformed into a colourful display of Byron’s community spirit, with rainbows and glitter galore. With a uniquely Byron vibe, the Byron Markets offer a diverse range of handmade wares, artworks, local and imported clothing, jewellery, souvenirs, fresh produce, baked goods, and more.

Come early and stay for lunch – there’s plenty of delicious food and drink options available. Take a seat in the shade, enjoy the live entertainment, and watch the world go by.

Learn more at www.byron-bay.com/markets/byron-community-markets/

August 12 – The BYRON FLEA Market

Held on the second Saturday of the month at the Youth Activity Centre (also known as the YAC) in Byron Bay, the BYRON FLEA is unlike any market in the region. Market stalls are free for people under the age of 25, allowing young creatives to showcase their work to the public. You’ll find a variety of arts, crafts, and second-hand goods.

What’s more, all live music is performed by music students from Byron Bay High.

Learn more at www.byron-bay.com/blog/byron-flea-market/

August 13 – The New Mullum Twilight Market

Check out the Byron Shire’s newest afternoon market this August – the Mullum Twilight Market. Held at Poinciana cafe and bar in scenic Mullumbimby from 2pm to 8pm, this exciting new Eco Market will take place once every 2 weeks after August 13.

With a whole host of tasty food, boutique stalls, live entertainment (including DJs), and more, the Mullum Twilight Market is set to become a local favourite.

Join the Facebook Event at www.facebook.com/events/1398583826886273

August 13 – The Channon Market

 “Make it. Bake it. Grow it.” That’s the Channon Market’s motto. And it’s diverse collection of stalls deliver stunning handmade arts and crafts, delicious treats, fresh produce and more.

The markets take place in Coronation Park in The Channon, a hinterland village about a 45-minute drive from Byron Bay.

Learn more at thechannonmarket.org.au

August 19 – Mullumbimby Markets

On the third Saturday of the month, the Mullumbimby Markets take place in Summers Park, located on the corner of Stuart and Myocum Streets. A short 25-minute drive from Byron Bay, the Mullum Markets showcase some of the best artists, food vendors, and musicians from the Northern Rivers region.

The Mullumbimby Markets run from 9am until 2pm.

Learn more at www.mullummarkets.com.au

August 19 – Murwillumbah Makers & Finders Market

Taking place at Knox Park on Brisbane Street in lush Murwillumbah (approx. 50-minute drive from Byron Bay), this new makers and finders market showcases the very best art, craft, music, and vintage wares in the region. Discover beauty, jewellery, home wares, pottery, top quality second hand, exciting food stalls and local entertainment.

The Murwillumbah Makers & Finders Market runs from 10am to 3pm.

Learn more at www.facebook.com/makersandfindersmarkets

August 26 – Bangalow Markets

Set below the camphor laurel and fig trees, the beloved Bangalow markets are some of the best on the North Coast. On the fourth Sunday of the month, the Bangalow Showgrounds fill with over 300 stalls selling ceramics, clothing, jewellery, beauty products, fresh produce, baked goods, hot food, and great coffee.

Open from 9am until after lunch, the Bangalow Markets are a quick 20-minute drive from Byron By.

Learn more at www.byron-bay.com/markets/bangalow

Weekly Farmers Markets in the Byron Bay Region

In addition to the monthly community markets, many of the towns and villages in the region play host to their very own weekly farmers market. These provide the perfect opportunity to sample the Byron Shire’s outstanding fresh produce.

  • New Brighton Farmers Market at the New Brighton Oval, River St, New Brighton (25-minute drive from Byron Bay). Tuesdays from 8am – 11am.
  • Byron Farmers Market at Butler Street Reserve, Byron Bay. Thursdays from 8am –  11am.
  • Mullumbimby Farmers Market at the Mullumbimby Showground, 51 Main Arm Road, Mullumbimby (25-minute drive from Byron Bay). Fridays from 7am – 11am.
  • Bangalow Farmers Market at the Bangalow Hotel Carpark, 1 Byron St, Bangalow (20-minute drive from Byron Bay). Saturdays from 8am – 11am.

 

Splendour in the Grass 2017

Warm blue sky days and cool clear nights made for an easy and enjoyable Festival. 

Splendour in the Grass 2017’s line-up of over 100 acts played to a capacity 32,500 audience across four main stages - The Amphitheatre, Mix Up Stage, GW McLennan Tent and Tiny Dancer - while the festival’s campground became a home away from home to 19,500 music fans.

The music, artwork, light installations, sunny days and excess glitter helped provide colour and movement across the whole festival.

Appreciative audiences for all performances added to the energy.

Fun bars and interesting food all around - my favourite were the Mary's Burgers. All up, another excellent Splendour - I can't wait for next year!

6 Places to Stay in Byron Bay with Fire Places

Byron Bay is a winter wonderland: clear water, bright blue skies, and mild temperatures. If you’re planning to visit during the colder months, get cosy Byron style at one of these 6 places to stay with fire places.  

1. Coco’s Cottage

Escape to your private home in the lush Byron Hinterland at Coco’s Cottage. The restored 1890’s self-contained holiday house feels a world away from the hustle and bustle of town, but is only a short drive from Byron’s world-class beaches, restaurants, and night life, and Bangalow’s unique collection of shops and eateries. At the end of the day, relax, unwind, and keep warm in front of the stunning fire place.

Learn more at www.byron-bay.com/cocos

2. Toolond Plantation

Take in the panoramic ocean and mountain views at the unique Toolond Plantation guesthouse. Situated on 100 acres of private bushland 20 minutes west of Mullumbimby, the self-contained holiday home accommodates up to 8 people and welcomes pets. Escape the chilly temperatures, and cosy up in front of the log fire.

Learn more at www.byron-bay.com/toolond

3. Elements of Byron Resort & Spa

Take you winter getaway in style at Byron’s newest luxury resort, Elements of Byron. Nestled on 50 acres of absolute beachfront, enjoy all the creature comforts in the privacy of your own villa. Some rooms come with an outdoor gas fireplace, otherwise head to the main pavilion for Fire Pit Fridays.

Learn more at www.byron-bay.com/elements-byron

4. Planula Retreat

Planula Retreat is a tranquil oasis located just over 3km from the centre of Byron Bay. This bed and breakfast style retreat offers a fully equipped kitchen, spacious living area, private rooms, and access to stunning tropical gardens. In winter, guests warm up by the fire.

Learn more at www.byron-bay.com/planula

5. Azabu Nature Guesthouse

With a gourmet breakfast served fire-side, a heated spa pool, and spa treatments available, Azabu Nature Guesthouse is one of the best places to rest and relax this winter. This luxurious guesthouse is located a short 5-minute drive from Byron’s beautiful Main Beach.

Learn more at www.byron-bay.com/azabu-nature-guesthouse

6. Victoria's at Ewingsdale

Victoria’s is a multi-award-winning guesthouse set among incredible landscaped gardens just a few minutes’ drive from the centre of Byron Bay. With ocean, mountain and rural views, and a log fire to keep you warm, this elegant getaway is ideal for the colder months.

Learn more at www.byron-bay.com/ewingsdale  

Go Plastic Free this July

Join over one million people from 130 countries world-wide this July, and choose to refuse single-use plastic. Plastic Free July is a global initiative that raises awareness about the environmental impact of disposable plastics, and encourages people to start making a difference.

In 2016, the Plastic Free July project inspired a group of committed locals to begin their own Plastic Free Byron campaign. Collaborating with individuals and organisations in the Byron Shire, Plastic Free Byron continues to work to reduce plastic waste, and keep our oceans and landfill clean.

To do this, Plastic Free Byron releases actionable tips and information that helps Byron Shire residents minimise the amount of single-use plastic they use on a day-to-day basis.

The Problem with Plastics

So what’s the problem with plastics? What is Plastic Free July and Plastic Free Byron against?

  • Plastic breaks up, not down. This means that plastic pollution is permanent.
  • Even when recycled, disposable plastic is usually down-cycled. This means it’s made into a low-grade product also designed for single use, or it’s sent straight to landfill.
  • Lightweight plastics tend to escape from bins and trucks, turning into accidental litter.
  • Importantly, disposable plastics end up in our waterways. It’s vital to keep Byron’s beautiful beaches clean, and marine life healthy and happy.
  • Plastic manufacturing makes up a huge 6% of the world’s fossil fuel footprint.

The Solution to Disposable Plastic

Initiatives like Plastic Free July and Plastic Free Byron show that refusing one-time-use plastics is fairly simple. Here are some tips:

  • Avoid buying products with plastic packaging. Instead, opt for alternatives – for example, buy loose rather than wrapped fruit and veg.
  • Say no to plastic that tends to become litter, such as straws, balloons, and takeaway cups.
  • Reduce waste where possible. Get refills, and don’t forget your reusable shopping bags!
  • Always recycle when refusal is not possible.
  • Sign up to Plastic Free July and join the #choosetorefuse challenge. Share with your friends and family, and encourage them to get involved, too.

For more Plastic Free July tips, download the Plastic Free July Guidebook.

Get Involved with Plastic Free July and Plastic Free Byron

Sign up for the Plastic Free July challenge right now at www.plasticfreejuly.org

Learn more about Plastic Free Byron and their campaigns at plasticfreebyron.com

NAIDOC Week 2017 in Byron Bay

Taking place in the first week of July, NAIDOC Week is a time to celebrate the history, culture, and successes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The Byron Shire’s NAIDOC Week activities help us appreciate the rich contributions that Indigenous Australians have made and continue to make on our society.

The 2017 NAIDOC Week theme is Our Languages Matter. This theme aims to highlight the vital role language, story and song plays in cultural identity, spirituality, and the connection to land and water in the passing down of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history.

NAIDOC Week in Byron Bay will kick off on July 3 with the annual Flag Raising and Byron Shire NAIDOC Week Awards Ceremony. Starting at 10.30am at the Byron Shire Council Chambers in Mullumbimby, the symbolic flag raising will give the community an opportunity to celebrate the diverse contributions of the region’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community in areas of music, art, education, culture, sport, politics, and environment. All are welcome to this popular event.

Byron Bay NAIDOC 2017 Program

Here’s an overview of the 2017 Byron Bay NAIDOC Week program.

Flag Raising and Byron Shire NAIDOC Week Awards Ceremony

When: 10.30am, Monday, 3 July 2017

Where: Byron Shire Council Chambers, Station Street, Mullumbimby

Bundjalung Art opening

When: 5.30pm, Monday, 3 July 2017

Where: Byron Bay Surf Club, Main Beach, Byron Bay

Arakwal NAIDOC Film Night

When: 6.30pm, Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Where: Byron Community Centre, Jonson Street, Byron Bay

Learn more: iq.org.au/10th-arakwal-naidoc-week-film-screening

Family Fun Day - Celebrating NAIDOC in Mullumbimby

with Welcome to Country, Cultural Performances, Imagine the Earth, Bush Tucker Planting and Tasting, Art and Craft, Music and Dance, Kids Activity Program.

When: 11.00am – 3.00pm, Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Where: Mullumbimby Neighbourhood Centre, 55 Dalley Street, Mullumbimby

Bundjalung of Byron Bay Family Cultural Day

with Activities, Entertainment, a Cultural Showcase including Aboriginal Dancers, Music, Kids Activities and a Free BBQ.

When: 10.00am – 2.00pm, Thursday, 6 July 2017

Where: From 10am at Railway Park with a march to Denning Park, Main Beach at 11am

More NAIDOC Week Celebrations at NORPA

NORPA is hosting a number of free, family-friendly NAIDOC Week celebrations at the Lismore City Hall on Friday, 7 July and Saturday, 8 July.

The program includes live music by OKA, Billy Smith, Teddy Lewis King, and Tom Avery; dance performances by The Deadly Bunharms, Bundjalung Nini Nahri-Gali and Muggerah; Black Screen films; music workshops with Darren Compton from Move it Mob Style; basket weaving workshops; Elders storytelling and conversation panels. Uncle Mick and Aunty Thelma will be providing delicious bush tucker on both days including damper, crocodile and kangaroo curries.

Free entry – no tickets required.

Check out the full program at norpa.org.au/events/naidoc-at-norpa/

All residents and visitors of the Byron Shire and surrounds are encouraged to participate in the jam-packed NAIDOC Week program.

Join the Byron Shire NAIDOC Week Facebook Event.

7 Free Things to Do in Byron Bay

Visiting Byron on a budget? There are plenty of free things to do in Byron Bay. Check out 7 of our favourites below.

1. Watch the sunrise from Cape Byron Lighthouse

Be one of the first in Australia to watch the sunrise – there really is no better way to start the day in Byron Bay. Walk from the Wategos car park up to the iconic Cape Byron Lighthouse for breathtaking panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean and Byron Bay. As the sun rises over the water, you might be lucky enough to spot dolphins playing in the day’s first light.

2. Wander through the Byron Bay Markets

On the first Sunday of each month, the Butler Street Reserve plays host to the popular Byron Bay Markets. With a range of local and imported arts and crafts, fashion, beauty, kids’ stuff and food, the unique Byron Markets are must for any visitor to the region. Entry is free, but you’ll probably be tempted to pick up a souvenir or two (or at least a Byron Bay Organic Doughnut)!

If you're not in Byron for the first Sunday of the month, chances are there are other markets on in the Byron region. Check out our upcoming markets calendar.

3. Check out the Lone Goat Gallery

Byron Bay and surrounding regions are home to some of Australia’s most talented visual artists, so check out what’s on at the Lone Goat Gallery next time you’re in town. Located on the corner of Lawson and Middleton Street, this vibrant exhibition space is within walking distance from the centre of town.

4. Explore waterfalls near Byron Bay

Just a short drive from Byron Bay you’ll find two stunning waterfalls: Minyon Falls (about 45-minute drive) and Killen Falls (about 30-minute drive). Take the whole day to visit both. Stop for lunch at a hinterland eatery, or pack a picnic to enjoy in the scenic surrounds.

5. Sit on the beach

Byron has a lot to offer, but one of the very best ways to soak up the sights, sounds, and smells of Byron Bay is to sit on the beach and do nothing. With white sand, picturesque headlands, and crystal clear water, Byron is home to some of the world’s most stunning beaches. Swim, surf, read, sleep, or people-watch, a visit to Byron Bay is not complete without a trip to at least one of the area’s beautiful beaches.

6. Catch some live music

Byron Bay has a thriving nightlife, including venues that offer free live music everyday of the year. The Railway Friendly Bar (known as The Rails) is one such place. Located on Johnson Street, The Rails is the perfect place to meet with friends and check out the local talent.

7. Watch a free movie

Once a month, the Beach Hotel puts on a free movie night. With outdoor seating, blankets to keep you warm, and a range of movie snacks on offer, it’s the ultimate movie experience in Byron Bay. Check their Facebook Page to keep up-to-date with the next monthly movie night.

2017 Mullum Music Festival

Mullum Music Festival (MMF) is a boutique festival in Mullumbimby, a quaint but vibrant little town in the hinterland of Byron Bay, NSW. Celebrating its 10th festival in 2017, which has gradually grown from very humble beginnings since the inaugural event back in 2008 – a memorable year for Mullum with the refurbishment and renovation of the Civic Hall, the epicentre of the festival.

The unique structure of MMF creates a special community atmosphere, adding a distinct and special flavour to the event, which festival goers hold dear to their musical hearts.

The action packed program is spread across multiple venues throughout the town. The use of existing structures is a very special aspect of the festival and reinforces not only the ‘roaming community’ vibe of the event, but also the sustainability of the town both financially and environmentally – two things which the organisers work very hard to ensure.

Artists are routinely seen mingling with the crowd and jumping in as guest performers all over the festival as a part of the laid back family atmosphere and the calibre of attending artists (as both performers and punters) is nothing to sneeze at. Mullum has been blessed with the likes of The Church, Ron Sexsmith (CAN), Ajak Kwai (Sth Sudan), Montaigne, Olympia, Tash Sultana, The Basics, Elana Stone, Marlon Williams (NZ), Robert Forster, Pieta Brown (US), Nano Stern (CHILE), Mama Kin, Arte Kanella, Megan Washington, Montaigne, All our Exes Live In Texas, Sticky Fingers, Emma Donovan & The Putbacks, King Tide, Tinpan Orange, Mojo JuJu, just to name a few...

The vibrant annual street parade and Mullum’s own Magic Bus have also become favourite festival hallmarks.

Since the beginning festival organisers, Red Square Music, have worked to maintain the individuality, authenticity and integrity of the festival on a number of levels. Not only does the event support the town, its musicians and the national and global music world, but it includes several programs to reinforce and promote sustainability. One of these is The Mullum S.E.E.D. program which involves a series of educational, sustainability focused talks and workshops which take place alongside the music timetable.

The MMF also continues its commitment to nurturing youth in, not only the music industry, but in a wide range of industries, offering a unique youth mentorship program for young musicians and also a range of TED-style talks for youth which fall under the banner of The Youth Training Station (formed in 2014).

Since its inception in 2008 when opening night was very nearly rained out and people came out of the woodwork driving miles to avoid fallen trees and powerlines to support what they knew would be a worthwhile event, the festival has grown from strength to strength, evolving and transforming along the way to become one of the most successful boutique festivals in the country.

The Mullum Music Festival - November 16th - 19th 2017. Further information and tickets, visit www.mullummusicfestival.com.

Byron Writers Festival 2017 Full Program

Byron Writers Festival (4-6 August) reveals an exciting and compelling program featuring more than 130 guests. The 3-Day 2017 Festival will unfold across six stages at the stunning beachside Festival site, and will be complemented by diverse writers’ workshops, satellite events and literary dinners throughout Byron Bay and the wider Northern Rivers region.

‘The 21st Byron Writers Festival program aims to soar high across many different dominions. We seek to inspire, engage and cultivate accessible conversations between our writer guests and avid audiences,’ said Festival Director, Edwina Johnson.

‘We are especially proud of this year’s Program ¬– for its cultural diversity, scope and probing amalgamation of important topics and different writing genres.’

Acclaimed Australian novelists include Kate Grenville, Ashley Hay, Anita Heiss, Hannah Kent, A.S. Patric, Nicolas Rothwell, Kim Scott and Byron Bay based Rob Drewe who will launch his new novel Whipbird at the Festival. They join a best-selling line-up of Australian crime writers, including David Free, Mirandi Riwoe (M.J. Tjia), Michael Robotham and Jock Serong.

ABIA Award winner and rock icon Jimmy Barnes will discuss his bestselling, critically acclaimed memoir, Working Class Boy. Legendary singer and songwriter Tex Perkins will reveal his newly released autobiography. The two will come together for a special ABC Radio National session with presenter Sarah Kanowski. Sarah Blasko will feature in a one-on-one conversation with The Saturday Paper’s Erik Jensen as well as a Music Makers session with musician and novelist Holly Throsby.

Richard Roxburgh and Andrew Knight take us behind the scenes of the hugely popular TV-series Rake. Roxburgh will also entertain at Kids Big Day Out with his first children’s book Artie and The Grime Wave. In his startlingly honest memoir My Idol Years seventies pop star, barrister and Australian Idol judge Mark Holden spins the chair for us on the TV and music industries.

Master illusionist and escapologist Cosentino will share his greatest trick – how he learned to read – and was transformed from a bullied isolated 12-year-old boy with learning difficulties to one of the world’s most popular magicians. Sudanese refugee Deng Adut will recount his journey from child soldier to lawyer and 2017 NSW Australian of the Year alongside his co-author Ben Mckelvey.

Other highlight memoirists and biographers include Caroline Baum, Jane Hutcheon, Nikki Gemmell and Kim Mahood whose Position Doubtful Tim Winton nominated as his 2016 favourite book saying: ‘If anyone's written more beautifully and modestly about this country and its people I'm not aware of it. I think it's a treasure.’

Politics, much-needed debate and a good dose of humour will shine a light on the key issues facing Australians and the world when leading commentators take Festival centre-stage. Peter FitzSimons argues The Case for a Republic in the annual Thea Astley Lecture; satirist John Safran and respected journalist David Marr unravel the second coming of Pauline Hanson and the socio-political landscape that has given rise to the likes of Trump. Susan Carland makes the case that feminism and Islam can be complementary in Fighting Hislam; The Hon. Dr Barry Jones takes us on a journey through the music and literature that has inspired him, while Gold Walkley award-winning reporter Caro Meldrum-Hanna gives insight into her investigative journalism for ABC TV Four Corners.

The hugely popular Best of Insiders event returns to Byron Theatre with host Barrie Cassidy and panelists Malcolm Farr, David Marr and Laura Tingle taking us through all the big political developments of 2017. The Festival also pays tribute one of our greats, John Clarke, with a special evening event at Elements of Byron featuring Bryan Dawe and Andrew Knight.

The Festival also features media luminaries Julia Baird, Paul Barclay, Jennifer Byrne, Richard Fidler, Clementine Ford, Antony Funnell, Peter Helliar, John Lyons, Kerry O’Brien, Tracey Spicer, Lisa Wilkinson and Tony Jones who will talk about his debut novel and political thriller The Twentieth Man.

Charlie Veron, known as ‘the Godfather of Coral’, invites us to explore the wonders of his Life Underwater. He will also introduce a special screening of a startling documentary ‘Chasing Coral’. Lawrie Zion takes us into the eye of the storm with Our Weather Obsession. Acclaimed scientist Tim Flannery investigates exciting new technologies with Sunlight and Seaweed. Best-selling author and long-time farmer with a PhD in social change Charles Massy discusses regenerative agriculture, while Bruce Pascoe challenges the claim that pre-colonial Aboriginal society was essentially a hunter-gatherer society in his award-winning book Dark Emu.

Kate Cole-Adams explores of the gift of oblivion with Anaesthesia; and David Gillespie reveals the science of identifying and dealing with psychopaths at work and home with Taming Toxic People. Numbers nerd Adam Spencer will encourage us to get our geek on and beloved broadcaster and author of more than 15 books Robyn Williams will guide us through 40 years of ABC Radio National’s Science Show.

Art critic for The Boston Globe Sebastian Smee paints a fascinating picture of four friendships, betrayals, and breakthroughs in modern art in The Art of Rivalry. Artists Joshua Yeldham, Venkat Shyam, and Kim Mahood come together with Jill Eddington to discuss Making Art About Country.

International guests travelling to Byron Bay include US novelist Kayla Rae Whitaker whose debut novel The Animators is a dazzling story of female friendship; one of Indonesia’s most influential writers Eka Kurniawan; and celebrated columnist for The New York Times Roger Cohen. They will be joined by acclaimed UK writer and foreign affairs reporter Christina Lamb; Pulitzer-prize winning journalist Mei Fong whose recent book One Child reveals the true cost of China’s one-child policy, and by Indian-born British writer, lecturer and broadcaster Kenan Malik who traces the developments from The Satanic Verses to Charlie Hebdo in his book From Fatwa to Jihad.

Award-winning science writer Dava Sobel looks to the stars to reveal the hidden history of female astronomers in The Glass Universe, while American biology professor David George Haskell puts a stethoscope to nature’s most magnificent networkers and listens to The Song of Trees. Celebrated New York based philosophy professor Emrys Westacott shows us why less-is-more and shares The Wisdom of Frugality.

On her recent Australia Council trip to India, Festival Director Edwina Johnson encountered many wonderful writers, artists and speakers. Three will feature at the Festival – novelist and poet Kunal Basu, novelist and performance storyteller Vayu Naidu and celebrated Gond artist and now published author Venkat Shyam.

Kids Big Day Out on Festival Sunday offers a jam-packed, fun-filled program for the whole family with a huge array of activities for kids of all ages including the chance to meet their literary heroes. On hand to spark their imaginations will be Hilary Badger, Tristan Bancks, Morris Gleitzman, Peter Helliar, Lucas Proudfoot, Sally Rippin, and Richard Roxburgh.

The Festival is again partnering with local arts organisations to present additional Feature Events outside Byron Bay. These include Jimmy Barnes in conversation with Matt Condon at Lennox Head Cultural & Community Centre Saturday 5 August (Partner: Lennox Arts Board); John Safran in conversation with Bec Mac at Lismore City Hall Friday 4 August (Partner: NORPA); and Joshua Yeldham who will open his exhibition Endurance at the Tweed Regional Gallery Friday 4 August. These events complement other Feature Events, Performances and Literary Dinners throughout the Festival. Patrons are advised to book early for these in-demand sessions.

Byron Writers Festival 2017 will unfold from 4-6 August in the beautiful grounds of Elements of Byron resort.

It will be preceded by a series of hands-on skills development writing Workshops commencing on 31 July and the annual Festival Schools Programs for primary and secondary school children across the region. The Byron Writers Festival Road Trip will feature spoken word artist Miles Merrill and novelists Sophie Green and Jennifer Down aboard the StoryBoard bus that is headed to Casino, Glen Innes and Tenterfield.

Byron Writers Festival All tickets on sale now Festival Dates: 4-6 August 2017 Tickets: byronwritersfestival.com or call (02) 6685 5115

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