Location: Thirroul District Community Centre & Library 352-358 Lawrence Hargrave Drive Thirroul

Gideon Haigh Photo

Gideon Haigh is a journalist from Melbourne, has contributed to more than 100 newspapers and magazines, and written 32 books, most recently Stroke of Genius: Victor Trumper and the Shot That Changed Cricket (2016).




Catherine McKinnon.smCatherine McKinnon is an award-winning writer of novels, plays and short stories. In 2006 she won the Penguin Women’s Weekly Award for her short story Haley and the Sea.  Her play Tilt was selected for the 2010 National Playwriting Festival, and another of her plays, As I Lay Dreaming won the Mitch Matthews Award in 2010. In 2015 she was co-winner of the Griffith Review Novella 111 Award. Her short stories, reviews and articles have appeared in Transnational Literature, Text Journal, RealTime and Narrative. Catherine lives in NSW and teaches performance and creative writing at the University of Wollongong. Her latest novel,Storyland is published by HarperCollins Australia.


Libby Libby Gleeson AM publishes picture books and longer fiction for young people. Her work has been shortlisted for or has won almost every major literary award in this country and she has been widely published overseas.  Her latest picture book, Clare’s Goodbye was illustrated by Anna Pignataro. In 2012 she published a novel Red which won the Prime Ministers award.

Libby chairs the WestWords, the Western Sydney Children and Youth Literature Project. She is an adjunct Associate Professor at the University of Sydney. In 2007 she received a Member of the Order of Australia Award for services to literature and literacy education.


Jeff ApterJeff Apter is the author of more than 20 books. His work includes biographies of the Finn brothers, Johnny O’Keefe, the Bee Gees, Marc Hunter, ‘Shirley’ Strachan, Silverchair, John Farnham and Keith Urban. His latest book is High Voltage: The Life of Angus Young. Jeff has also co-written and / or ghostwritten memoirs by the musicians Kasey Chambers, Richard Clapton and AC/DC’s Mark Evans, the boxer-turned-soldier Paul Warren and cricketer Michael Slater. Jeff helped with the memoir Somebody That I Used to Know: Love, Loss and Jack Thompson by Bunkie King, which was the bestselling non-fiction title in Australia on its release in early 2015. Jeff was also the creative consultant for the 2015 live show, A State of Grace: The Music of Tim and Jeff Buckley, which was nominated for a Helpmann award. Jeff lives in Wollongong.

Caroline Baum sm

Caroline Baum is a respected journalist and presenter. She has worked for the BBC, ABC, Time Life Books, Vogue magazine (UK and Australia), was the founding editor of Good Reading magazine and the Editorial Director of Booktopia. She has been a judge of the Stella Prize, the Ned Kelly and Kibble Awards. She is in demand as a presenter at Writers Festivals across Australia and has interviewed many of the world’s top international authors. Her writing has been published in major national publications and online media. She is currently researching a biography for a DCA in Creative Writing at University of Wollongong and is the recipient of the Hazel Rowley Fellowship 2015. She lives on the South Coast of NSW.


Ashleigh Wilson has been a journalist for almost two decades. He began his career at The Australian in Sydney before spending several years in Brisbane. He moved north in 2004 to become the paper’s Darwin correspondent, during which time he won a Walkley Award for reports on unethical behaviour in the Aboriginal art industry. He has been the paper’s arts editor since 2011.Brett Whiteley: Art, Life and the Other Thing, s his first book.



Michael Adams smMichael Adams is a human geographer at the Australian Centre for Cultural Environmental Research at the University of Wollongong. He has published in Meanjin, work that was then republished in The Guardian, and Australian Book Review. His research has included examining Indigenous and local knowledge systems and how these interact with Western knowledge frameworks.

Methodologically, Michael likes ‘full-immersion’ approaches, getting deeply and actively involved in the human and non-human lives and landscapes, and has extensive experience with Indigenous and local communities across Australia, in arctic Scandinavia, and in India.


Kerrie DaviesKerrie Davies is a journalist and media academic at UNSW  Sydney, where she teaches multimedia journalism and social media. She has written for Collective magazine, Elle, Vogue Australia, and The Weekend Australian Magazine, among other media outlets. She recently submitted her Doctor of Arts (Literary Journalism) at the University of Sydney and is co-author of the Colonial Australian Literary Journalism Database.



29/03/2016: Dinkus - Review Editor Timothy Douglas. Hollie Adams/The Australian

Tim Douglas is Editor of The Weekend Australian Review. He has written widely across the arts for The Australian, The Scotsman, Edinburgh’s The List magazine and The Illawarra Mercury. He has lived in Thirroul since 2008.




Di Ellis

Dianne Ellis  I truly appreciate the written word, both when reading and writing stories.  Poetry has played a large part in my life, having had my first poem published in the school newsletter when I was nine.
Over the last 10 years, my writing has leaned towards picture and chapter books for younger readers, and I will be very pleased to show you my three Rusty Rumble books at this year’s festival. Excerpts can be seen o my website.




Sue Whiting is an author and editor who lives and works in a small coastal village in the Northern Illawarra. Sue has written numerous books in a variety of genres: fiction and nonfiction, picture books through to YA, including the best-selling The Firefighters, and the award-winning A Swim in the Sea. Her latest book Platypus, illustrated by Mark Jackson, was a 2016 CBCA Notable Book. Next year will see the release of her new middle grade novel, Missing.

Sue loves sharing her passion for story and storytelling, reading and writing with people of all ages.


Gabe Journey JonesGabrielle “Journey MC” Jones will bring drum beats and rhymes to a storytime circle in which everyone will get to add their own words and create a rap story together! Journey MC has been using poetry and drumming to talk about social issues for over 20 years. She is a Social Worker, Spoken Word Performer and Percussionist who believes we all have rhythm inside us and important stories to share.



Pat.GrantPat Grant is a cartoonist, writer and a designer based in Austinmer. His graphic novels has been published all over the world and translated into french and Italian. He teaches in the design and animation school at UTS.




Sean WilliamsSean Williams, the author of new release My Nanna Nelly Will Tour the Illawarra Tomorra, is a keen outdoor enthusiast with a love for his local surroundings. His work is a celebration of the setting’s scenery, history and natural beauty, and his individual style of rhyme gives the adventures of lovable character Nanna Nelly and her narrating granddaughter a secretive and wonderfully immersive sense of exploration.

The one thing I need around me, so I can start writing something new is people in conversation. Some of my best ideas come from everyday conversations. Illawarra Tomorra is one story in a four part series. Nanna Nelly has a lot more adventuring to do in Australia and all around the world.”

Jo OliverJo Oliver is the author and illustrator of four children’s picture books, Pilgrim, Tatiara, The Light and The Dreaming Tree. Her books are all set on the south coast of NSW and are stories of children’s experiences in the natural environment. She uses linocut, solar plate etching and watercolour to illustrate her books.
Jo was shortlisted for the Children’s Book Council of Australia Crichton Award for new illustrators in 2009. All her books are on the NSW Premier’s Reading Challenge list.


lisa thompsonLisa Thompson has written hundreds of stories, both fiction and nonfiction for Blake Education and their online platform Reading Eggs.  Her Storyland levelled reading books are used in schools in Australia, the UK and USA. Some of her most popular fiction series titles are for 5-8 yr old and include Dragon and Bat, Cluey Louie, Cluey Crew and Trivia Olivia. She has two exciting series releases set for 2018, Fairy Forest and Saddleback Stables.



Helen McCosker

Helen McCosker is an artist, author and illustrator based in the seaside village of Thirroul. In 2006, Helen’s first children’s picture book The Nightfish was published by The Five Mile Press. It was launched by Libby Gleeson at the CBCA 8th National Conference in Sydney.

Most of Helen’s working life has been as an illustrator of magazines and books including Australian House & Garden, Belle, Dolly, Cosmopolitan, Charter, The Reader’s Digest and The Australian Review of Travel. Helen is currently working on a couple of children’s book manuscripts as well as a series of drawings inspired by sea and shore.

Sean Farrar works as a reading group leader at his daughter’s primary school each week and over the last few years has developed a cache of child friendly stories including his upcoming debut There’s a Magpie in My Soup and the sequel There’s a Koala In My Kitchen. He also has plans to publish other stories including The Camel Who Loved Caramel, The Best Clouds Come at Night and What’s On Your Clothesline?

He is an avid reader and attends literary events in his home city of Wollongong whenever his schedule allows. Sean “Faz” Farrar lists his main writing goal as… “to give my creative voice the best opportunity I can to be shared with a wider audience”.

© Copyright 2014 - Thirroul Readers & Writers Festival - Website Managed by