Byron Writers Festival reveals first guests for 2019 Festival

On a cool, yet beautifully crisp May evening, the Secret Garden, decked out in fairy lights, open fires and thankfully, Aeroguard (the mosquitos in Byron at the moment are in plague proportion) was the perfect setting for the announcement of this year’s Byron Writer’s Festival line up. With the full program to be released on 12 June, the night’s proceedings were a mere teaser. However, given the calibre of talent festival director Edwina Johnson already has in store for everyone, this year’s festival looks to be an incredible one to say the least.

Byron Writers Festival proudly announces Kurdish-Iranian refugee Behrouz Boochani will be taking part in this year’s Festival, appearing via live stream from Manus Island where he has been detained since 2013. Boochani is the recipient of one of Australia’s most prestigious literary prizes, The Victorian Prize for Literature. It was awarded for his memoir ‘No Friend But the Mountains’ written secretly on a mobile phone, one text at a time.

Byron Writers Festival’s impressive first roll-call of guests also includes celebrated Australian author Markus Zusak (‘Bridge of Clay’), US-based author Min Jin Lee whose sweeping four-generation saga of a Korean family ‘Pachinko’ was a New York Times best-seller, and Walkley Award winning journalist Leigh Sales who will share insights from her powerful book ‘Any Ordinary Day’.

Also appearing will be Sisonke Msimang (‘The Resurrection of Winnie Mandela’) daughter of a South African freedom fighter and Tara June Winch whose new novel ‘The Yield’ is described by Richard Flanagan as ‘A groundbreaking novel for black and white Australia’. The Festival is thrilled to welcome back award-winning writer Bruce Pascoe (Dark Emu) whose vast knowledge of Aboriginal agriculture captivated 2016 Festival audiences.

On hand to inspire and delight young and old will be passionate advocate for good health and the environment Damon Gameau (‘2040: A Handbook for the Regeneration’), writer and broadcaster Benjamin Law (‘Growing Up Queer in Australia’) and beloved children’s author and illustrator Alison Lester.

“We’re thrilled to share a preview of what’s in store for this year’s Byron Writers Festival, with many more exciting announcements to come,” says Festival Director Edwina Johnson. “Whatever your passion, be it fiction, the environment, social issues, poetry or politics, the Festival has something to inspire and entertain you. We look forward to welcoming audiences from near and far to a vibrant three-day gathering in one of the world’s most beautiful coastal locations.”

“Our Early Bird tickets have sold out for many years running, so this year we are keeping tickets sales open for a full week. Now is the time to secure a ringside seat at what will be a fabulous 23rd Byron Writers Festival,” says Johnson.

Byron Writers Festival is being held from 2-4 August. Early Bird 3-Day Passes are available for one week only from 8 – 14 May. The full program will be announced and all tickets will be on sale from 12 June. Tickets at

IMAGE: Behrouz Boochani CREDIT Ashley Gilbertson


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