Festival of delights

Byron Bay turned on the sunshine at the weekend for what proved to be a sparkling Writers’ Festival.

Each year the festival grows in reputation as it pulls together a stellar list of guest speakers yet, despite the inevitable increase in size, it manages to retain the intimacy and sense of community that has been its hallmark. 

For me, the sign of a good festival is one where you leave head spinning from the interesting conversation yet regretful that you didn’t manage to get to all the sessions. Or all the right sessions.

The location of the festival, just a stone’s throw from the beach, does help minimise the regrets though. Once you have entered the enclosed area you have free range over the five main marquees so it’s easy to drift between individual venues

And then there were those treasures, the sessions that on paper look worthy or of very minority appeal yet turn out to be full of the unexpected and occasionally the utterly memorable.  The Secret Life of Birds with panellists Nobel Prize winner Professor Peter Doherty, art historian and curator Janine Burke and author Carrie Tiffany, was completely enchanting.

The panel’s passion for birds, as works of art, complex creatures and scientific contributors, was infectious. I still have in my mind the image of the sentinel chickens as a kind of feathered National Guard on guard to help save us all from harm. 

More from the festival later.

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