Current festival director Jeni Caffin (left), author Shamini Flint from Singapore, and the new director Candida Baker at last night’s launch at the Byron Bay Surf Club.
Current festival director Jeni Caffin (left), author Shamini Flint from Singapore, and the new director Candida Baker at last night’s launch at the Byron Bay Surf Club. Doug Eaton

Casual festival opening

THE WHO’S who of the Australian literary scene gathered to officially open the Byron Bay Writers Festival last night.

The prestigious annual event kicked off at the Byron Bay Surf Lifesaving Club with 250 locals, publishers, writers and VIPs in attendance.

Byron Bay Writers Festival director Jeni Caffin said this year’s official opening was less formal than in preceding years.

“In previous years it has been quite regimented where you arrive, have a glass of champagne, have a nibble and sit down,” she said.

“We decided this year it is all about the writers and the purpose was to make it feel like a celebration and to meet other people.

“There was none of this sit-down business, just writers gathering together and listening to two main addresses before Di and Rob take the stage to talk about why writers should not be let out in public.”

The festival opening was by Byron Bay Writers Festival chairman Christopher Hanley, followed by an address from the Southern Cross University Vice-Chancellor Peter Lee.

Local writers Di Morrissey and Robert Drew took to the stage shortly after, talking about the perils of being a writer at the festival.

The festival program starts today at North Beach Byron Bay (formerly Byron Bay Beach Resort) and wraps up on Sunday.

The festival has been dubbed as the best writers’ festival in the country for home-grown writers and is entering its 14th year this year.



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