JUST when you thought the Belongil woodchip was here to stay, the Byron Bay Writers Festival has officially confirmed that it’s on the move.
After Artistic Director Jeni Caffin’s first year when flooding rain saw her and general manager Chris Hanley out there with gumboots and shovels, the festival moved briefly to Belongil Fields, but it is now safely back where it all began, on the site of the old and somewhat beleaguered Byron Bay Beach Resort on Bayshore Drive.
One of the main events of the August festival, which first started in 1997, is the keynote speaker, and last night Ms Caffin and Mr Hanley revealed that this year it will be the controversial journalist and writer, Fatima Bhutto, whose father, Murtaza Bhutto, was killed by police in 1996 in Karachi, during the premiership of her aunt, Benazir Bhutto, who herself was assassinated in 2007.
Fatima Bhutto, a well-known outspoken feminist and intellectual, has a new book launching in April, Songs of Blood and Sword, a history of the Bhutto clan and Pakistani politics.
Although many have wondered if she would enter politics, Ms Bhutto has said that for now she prefers to remain active through writing rather than elected office. “I don’t believe in birth-right politics. I don’t think, nor have I ever thought, that my name qualifies me for anything,” she said.
It may not be Pakistan, but the Bayshore Drive resort has certainly seen some battles over the years, with locals fighting off various developments including Club Med, and most recently Becton, who fought for seven years to build a new resort. Becton gave up late last year, selling to a Queensland family, who wish to remain anonymous, for $18.5m with approval to sub-divide. The family has said they are going to bring the site back to its former glory.
Becton were luckier than Club Med, at least making a profit on their investment.
Apparently the new owners are cleaning up the site in readiness for its August invasion.