Writers Program


Jim Haynes

A professional entertainer since 1988, Jim has written many songs, recorded for Festival, Sony, EMI and ABC, had a national hit with Dont Call Wagga Wagga Wagga and is the Australiana expert on 2GB Sydney and 4BC Brisbane. He was awarded the Order of Australia Medal in the Australia Day Honour’s List in 2016, ‘for service to the performing arts as an entertainer, author, broadcaster and historian’. The son of British migrants, Jim taught in schools and universities in NSW and Britain, he has masters’ degrees in literature, from New England University and the University of Wales in the UK, and is the author of 28 books. His latest publication for Allen & Unwin, The Big Book of Australias War Stories, recounts stories of characters and campaigns from Federation to the Vietnam War, from our first VC winner to our hundredth.



Diane Jackson Hill

Previously a primary school teacher, Diane is now an award-winning emerging children’s author.  She lives along the southern coast of Australia and is strongly drawn to the ocean and all the creatures that call it home. Diane aims to educate children about the marine environment and to help protect and restore it for future generations. She is the author of Baby Band, Annabel’s Dance, Chooks in Dinner Suits and will launch Windcatcher at the festival.



Craig Smith

Growing up in the Adelaide Hills, and studying at the South Australian School of Art, over his 44 year career Greg has illustrated a little over 400 picture books, junior novels and educational readers. The humour and pathos of an Australian childhood are the recurring themes of his work – a childhood lived in the Australian landscape, not always a suburb. Craig has several award-winners to his credit and his titles appear regularly on Children’s Choice Award shortlists. Finding humour in domestic, family and school situations, with a fondness for unusual perspectives and energetic characterization that are features of his work.



Maggie Somerville

Maggie has written poems, songs and tunes all her life. Her songs are mostly in the folk genre, and she plays guitar, mandolin, ukulele and tin whistle. In 2004 Maggie wrote the score for a musical, Mulga Bill’s Bicycle and has released 2 solo albums in 2013 and 2018 plus a joint C.J. Dennis album with Stephen Whiteside (2015).  In 2019 she released The Forest Prayed, an album of Dame Mary Gilmore poems that Maggie has set to music, hoping to raise more awareness of this famous woman on our $10 note. Maggie is launching that album during the Festival.


Stephen Whiteside

Stephen has been writing poetry for children for several decades. Many of his poems have been published in magazines or anthologies, both here and overseas. In 2014, his collection of poetry for children, The Billy That Died With Its Boots On and Other Australian Verse, was published by Walker Books. In 2015, the book won a Golden Gumleaf award for Book of the Year at the Australian Bush Laureate Awards. Stephen is a great admirer of the classic Australian poets, especially C. J. Dennis.



Mick Coventry

Mick was born in Kyabram, but it would be a mistake to say he grew up there, because Mick has never grown up. As a poet and author, Mick has an ear for a good yarn, and is a laconic and dry witted storyteller – in both written and spoken form. He has won the Pat Glover Storytelling Award at Port Fairy twice and won the Victorian Yarnspinning title in 2019. Mick has verse in several anthologies of children’s poetry and performs for school children regularly. He has contributed a weekly story to his local newspaper for more than 21 years, and his poetry features in the Shire of Campaspe and Echuca Historical Society’s Poetry Trail.

Maya Linnell

Maya grew up in a small country town, climbing towering gum trees and reading her way through her family’s bookshelves before discovering a never-ending supply of novels at the local library. She found her feet in journalism, working at a rural newspaper before a segue into public relations. Maya and now writes fiction and bloggs for Romance Writers Australia. Wildflower Ridge is her debut novel, and gathers inspiration from her rural upbringing and the small communities she have always lived in and loved.


Gordon Phillips-Ross

Gordon Phillips-Ross was the 2019 Pat Glover Story Telling Award winner. Keep your eyes an ears open as he is our 2020 roving poet. Prepare to be delighted.