Clunes Booktown Festival 6th-7th May 2017

The 11th CLUNES BOOKTOWN FESTIVAL will be held on the weekend of Saturday 6th and Sunday 7th May 2017. Pop the dates in your planner.

Trader sites are intended specifically for books or related products. Enquiries for next year’s 11th Clunes Booktown Festival on Saturday 6th & Sunday 7th May 2017 should be sent to our administrator at

Applications to participate can be sent to

As usual, we strongly advise all guests intending to stay overnight to book their accommodation early, and/or consider staying in one of the many charming nearby towns…

Reflections on the 10th Anniversary Clunes Booktown Festival 2016

Our Anniversary event was a stunning success, containing countless extraordinary moments. We attracted 17-18,000 people over the two days, with greater attendance weighted toward the Saturday, when the weather was finer.

The 10th Anniversary Clunes Booktown Festival occurred on the weekend of 30th April & 1st May 2016.  The festival was themed for the first time: ‘Journeys through time and place.’ To celebrate how far we have all come, and how many new possibilities await, we invited participants to engage with this broad theme in whatever capacity seems appropriate to their creative talents. The full main speaker schedule was released on the evening of 11 March. The Kids Village details were released 17 March. The whole 40 page program went live 9 April.

We were honoured to host among our special guests, Australian luminaries, Hon Anna Bligh and Richard Frankland MA. We had over 50 book traders, 50 authors speaking, 9 general entertainment acts, 9 educational acts (4 for kids and 4 for teens), various kids activities, an Exhibition in the old Wesley Bluestone focused on our theme, and last, but not least, good food and books galore. It was an extraordinary event. We experienced full capacity crowds for Anna Bligh and Richard Frankland, and most people were there early and prepared to queue in an orderly fashion. These two sessions were video recorded, in readiness for sharing in the near future.

With a new Artistic Director and CEO at the helm, plus many new members on the Board, there were quite a few things that were a little different about the 10th Anniversary Festival. However, as we remain Australia’s largest book trader festival and intend to stay that way, we were determined to retain all the features people have told us they love!

We profoundly thank all of our volunteers who helped with this milestone celebratory event. Shifts were 2-3 hours, and needs and skills based. As a community based festival, we greatly appreciate the interest and engagement of all volunteers.

This year’s Festival featured ease of access via four entry gates, located at each end of Bailey and Fraser Streets, so there was a more fluid and interactive feel, with loads of new entertainment and things to see and do. The event ran from 9am – 5pm both days, for a very modest $10 entry fee, and that’s for the whole weekend! This included access to all author talks, entertainment and the exhibition. It truly was superb value for money, and its free for kids 14 and under.  To relieve the pressure on our small town’s limited EFTPOS facilities, we asked please to try to bring cash for the entrance fee. For those coming via public transport, trains departed from Ballarat Station, with an honorary Town Cryer to usher guests aboard. There’s no Myki on our little line, however, so tickets were purchased the old-fashioned way!

Free Parking was available all around the township. First in got the proximity. You can also park in the Showgrounds (on Service Street) where there will be mass parking. There was a free regular shuttle bus to take you to the main festival area. This bus will loop around the whole town. There is also a courtesy shuttle bus to meet all incoming trains from Ballarat which arrive at Clunes Station. You can bring well socialised dogs on leads, so long as you keep them under control. Please do not leave them tied to posts, so if you bring a dog, please bring an extra human too, so you can tag team.

We were delighted to introduce our splendid new mascot, the Clunes Booktown Festival Owl. He made quite a few appearances throughout the Festival.  Our 2016 Artistic Director, Ailsa Brackley du Bois, commissioned Ballarat based visual artist, Pauline O’Shannessy Dowling, to create our entirely original owl. What he may symbolise is entirely in the eye of the beholder, but for those interested, here’s what our Artistic Director thinks is significant about him: Ailsa says “the Owl symbolises wonder and wisdom, experiential learning, the power of communication and the sharing of knowledge. The mythology of ancient cultures connects the Owl to the moon’s cycles of change, renewal, magic, prophecy and higher wisdom”. The Owl is a proud new mascot for our much loved Festival, as it enters its second decade of life. We suspect our Owl will be with us for a long while to come.

Wrap-Up of the 2016 Festival Creative Content and Contributors

In recognition of the significance of our 10th Anniversary, our 2016 author talks and performance program was extensive. In response we attracted crowds of between 50-125 for most sessions, 240 for Sean Gorman and 300 people for both Richard MA Frankland and the Hon. Anna Bligh.

It was a Herculean effort on the part of the whole Festival crew and all of our greatly valued volunteers, and we thank you all for your energy, enthusiasm and support. We wish to thank Father Gary Jones and the Clunes Catholic congregation and community, in particular, for generously allowing us to use the St Thomas Aquinas Church for this one special time.

Our non-fiction speakers numbered 17 in total, and included the Hon Anna Bligh, Richard Frankland, Michael Wilding, Sean Gorman, David Waldron, Robert Hillman, Keir Reeves, David Goodman, Anne Beggs-Sunter, Benjamin Mountford, Leigh McKinnon, Scott Whittaker, John Arnold, Heather Ellis, Fran Bryson, Andrew Chapman and Helga Leunig.

In the fiction and literature streams, we featured 9 special guest speakers: Cate Kennedy, Rod Jones, Leah Kaminsky, Arnold Zable, Peter Yeldham, Lee Kofman, Rochelle Siemienowicz, Toni Jordan and Ailsa Wild. We were joined by esteemed chairs representing The Wheeler Centre, Writers Victoria, the Melbourne Writer’s Festival, the Emerging Writers Festival, Readings Carlton, PEN Melbourne, the City of Ballarat and the Hepburn Shire Council, as well as the Hon. Lisa Neville MP.

Our 6 guest poets included Sandy Jeffs, Nathan Curnow, Melissa Watts, Caitlin Mailing, Noel Hayes and Bob McKinnon.

In our panel discussions, we showcased 22 speakers: Neal Drinnan, Gregory Day, Miles Allison, Nicole Smith, Cheree Peters, Glenda Millard, Fiona Wood, Alison Goodman, Emily Gale, Sam Cooney, Miles Allison, Aaron Mannion, Linda Mannheim, and also involved the Newstead Tattoo presents team: Neal Boyack, Annie Drum, Zack Hayward, Kisten Boerema, as well as Ann James and the team behind the Hush Treasure Book (Lee Burgemeestre, Susan McClaine, Karen Taylor, Mick Letho and again Glenda Millard).

Our performances involved 5 local orchestras (the Ballarat High School Whiz Bang Orchestra, Creswick Community Brass Band, Daylesford Community Brass Band, Wesley College Band and the pBones), 4 choirs (The Boat Chorus, the Thursday Night Choir, the Mad Swans, Mini-Mona’s),  9 specialist entertainers (Jacques the French Waiter, Scott Wallace Baker, Aiden McHarg, Bernard Caleo, Sally Rippin and Patrick Verdon, Kewwi Buzza, the Moth Fairy, the HUSH Music Foundation team and circus workshops with ‘Asking for Trouble’) and last, but not least 36 Federation University Australia Performing Arts students celebrating Shakespeare.

Our feature exhibition in the Wesley Bluestone was themed ‘Journeys through Time and Place’ and featured Antique and digitised maps of the local Goldfields, courtesy of the State Library Victoria, biblio-artists: Clunes Art Group, Nicholas Jones, Barry Wemyss; multi-media artists: Jon Paley, James Pasakos, Carole Wilson; the Victorian Bookbinders Guild.

In the words of Readings Founder and Managing Director, Mark Rubbo: “I think it’s the best literary event in Australia. Sales have been great, there’s a fun atmosphere and the people who are here are people who are so keen and interested in books.”

Coming from the winner of the 2016 London Book Fair’s inaugural International Bookstore of the Year Award, this is high praise indeed.

Reflections on the Clunes Booktown Festival 2015

Clunes Booktown Festival 2015 was held on May 2nd to 3rd, with approximately 18,000 people in attendance, along with 72 book-traders from across Australia. For those two days, the village was home to the largest collection of rare, out-of- print, new, small-press publications, second hand and collectable books in Australia.

Visitors immersed themselves in a series of talks from some of the nation’s best authors – David Day on Keating; Helen Trinca winner of the PM Literary Awards; Michael Mori and Hwang Sun-mi on fighting against the odds; Stella Prize winner Emily Bitto; Merv Collins on James Morrison; performance poet and novelist Omar Musa; much loved playwright Hannie Rayson;  CBC award winning children’s author and illustrator Christopher Faille and Danny Snell; John Arnold on book collecting and a host of fascinating talks and events by Federation University including book launches, performances and exhibitions.

There was an exhibition of commissioned works from internationally acclaimed photographic artists William Yang and Koo Bohnchang In the Spirit of George Rose and a rare chance to purchase their works. After Clunes the exhibition toured internationally.

For families, there was a hay bale maze, horse-and-cart rides, medieval Punch and Judy, sword-making workshops, roaming street performers and an exhibition called Telling the Anzac Story to Children.

Small Dog Design