The inaugural Island Storytellers Writers & Readers Festival was held over the October long weekend, from 1 to 4 October 2021, in Quandamooka Country at the historic Pioneer Hall on Lamb Island – Ngudjuru, and on the waters of southern Moreton Bay.

The festival, which featured local, regional and national writers, poets, lyricists and comedians, began as a conversation between the co-directors Susan Ward and Deborah Jordan.

“Both Susan and I lived for some years in Adelaide with its wonderful Writers Week during the festival there, and given the number of professional and amateur writers on Lamb Island, we had a quorum and a niche,” Dr Jordan

Workshops and panels were held in the Pioneer Hall, the Lamb Island Recreation Club, in the community gardens and on the, waters of Moreton Bay. Local sailor, John Goodman from Moreton Bay Foundation took book club groups and authors for jaunts on the bay as they discussed novels.

Susan Ward said the inaugural festival had good local support to get off the ground. “We were very fortunate with our support, the Queensland Writers Centre started us off with a donation and provided public liability for the Island Storytellers, emboldened by that we applied for and received a small Regional Arts Development Grant. Our State MP Kim Richards provided funds to hire a minibus, and Island Storytellers received additional financial support from Wattsup Solar & Electrical on the islands. Louise and Robert Hartog of Aria Cruises agreed early on to provide their beautiful sailing yacht Aria for a private charter on Moreton Bay for our History on the Bay event. We were sponsored by Sirromet with wine and champagne for two of our events, History on the Bay and Floating Book Clubs.”

The Moreton Bay Foundation and Redland Council Libraries provided support, and created the website and designed and coordinated the print media. Hi-Vis water taxi brought participants from the mainland.

“As an island festival it was important to include events on the water. We plan to have the next festival at a time of year when the weather is more predictable for water-based events and bring more sailing and environmentally friendly transport into the mix.”

Deborah Jordan said Covid makes holding a festival a risky business, and they decided to be as flexible as possible.

“Both of us were delighted with our participating writers and artists and the response of locals and mainlanders. Event managing takes is a great deal of ‘work’ and a core group of local residents were extraordinary in stepping up as volunteers to run our pop-up cafe, drive the bus, billet the writers, move furniture and work with our community groups.”

Guest author, poet Jena Woodhouse said it was a warm hearted and memorable festival.

“The keynote of the festival for me was goodwill – such lovely people, both participants and those who attended.”

If you missed out this year, Deborah and Susan plan to hold a literary festival every two years, so get ready for 2023.

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