Friday 28 March 2014


The Executive and Board members
of Festival of Golden Words Inc.

The Beaconsfield Festival of Golden Words was simply awesome. 

On the website it was advertised as “Free marquee sessions, poets’ breakfasts, literary lunches, a literary dinner, a national address, writers workshops, vineyard food and wine writing sessions. A unique writers festival in Tasmania’s beautiful Tamar Valley in March."

I have never been able to attend any large Writer Festivals and always vaguely thought they were only held in large cities like Sydney, Melbourne and even Byron Bay. Then multi-published Stephen Dando-Collins and his wife returned to Tasmania to live only a few kilometres away from us here in the West Tamar region.

Volunteer Mary

When I first heard about this venture for our small Beaconsfield village and close to an hour’s drive from Launceston, I was a little sceptical about what was being planned and anticipated. However, I did sign up to be a local volunteer. But now, I am rather ashamed of myself for underestimating the whole thing. The Beaconsfield Festival of Golden Words gained local and state government support. It attracted eighty published authors presenting workshops in various locations and sharing on panels in two large marquees with the many hundreds of attendees. The Beaconsfield primary school principal reported there were about 570 school children on Saturday who arrived from several areas of our island. The eleven authors there included Wendy Harmer, Andy Griffiths, Christina Booth and Lian Tanner

Because I was unable to attend many sessions and also did not take photos, I asked my local, published author friend, Margaret Muir, to share some thoughts and photos of the event.

Margaret Muir - background is the Tamar River
Margaret, one of the eighty busy authors reports:

Festival launch. L-R Stephen and Louise Dando-Collins,
Premier Lara Gidding, West Tamar Mayor Barry Easther
I thoroughly enjoyed the conference and though I have attended conferences for Romance writers and Historical novelists and, in some cases, travelled overseas and outlaid a fortune in travel expenses and registration costs, this BFOGW was the best I have ever attended. It was so well organised and well attended, the only problem for the attendees was choosing which of the lectures’ panels to go to as two marquees of events were happening throughout the day.

The Festival was the first of its kind organised in Tasmania and is set to rival the Byron Bay Festival in Australia

Already funds are available for a similar event next Year.

Also, I think, because it was not a limited field – such as Romance or Historical, the authors and those attending came from very diverse fields including fiction, non-fiction, children’s, food/wine etc.

One of the many panels
 As for myself, the first panel I was part of was chaired by Stephen Dando-Collins.

 It was excellent with Rachael Treasure, Irina Dunn and Tim Lack of Foot and Plaisted printers. The topic was “Is self-publishing the Future of Publishing.” 

Speaker on left is Steve Bisley
While no direct answer was achieved, some of the terms – self- publishing, assisted self-publishing, vanity publishing, independent publishing were discussed. There was considerable interest from the audience and I received several follow-up questions after the event.

Beaconsfield gold mine entrance
 Apart from the free marquee events there were several other sessions and paid workshops.  Two very enjoyable gatherings were the Gala opening cocktail party where Maggie Beer and Julian Burnside QC were keynote speakers. 

In memory of the ABC journalist who died at Beaconsfield during the mine disaster, at the Literary Dinner Charles Woolley delivered the Richard Carlton address. 

Mary again:

Thank you so much, Margaret. I have just enjoyed reading another of your books, Admiralty Orders, that I bought at the Festival. your books are also now available as e-books. 

Do check out her website:

I also enjoyed Finklestein's Miracle by Stephen Dando-Collins and then discovered it had quite a story to how it was published. Do also check out his interesting website and 30 books:

Running in conjunction with the Saturday and Sunday was the Fringe Golden Word event with the aim of providing a valuable platform for promising, emerging writers. I presented a workshop to a small group of fiction writers that was well received. This was organised by Yvonne Gluyas and Joy Elizabeth with help from Robyn Friend - who unfortunately became ill during the session of readings by emerging writers.

It is planned to make this Festival an annual event. Whether annual or even bi-annual, stay tuned for another opportunity to attend our next Beaconsfield of Festival Golden Words.

Mary Hawkins is currently finishing her latest Christian romance manuscript, Her Outback Cowboy, and still trying to put into practice what she has been learning about romance writing for nearly thirty years. Last December she celebrated twenty years since her first book, Search For Tomorrow, was published in 1993 by Barbour. She is excited her back list contemporary and historical Heartsong Presents novels are again available as e-book through Barbour’s Truly Yours Digital Editions.


  1. Mary and Margaret, great post! I'd love to attend a writers festival with a diverse range of activities for writers of all ages and genres. My daughter loves Andy Griffiths' books, and I'm not surprised the festival attracted hundreds of kids from all over Tassie :)

    1. Four of our grandchildren went to Aandy Griffiths workshops and very excited had books signed. Enjoyed his and Tristan Bancks very much.

  2. HI Mary and Margaret, I love the generous spirit authors have toward emerging writers. Great to read all levels were well catered for. Thanks for sharing. :)

    1. I guess it is because we have been so blessed ourselves by published authors that helped and inspire us.

  3. Sounds a fun event. Well done Tassie. Thanks Mary and Margaret for sharing snippets with us.

    1. It was a good time, Dale, but have to confess I was exhausted Sunday evening!

  4. IT sounds great! The one we have in Adelaide every March (as part of the Adelaide Festival of Arts) is called Writers' Week and (until Beaconsfield !) has been the only Australian event offered free to all comers. I have been attending since the early 90's. But it gives little or no exposure to faith-based writers, apart from people like Tim Winton. Thanks for posting. Rhonda

    1. There were no "faith-based" events here either. Only the events in the two marquees were free. As you can see on the website, some of the workshops had quite high fees. My workshop for the Fringe was also free and I donated my time. It was on the Dangers and Delights of Writing - from over 30 years experience. I doubt if would have had many - if any - attend a faith-based workshop. I am just so thankful to now have Omega Writers and the annual conferences now for Christian writers - whether they are targeting the general or Christian market. I wrote for many, many years without contact with other Christians and do value these times so much.

  5. This sounds like such a wonderful event, Mary. I would have loved to have been there! And perhaps, if the event is repeated, there may be opportunity for faith-based input: perhaps someone like Christina Booth whose name I see there would be interested. She is a Christian illustrator - and occasional writer!

    1. Christina is a lovely person. Met her at the Society Women Writers of Tas a few times and also at the Festival of course. She is apparently trying to write and illustrate her own children's books now. A very busy lady.

  6. What an exciting time for you, Mary. And in a beautiful setting. Ah, one of these days faith-based fiction may find its niche in these secular events. Then we'll all flood the place!!!

    1. Over many years I've found great info and help about writing at conferences of all kinds. My favourites are still ones where I can share Christian fellowship but we can learn more anytime we meet with other writers further along their journeys.


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