IN a coup for organisers and festival-goers alike, former Premier of Queensland, Anna Bligh and Australian journalist and correspondent for Sky News Australia, Stan Grant are confirmed as guest speakers at this year’s 10th Anniversary Clunes Booktown Festival.
What started as an ‘experiment’ by four locals to rejuvenate their town, has now turned into one of Western Victoria’s largest cultural festivals. In 2002, with the help of an army of 100 volunteers from across the township, Clunes residents Tess Brady, Graeme Johnstone, Noel Hayes and Linda Newitt put on what was then known as ‘Booktown for a Day’.
Hoping that they might attract 1,000 odd people, expectations were blown and an experiment was proven when 6,000 turned up for the event. Now there is a team of 200 volunteers plus part time staff who run the event. Clunes is now known not only as Victoria’s first gold mining town, but the Southern Hemisphere’s first International Booktown.
The program of author talks has more than doubled in size from last year and organisers are now concerned about how they are going to fit all the expected visitors into Clunes! Organisers have hired big screen TVs to broadcast these high profile identities’ talks to outside of the venue.
Clunes has a long legacy of welcoming high profile Australian identities with a political conscience, such as Barry Jones OAM, Malcolm Fraser, Bob Hawke, John Marsden, Anne Summers and William Yang.