Eminent historian Dr Geoffrey Blainey is among the big names headed to the guest speaker podium at this weekend’s Clunes Booktown Festival.
Festival director Dr Tess Brady says at least 15,000 visitors are expected for the weekend-long festival.
Dr Brady said preparations for the annual celebration of books and writers, were taking a toll on her voice.
“I’m voiceless. It’s very intense right now but it’s all going well,” Dr Brady said.
“The volunteers are all getting themselves organised and ready, the rosters are being filled, the speakers are all coming and the marquees are all about to go up,” she said.
“It’s enormously important. On one hand it’s important for the local regional people that these top writers come and talk it’s very important that regional people can have access to these top writers.
“It’s also very important for the top writers to come and meet people from the region and to understand the regions and regional issues.”
Among the line up of writerly guest speakers Dr Blainey is headed to Clunes, the site of Victoria’s first gold strike, to discuss gold from an historical perspective with Clunes’ Andrew Reeves.
“Gold had a tremendous effect on Victoria in the 1850s and 1860s,” said Dr Blainey whose book, The Tyranny of Distance coined a phrase.
“It makes the present China mineral boom seem like a dwarf in terms of its effects.
“It gave rise to new cities and towns including Clunes, changed politics and religion, transformed the ways of work and leisure.
“I will also ask, what was it like to be in Clunes and nearby towns at that exciting, hazardous time?”
Another of the guest speakers is, Adelaide-based Peter Goldsworthy’s whose coming-of-age memoir Maestro has been taught in Australian schools.
Mr Goldsworthy will speak at two sessions, one discussing celebrated literary figure, Patrick White for the centenary of his birth, and another alongside his daughter Anna Goldsworthy, who wrote her own memoir, Piano Lessons.
Another of the featured speakers, Alice Pung, whose popular collection, Growing Up Asian in Australia is also on school booklists, said the event was largely about generating discussion.
“Festivals are a chance for authors to meet the public. It’s a very private profession,” she said.