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Boorowa Literary Festival
July 14 and July 15

Where writers and readers talk about reading and writing
Iain Payten.jpg
Ashley Kalagian Blunt.jpeg
          Iain Payten
   Ashley Kalagian Blunt
 James McKenzie Watson
    Hayley Scrivenor

Behind our inaugural literary festival


It is well-known that people in the bush love telling tales and sometimes these are even true!


Often times these tales might be garnered from conversations in the fields, along the grape vines, over machinery, at the pub, over a coffee, alongside a sporting field or on the golf course. They are also dutifully collected from the reading of books and then shared with each other.


Boorowa and the surrounding Hilltops district has a rich history of reading and writing, going back even before the creation of the Mechanic's Institute (now the old CWA building on Pudman Street), built in 1883. Now there are many book clubs, the libraries in the district are well-run and there are even local authors. We also have a wine bar that sells books and hosts authors.

We hope that the Boorowa Literary Festival adds to this heritage by building on the relationship between writers and readers. Our wine bar's successful author series and book launches have shown the joy that can be had when writers and readers get to talk with each other about reading and writing. Rather than have an illustrious sage on the stage mediating the message, we have curated a culture whereby a conversation occurs between the readers and the writers and a more casual and yet more intimate experience results. To this end we have paired our illustrious authors with local readers, each of whom will bring their own life experience to the conversation. These champions are listed below, in the schedule section.

Our Line-up

Iain Payten

Ashley Kalagian Blunt

James McKenzie Watson

Haley Scrivenor

dirt town.jpg

We are very lucky to have some of Australia's best new novelists as guests at our inaugural literary festival. They are Ashley Kalagian Blunt (author of Dark Mode), James McKenzie Watson (Denizens) and Hayley Scrivenor (Dirt Town). James and Ashley also co-host a podcast called "James and Ashley Stay at Home" which is a popular writing and health podcast.

Each of our writers has published a significant book in the last one or two years, some of them debut novels, and all of them have received much praise. In fact, Hayley's novel was recently awarded the prestigious 2023 General Fiction Book of the Year at the Australian Book Industry Awards and James was awarded the 2021 Penguin Literary Prize.

We have also decided that from the very beginning of our literary festivals we wish to stand out from other writer and literary festivals, even the biggest ones!


To this end, in addition to making sure that members of our community are front and centre - not only by being the interlocutors but also by hosting our writers in their own homes - we are deliberately choosing to bring different writing communities together as well.

As such we are delighted that the first speaker at our first literary festival  - Iain Payten - is a highly experienced writer who has spent his last 25 years honing his craft on the back pages of many of Australia's major newspapers. Most journalists must surely write the equivalent of several dozen books over the course of their careers but can often be overlooked as writers because of the different demands of their jobs. Not us, if someone is a writer of distinction and of interest to a broad range of readers, then we are willing to consider inclusion in our community's festival.

Iain will launch the inaugural literary festival in the wine bar with a conversation about writing from his perspective as an eminent sports journalist and editor, with a special focus on rugby union, given this is a Rugby World Cup year after all.

Our Schedule

Day One:    Session One   : SOLD OUT!


Friday, July 14, 6pm to 730pm, with conversation beginning at 630pm.

Iain Payten will be in conversation with local stalwarts and rugby enthusiasts, Jack Ryan and Anna Dreverman, about writing and rugby.

Location: at the Occasional Wine Bar, Shop 2, Number 9 Marsden Street, Boorowa, 2586. Street parking available.

          SOLD OUT

Day Two:        Session Two

(All sessions will be held in the Wine Bar, Marsden Street)

Saturday, July 15, 10 am to 11am.

Ashley Kalagian Blunt in conversation with Ali Thomas, an almost local highschool English teacher now living in Wagga Wagga, about Ashley's novel and various themes like online safety, stalking and exotic plants.

Tickets: $10 per person, through website or at the door.

Break:     11 to 11.30am

Break for coffee or tea at the Courthouse Tea Rooms, or the General Store on Marsden, or Peppers Cafe or the Roadhouse Cafe.

Day Two:        Session Three

Saturday, July 15:    11.30 to 12.30

James McKenzie Watson in conversation with Gab Corcoran, originally from Boorowa and now completing her medical studies in Sydney and presently working as a psychiatric registrar, about themes like growing up in the bush and rural health, especially mental illness. 

Tickets: $10 per person, through website or at the door.

Break:          12.30 to 4.30

During the afternoon break we encourage visitors to explore our town, and feel free to ask us about what there is to see and do. Likewise we encourage people to explore the Hilltops region, from cellar doors at Ballinaclash Fruit and Wine (4321-4335 Olympic Hwy, Young NSW 2594)  Grove Estate (Murringo Road, Young) or Freeman Vineyards (Prunevale Rd, Prunevale, just outside of Young, and open only by appointment) to a regional art gallery at Murringo Barracks (2244 Murringo Road, Murringo), to the nearby towns and hamlets of Harden, Galong and Binalong. Or you might like to pop into one of our local pubs, the Ex-Services Club or the Sports Club.

Day Two         Session Four

Saturday, July 15:     4.30 to 5.30 pm

Podcast co-hosts and authors Ashley Kalagian Blunt and James McKenzie Watson in conversation with Jeremy Clarke, founder and licensee of the Absolutely Superb Bibliothèque and Occasional  Wine Bar and avid supporter of Australian writers, about the writing and reading relationship and the present landscape of Australian literary pursuits.

Tickets: $10 per person, through website or at the door.

Day Two    Session Five

Saturday, July 15:     5.45 to 6.45 pm

Hayley Scrivenor, winner of the 2023 Australian Book Industry Awards prize for General Fiction Book of the Year and a former Director of the Wollongong Writers' Festival, in conversation with Boorowa Rugby Club Secretary and pharmacist Stephanie Corcoran about literary festivals, Hayley's phenomenal success and their shared passion for reading.

Tickets: $10 per person, through website or at the door.

TICKETING:  each session is $10 per person, which can be purchased at the door, or as an early bird pre-purchase package for all sessions at $45 per person.

They can be bought online through the following link.

Iain Payten is a Senior Sports Writer with the Sydney Morning Herald and predominantly covers rugby union. He has over 25 years of experience, having written for the Australian, the Daily Mail (UK), the Daily Telegraph and Major event coverage includes Olympic Games, Commonwealth Games, Rugby Union World Cups, Cricket World Cups, State of Origin, NRL finals, Wallabies & Australian cricket tours.


Ashley Kalagian Blunt is a writer, speaker and podcaster. Her bestselling psychological thriller, Dark Mode, is out now in Australia and the UK, and forthcoming in Germany.

She is the author of two previous books, How to Be Australian, a memoir, and My Name Is Revenge, a thriller novella and collected essays.

Her writing appears widely across Australian and international publications.

Ashley is a frequent speaker and panel moderator, and co-hosts a podcast on writing, creativity and health. The podcast is called “James and Ashley stay at home” and is co-hosted by another of our festival’s authors, James McKenzie Watson.

James McKenzie Watson writes fiction with a focus on health and rural Australia. His novel Denizen won the 2021 Penguin Literary Prize and was published by Penguin Random House in 2022. Denizen also received a 2021 Varuna Residential Fellowship and a 2021 KSP Residential Fellowship.


 James has written for The Guardian, Meanjin, Kill Your Darlings and the Newtown Review of Books. He has appeared at events including the Sydney Writers Festival, Newcastle Writers Festival and BAD Crime Sydney. He co-hosts the writing and health podcast James and Ashley Stay at Home with author Ashley Kalagian Blunt and works as a nurse.

Hayley Scrivenor is a writer and a former Director of the Wollongong Writers Festival. Her debut novel DIRT TOWN is a #1 Australian bestseller and won the ABIA for General Fiction Book of the Year in 2023. Dirt Town is published in the United Kingdom, and the USA (Published as Dirt Creek in North America). Hayley has also previously presented at the Wine Bar as part of our author series, and we are delighted to welcome Hayley back.

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