Be quick or be dead when it comes to buying a Festival 5 Pack. I’ve only just learnt how speedy you need to be, with two of my top choices already sold out. So if you’re reading this sentence, don’t. Better to act now. Go forth and herd thy five cats, take a Snapchat, and enjoy your Fest. Otherwise you’ll be licking your wounds at leisure.

Dylan Thomas 100: Contemporary Welsh Literature

Under Milkwood hypnotised me as a teenage verbivore, so there must be something in this Welsh lit-thing. Just love the Welsh voice too; a pity our former PM Julia Gillard never had a chance to retain hers. So why not take a punt on the people who gave us such words as penguin and corgi, and swim in the words of Rachel Tresize and Desmond Barry?


Garrets, schmarrets. Struggling artists don’t live in Tribeca lofts or ivory towers. Instead they house-share and tend bar, telemarket, paint houses and write that opus magnus amid BAS scams. At least, that’s how I figure it goes. But I’m eager to hear The Bedroom Philosopher, Clem Bastow, John Safran, and more, about how they survived our brutal system.

Talking Points: How TV Got Great

OK, I’ve learnt my lesson. Emily Nussbaum, the telly writer for The New Yorker, was a sellout in her principal session. So I’ve set my sights on this offshoot confab with Emily and Fairfax critic, Melinda Houston. Sure, I love my binge-watching as much as the next couch potato. The Sopranos is as rich as any novel. But seriously, if this session is a sellout, then Houston, we have a problem.

Paddy O’Reilly: In Conversation

During the 90s, whenever I entered short story contests, I’d always miss the podium’s top tier. Mainly because that space seemed the domain of one Paddy O’Reilly. Paddy is a local gem, an Andamooka opal, and here’s your chance to hear how she does it. Then try (in vain) to beat her at her own glorious game. Her third novel, The Wonders, sounds wicked.

Great Journeys: Mountains

Back in February I trekked with my son to Everest Base Camp, some 5400 metres above sea-level. (Sounds impressive if you subtract the porters and hot lunches.) Nonetheless the scenery was bewitching, and a man like Andrew Lock has crested the majestic best of it. I love mountains. They soothe and inspire all in one. And if you can’t scale the highest, then why not hear from a man who has breathed that rarest of airs?


Purchase your Festival Pass & Pack here.

David Astle will lead ‘Molly Oldfield: Secret Museum’, ‘Cryptic Crossword Masterclass’ and ‘Philip Hensher: Handwriting’ as part of Melbourne Writers Festival.

Follow David @dontattempt