Take your mind for a swim


THE MIND SWIMS implies a state of restless inquiry, of roving exploration, both real and metaphysical. It speaks to transitions: the rise and fall of the tides; from one phase of life to the next; from one way of being to another. It playfully gestures at the human urge to move and explore. 

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Now in its third year, in 2023 Words on the Waves Writers Festival will welcome an impressive gathering of Australia’s best authors and journalists to the Central Coast from Wednesday May 31 to Monday June 5.

With close to 75 speakers across around 65 free and ticketed sessions exploring the theme, THE MIND SWIMS, the festival program and tickets were released on Friday April 21 and free events went live Friday April 28. 

THE MIND SWIMS implies a state of restless inquiry, of roving exploration, both real and metaphysical. It speaks to transitions: the rise and fall of the tides; from one phase of life to the next; from one way of being to another. It playfully gestures at the human urge to move and explore. 

Many of the writers at Words on the Waves Writers Festival 2023 allude to this in some way. Some literally: the founder of the Kindness Factory Kath Koschel shares tales from her epic trip around Australia relying on the generosity of strangers.

Frontier cameleers are tracked by Ryan Butta (The Ballad of Abdul Wade), and we follow refugee advocate Om Dhungel’s journey From Bhutan to Blacktown.

Bestselling author Pip Williams (The Dictionary of Lost Words, One Italian Summer), humourist Todd Alexander and Rachael Mogan McIntosh (Pardon My French) all take us to a magical ‘elsewhere’ in search of the good life. 

Some theoretically: we shift from present to imagined futures with the work of Claire G. Coleman and Inga Simpson, and from one stage of life to the next with lauded poet Sarah Holland-Batt.

We swim through Sydney’s underbelly with acclaimed playwright Louis Nowra and award-winning novelists Mandy Sayer and Fiona Kelly McGregor (Iris).

And we ponder the human capacity for change despite immense hardship in Miles Franklin Award-winning author of Bodies of Light, Jennifer Down. 

There are many more: actor and national treasure Heather Mitchell will speak to her superb new memoir, Everything and Nothing; author of Jasper Jones and Honeybee Craig Silvey joins us from Western Australia; fellow music lovers Bertie Blackman and Jonathan Seidler and Holly Throsby each share insight into their latest releases; Burruberongal writer of Benevolence Julie Janson takes us into the world of her Indigenous crime fiction; while thriller writers JP Pomare, Dinuka McKenzie and Petronella McGovern will have us on the edge of our seats.


* OPENING ADDRESS, In Partnership with THE ART HOUSE WYONG, Wednesday May 31, 7pm – 8pm, featuring Claire G. Coleman (Enclave), Diana Reid (Love & Virtue) and Tracey Spicer (Man-Made) speaking to the festival theme (new event)

* STORY CLUB, Ocean Beach Surf Lifesaving Club, Friday June 2, from 7:30pm, the hit storytelling sensation comes to the Central Coast with host Zoe Norton Lodge (new event)

* DAY PASS & WEEKEND PASS, two full days of author talks at venues boasting 180 degree coastal views, Saturday June 3 and Sunday June 4, Ocean Beach Surf Lifesaving Club and Umina Beach Surf Lifesaving Club, 10am – 4pm 

* WRITING UP STREAM, a Professional Development Day In Partnership with FABER ACADEMY and WRITING NSW with an Inside Publishing Panel, Editing Workshop with Ellen O’Brien, and Novel Workshop with Eleanor Limprecht (The Coast), Jasmine Greens, Saturday June 3, all day (new program)

* A CONVERSATION WITH CRAIG SILVEY, Naughty Noodle Fun Haus, Saturday June 3, 8pm – 9pm, bestselling author Craig Silvey discusses Honeybee with Kaya Wilson (new date)

* FAMILY FUN DAY, Everglades Woy Woy, Sunday June 4, all day, a fun and inclusive day of storytelling, author presentations, book launches and roving performers. Program announced 28 April 2023.


This year the festival is working with local Point Clare artist Minka Gillian for the lush 2023 festival branding. You can see more about her here: https://www.minkagillian.com/


Words on the Waves Writers Festival is a celebration of words and ideas set on the scenic Central Coast. 

The festival spans two full days of author talks and panels. It offers special events including an evening conversation event, a literary cruise, family fun day, book launches and more taking place on either side of the weekend.

Words on the Waves is a not-for-profit literary festival, the first of its kind for the Central Coast region.

Its mission is to deliver an immersive annual festival of stories, ideas and connection, to enrich the cultural landscape of the region year-round. Its vision is to become one of Australia’s leading regional literary festivals, known for its vibrant and diverse program as well as its unique setting.

When: Wednesday May 31 – Monday June 5, 2023

Where: Ocean Beach Surf Life Saving Club

176 The Esplanade 

Umina Beach NSW 2257


Umina Beach Surf Life Saving Club

509 Ocean Beach Rd

Umina Beach NSW 2257

As well as select venues around the Central Coast, NSW:

* The Art House, Wyong

* Naughty Noodle Fun Haus, Ettalong Beach

* Bar Toto, Ettalong Beach

* Woy Woy Library, Woy Woy

* Kincumber Library, Kincumber

* University of Newcastle (Ourimbah Campus)

* And more (check the website for more information)

Ticket information


Saturday pass (4 sessions across 2 venues) $89 + booking fee

Sunday pass  (4 sessions across 2 venues) $89 + booking fee

Weekend pass (8 sessions across 2 venues) $160 + booking fee

Writing Workshop $59 + booking fee

Late Night Lit $15 + booking fee

Story Club $20 + booking fee

Evening Conversation $25 + booking fee

Opening Address $30 + booking fee

Writing Up Stream Inside Publishing Panel $10 + booking fee


Free events

More information

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