This month, I attended the Northern Territory Writers Festival.
Flying into Alice Springs, I was blown away by the beautiful colours and textures of the landscape. I spent the morning at a delicious breakfast held for the writers and had fun with Abbie Gosling from the Writers Centre and author Chris Flynn. I spent the rest of the day with amazing students from various local schools at the Alice Springs Public Library.
On my second day, I attended the opening of the Writers Festival in the glorious Olive Pink Botanic Garden. In the afternoon, I taught a Chinese Painting Workshop.
The next day, Celia Otley from the CBCA, who has been so kind to drive me around, took Yumna Kassab, Chris Flynn and myself to the old telegraph station. It was raining on and off with occasional rumbles in the distance when suddenly a fork of lightning zig-zagged to earth, followed by a crack of thunder. We raced for cover. That was a bit too close for comfort!
Afterwards, Yumna Kassab and I shared a panel session titled ‘Interweaving Cultures’ moderated by Lisa Stefanoff. The hour-long conversation went by too fast!
The Festival’s closing ceremony took place under the stars, with Rita Horanyi thanking the many people who made the Festival happen. It was wonderful meeting staff, audience members and fellow authors. I love the intimacy of regional festivals.
On my last day in NT’s beautiful desert paradise, I chatted with Grades 7-8 students, followed by Grades 3-6 from School of the Air – this was a highlight of my entire visit! What a fantastic bunch of kids. The School of the Air Alice Springs was the first of its kind in Australia, beginning more than 70 years ago. It is known as the world’s largest classroom. Some students beamed in from as far away as Fiji and Papua New Guinea. Others were on remote cattle stations, and many were in Yulara, the tourist village outside Uluru. There were some very keen writers and artists who shared their WIPs with us all. I also visited the great kids at OLSH school Traeger campus. Then, in the evening, I was invited out to dine with the lovely members of the local CBCA branch.
Before flying home, Celia Otley from the CBCA, my tour guide and all-round lovely companion while I was in NT, took me to Stanley Chasm. The Western Arrernte people are its original owners, and it is traditionally known as Angkerle Atwatye, meaning the Gap of Water. Stanley Chasm is located in a reserve privately owned by the Iwupataka Land Trust. I will miss this beautiful part of the world!
I am so thankful to everyone involved in making my visit to the NT Writers Festival one I will cherish forever.
– Gabi X