Month: March 2020

Ballarat Writers online meetings

Unfortunately, the uncertainty of Victoria’s COVID-19 situation has forced Ballarat Writers to cancel its scheduled monthly members meetings until further notice.

Consequently, a Members Night (substitute) Group Chat via Zoom is being held instead, from 7pm on the last Wednesday of each month.

Please see your newsletter or drop us a line here or on Facebook for details if you don’t have them already.

Note: our regular venue, the Bunch of Grapes hotel, is doing takeaway during lockdown.

Write Club

Members are invited to visit the Facebook page on Sundays 2-5pm to share writing time and discussion. Note: our regular venue, Racers, is doing takeaway, including dinners some nights a week.

Ballarat Flash

Our monthly members-only flash writing contest is proceeding as usual. Please see the website for details.

Tuning in from home

We also have a list of online events and opportunities to engage with the writing community. Please let us know if you’ve come across other great resources.

Tuning in from home

As we maintain our physical social distancing, here are some options for keeping a finger on the pulse of the writing community online.

Most writers centres are offering webinars on craft and industry topics in lieu of face-to-face workshops. Check out Writers Victoria’s offerings at the website.

Online critique or writing races: tap a friend or three and share some words for feedback, or set a date and time to “meet” online to knock out some wordage and share some messages of encouragement. Or pick a contest from our competitions page, get a posse together and brainstorm and workshop each other’s entries.


The Wheeler Centre runs a fortnightly offshoot of last year’s Broadside Festival, Broadly Speaking, on issues of feminism and gender.

Dymocks is running online author interviews in its Chapter One program.

Clunes Booktown is running Sunday author sessions online and has put together a bookclub hub.

The Guardian has a rolling list of streaming events in the arts and literature and welcomes additions.

The Wheeler Centre has new and archived livestreams available at its website.

The Garrett presents regular interviews with “writers on writing”.

The First Time Podcast talks to writers and industry insiders about first-time publications.

Bendigo Writers Festival is running a Backstory program of writer interviews.

Adelaide Writers Week has made many of its events from this year available online.

The Queenscliffe Literary Festival has had to cancel, but is running an online book club.

The Facebook group Writers Go Forth. Launch. Promote. Party. is promoting writers, especially those whose new books and launch events have been disrupted by COVID-19.

The Social Distancing Festival lists online activities by artists from around the world.

More festival news at this calendar


Writing prompts and other cool material with which to while away lockdown couresty of Suleika Jaouad

Melbourne Spoken Word is running a channel on Twitch for live poetry readings with plenty of open mic opportunities. It also has an audio journal, Audacious, of spoken word and poetry from various gigs.

Hundreds of free audio books on Audible

The State Library of Victoria has tooled up its online offerings.

The National Gallery of Victoria has a rolling banquet of art and music drawing on its collections and exhibitions.

The Victoria Together website has plenty going on, collecting online offerings from readings and stand-up comedy to movies and livestreamed animal action.

Favourite kids books read by famous actors at Storyline Online

Poetry readings at Poetry Unbound

Ballarat’s Megan J. Riedl is sharing daily ‘Pandemic Poetry’ on her Facebook page

Come across great online content to help inspire your writing? Please share it with us so we can spread the good word! Leave a comment on this post or email publicty AT

BONUS CRITTERS: At the risk of distracting from writing time, Melbourne Zoo is livestreaming footage from some of its animal enclosures – including penguins and OMG snow leopard kittens!

Members’ book discounts

If ever there was a time for saving money on books, this could be it (who are we kidding? It’s always the season for buying books, right?).

So members, please remember that these businesses are supporters of Ballarat Writers and offer a 10% discount if you show your current membership card.

March members night cancelled

In light of current advice about trying to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-1), the committee has cancelled the members’ night scheduled for next Wednesday, March 25.

This is a blow for our members and our venue, but the committee feels the response is appropriate at this stage of the crisis.

The committee also suggests Sunday Write Club gatherings might best not be held in a shared space, given the importance of keeping a social distance at this critical time in the mitigation effort, but online options, such as writing at a common time and sharing word counts, could be investigated.

BW’s friends at Words Out Loud have also cancelled their March event, scheduled for March 19 in Creswick, and are taking a watch-and-see approach to the April event, back in Ballarat.

Likewise, BW will follow expert advice over the coming weeks in deciding whether April’s members’ night will run as scheduled.

The flash fiction contest is open for voting and will be announced at the usual time, and a contest for next month will be run as usual.

Useful links:
Further information about COVID-19 in Australia is available at the federal government website.

Arts practitioners who have lost work or are feeling the strain can get information at I Lost My Gig.

Book review: The Drover’s Wife by Leah Purcell

The Drover’s Wife: The Legend of Molly Johnson

Author: Leah Purcell

Publisher: Penguin Books Australia, 2019

the drover's wife by leah purcell

Leah Purcell is an award-winning writer and has a background as a playwright, actor and film producer amongst other achievements.  This novel has been adapted for film, which is slated for release this year.

This historical fiction novel, based on a short story written by Henry Lawson, provides a stark sense of our history, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous. Set in the late 1800s, The Drover’s Wife tells of the harsh and almost impossible conditions that were endured during white settlement. The plot focuses mainly on Molly Johnson who, with her children, waits for her husband to return from months away droving. They live in an isolated hut in the High Country where, with the help of her eldest son, Danny, Molly and the children survive and cope on their own, including the birthing of a baby.

A visitor arrives unexpectedly. Yodaka is keen to be away from civilisation and begs time to recover from the injuries he’s received on the run. Eventually Molly discovers that Yodaka is the holder of knowledge that Molly eventually understands.

The book depicts the best and worst of human behaviour: cruelty, degradation, humour, love and a will to survive. The intriguing plot invites the reader to travel in the shoes of the tenacious and suffering Molly Johnson, the drover’s wife.

This story lingered in my thoughts for weeks after finishing the novel and I quickly fell back into the emotive ambience of the book while writing this review. I loved the book – it made me think yet again about colonisation and our (I’m a white Australian) role that has never been fully owned up to. The writer integrated and treated the issues of women and their place in history and society with clarity and directness.

Thanks, Leah Purcell. I couldn’t put this book down.

Reviewed by:

Heather Whitford Roche, Jan 2020

Ballarat Writers Inc. Book review group

© 2023 Ballarat Writers

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑