Literature goes on and so must we!

The committee of Ballarat Writers Incorporated (BWI): Irene Warfe (chairperson) Philip Green and Rebecca Spark (who shared competitions officer this year) Joy Merritt, Rebecca Fletcher and Danielle O’Donnell were involved in promoting membership, running membership evenings once a month, planning workshops, running the Southern Cross Short Story Competition, a fundraising trivia night, and planning for 2018. The local business community showed good support of our fundraising efforts.

Members nights included readings from members, and special talks from Melbourne poet Peter Bakowski, and members Lynette McClenaghan, Craig Coulson and Neville Hiatt. Attendees enjoyed fun, conversation and raffles.

Our ongoing projects continued to provide interesting and encouraging activities for writers in 2017.


Words Out Loud, the local opportunity for members to share poetry and short pieces of writing with an enthusiastic audience, while enjoying a drink, a door prize, a laugh, and sometimes a tear (especially with the loss of a pillar of our local writing and musical community, Monica Langford), was held throughout 2017 on the third Thursday of each month. The venue throughout 2017 was the Babushka Lounge which unfortunately has closed down (thanks and a fond farewell). Congratulations to Kirsten McDermott, and Jason Nahrung for being organisers and stalwarts. The nights are well attended, and a commitment was made to find a home for 2018. A special mention belongs to Kirsten who during the year discovered she was the winner of the best horror novella in the 2016 Aurealis Awards for Burnt Sugar.

We are pleased to announce the 2018 Words Out Loud will be held in the The Printer’s Room beneath Sebastiaan’s in Lydiard Street (accessed from Camp Street) on the third Thursday of each month.


Write Club was held at Racer’s Café on most Sunday afternoons throughout 2017. From 2pm to 5pm aficionados of coffee and composition (not many words about writing start with c, okay?), wrote together and shared occasional conversation. Congratulations to Stephen Brown for continuing to host this, and for encouraging attendees. In 2018, Write Club will continue each Sunday afternoon between 2pm and 5pm at Racers Café on Lake Wendouree, cnr. of Webster Street and Lake Parade, just look for the quiet people with laptops and notebooks.


Critique groups were promoted by the committee of Ballarat Writers in 2017, resulting in one being formed which commenced in September. It consists of seven regular members who meet to give feedback on the structure and quality of each other’s writing, and to discuss and share knowledge about anything relevant to writing and the writers’ life.

In 2018, the first critique group which meets at Creswick at the Bean and Barrow on Saturdays at 11.30 am, each fortnight (the next will be on February 3rd) will continue.

A second critique group will commence in February. There are currently five members who have expressed a firm interest in attending the second group which leaves room for around five to seven more. This second group will be held on a Tuesday evening between 6 pm and 8 pm commencing on the 20th of February 2018. The first meeting of this second group will be held in the function room at the Bunch of Grapes Hotel.


A workshop with Maurilla Meehan was held in July: Writing Superb Short Stories. Eight members and friends attended this workshop held at MADE in Eureka Street Ballarat. Attendees experienced an interesting and fruitful time under the tutelage of Maurilla with the encouragement of other workshop attendees.

This workshop was held in the lead up to the biennial Southern Cross Literary Short Story Competition, as Maurilla was the judge of the 2018 competition.

Congratulations to the winner Suzannah Churchman, and runners up Kathy George, and Maryanne Ross (a local from Redan and BWI member). Many thanks to our readers who gave their full attention to our 119 entries — thanks to Susan Coleridge, Karen Sparnon, Delia Thornton, and Cate Whitehead.


The Pamela Miller Prize was held in November to finish off a year of Flash Fiction competitions held each month for Ballarat Writers members. Congratulations go to the winner of the 2017 Pamela Miller Prize, Jennifer Pont.


Finally, but certainly not least, a wonderful job was done by The Ballarat Writers Festival Committee, with the support of the BWI Committee, in the planning and execution of the 2017 Ballarat Writers’ Festival. David Twomey, Amber Wells, Irene Warfe, Laurie Warfe, Mary Debrett, and Heather Roche worked hard to put together a wonderful festival, held on October 21–22. The challenge was funding and we received marvellous support in both cash and kind from the Ballarat City Council, Federation University (with special thanks to Bryce Ives) Collins Books, ABC 107.9 FM, Museum of Australian Democracy at Eureka, Revolution Print, and Writers Victoria.  Special thanks belong to Angela Savage from Writers Victoria. Local volunteers assisted on the day along with other volunteers from as far away as Melbourne.

We were overwhelmed by the goodwill shown by presenters from all over Australia, and especially our local and Victorian state writers, to whom the festival committee has passed their personal thanks. All presenters gave great talks, and held informative workshops for festival attendees. You may read some of those wonderful authors’ writing in this blog as we move towards another great festival — the festival committee are planning future festivals, and we can’t wait to develop our local flavour while supporting great Australian writing.


If you would like to become a member of Ballarat Writers, or find out about upcoming events log onto, like us on Facebook, sign up for our newsletter or drop into the Bunch of Grapes on the last Wednesday of each month from January to November. The next night will be held in the function room at the Bunch of Grapes, Pleasant Street South, Ballarat, from 6pm on the 28th of February.


We like to think our local writers’ community is a treasure of skills and encouragement that can help you enjoy and reach your writing dreams. We need you as much as you need us (we like to think). Come along and join in, or create what captures your interest soon. Happy Writing!


Danielle Rebbechi was raised and lives in Victoria — as good an excuse as any for being literary. She is graduate of a Bachelor of Arts majoring in film and literature.  When she’s not out and about being amused and horrified by fellow humans, she’s at home, in a library, or a café scribbling or typing away.  She gets kicks from travelling overseas and volunteering at home.  Danielle considers serious writing gigs at, and has fun with short fiction at