2019 Festival of Stories

The Island Story Gatherers Inc hosted the Festival from the 26, 27, 28 July at the Cowes Cultural Centre, Phillip Island. View the 2019 Festival of Stories program


Uncle Jack Charles – a proud Boon Wurrung & Dja Dja Wurrung man.
Interview with Kutcha Edwards (Saturday), Conversation about Sovereignty & Treaty Panel (Sunday).

Uncle Shane Clarke – a proud Bunurong, Mutti Mutti, Wamba Wamba, Yorta Yorta man.
Welcome to Country (Friday Opening Ceremony), Conversation about Sovereignty & Treaty Panel (Sunday).

Author Tom Keneally Opening Friday Night Keynote Speaker and Monsarrat series (Saturday)

Tom Keneally’s first novel was published in 1964. Since then he has written a considerable number of novels and non-fiction works, including The Chant of Jimmie BlacksmithSchindler’s List and The People’s Train. He has won the Miles Franklin Award, the Booker Prize, the Los Angeles Times Prize, the Mondello International Prize and is now the subject of a 55 cent Australian stamp.

Tom Keneally is also the co-author, with daughter Meg Keneally, of the Monsarrat Series of historical crime novels.

Author Meg KeneallyOpening Friday Night Keynote Speaker and Monsarrat series (Saturday)

Meg started her working life as a junior public affairs officer at the Australian Consulate-General in New York, before moving to Dublin to work as a sub-editor and freelance features writer. In Australia, Meg has worked as a general news reporter, a talkback radio producer, co-founded a financial services PR company and found time to be a part-time SCUBA diving instructor. Meg Keneally is also the co-author, with father Tom Keneally, of the Monsarrat Series of historical crime novels.


‘I used to care about stuff – have opinions, blah-blah-blah, but when I turned 60 I suddenly felt tired, I mean really really tired, and one day I went for a lie down on the bed and well, two years later I was still kind of just lying there. It was all I wanted to do – lie in bed … and drink, and let me tell you, it’s not easy to do, thank God for bendy straws! Weirdly it was at this point, whilst laying there doing absolutely nothing, that work opportunities came my way and I was forced back out into the world once more.’

Author Bryan DaweMC for Opening Friday night

An inveterate traveller and photographer, Bryan was born in Port Adelaide and worked in Adelaide and London before returning to Melbourne as the Senior Executive for Lunch & Dinner for Astor Records. After four years Bryan retired (hurt) and spent 10 years travelling and writing songs.
He also met Mr John Clarke and spent the next 27 years with the aforementioned trying to get politicians to put their hands up on the table where we could all see them. Hasn’t worked thus far, but he will keep trying…

Musician Kutcha EdwardsConversation about Sovereignty and Treaty (Sunday)

Chris Flynn MC for Saturday

Chris Flynn is an author, editor and critic. His first novel, A Tiger in Eden, was released in 2012 and shortlisted for the Commonwealth Book Prize. His second novel, The Glass Kingdom, was released in 2014, with a new novel, Mammoth, due out in May next year. He regularly writes reviews for The Saturday Paper and Australian Book Review.
Chris is also a resident of Phillip Island.

Comedian Kevin Kropinyeri – MC for Saturday

Kevin is one of Australia’s most established and popular Aboriginal comedians with a long list of Australian TV credits. He is a proud Aboriginal man from the Ngarrindjeri Nation of the lower River Murray, Lakes and Coorong region in South Australia.

A high-energy performer, Kevin is sharp, likeable, silly and measured; mixing keen observational standup with joyfully ridiculous physical comedy. His engaging brand of comedy warmly invites both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal audiences to share his journey, his culture, his life.

Catherine Watson – MC for Sunday

Catherine Watson is the publisher of Bass Coast Post, an online magazine written by and for residents of the Bass Coast Shire. A journalist and editor, she has written and edited seven books in the fields of biography, local and corporate history and the environment.



Adam Cope has been writing for as long as he can remember. Originally the writing was done in his head as he has not always had access to a method of putting his thoughts down on paper. But as soon as he was able to, he wrote many poems expressing how he felt about life, love and current affairs. For Adam, writing is empowering and he is able to create metaphoric places which come alive and sing their own song.

Adam has published three books, ‘Windows’, ‘Colours’ and ‘Life’.


Critically acclaimed spoken word artist, published poet, and cabaret starlet Amy Bodossian is an eccentric and unforgettable performer who’s been captivating audiences for over 10 years with her uniquely wacky, whimsical, heart wrenching and hilarious performances.

She’s appeared on ABC’s Spicks and Specks and Please Like Me, performed at major festivals across Australia, and headlined most of Melbourne’s top poetry events.


Anna Snoekstra was born in Canberra, Australia to two civil servants. At the age of seventeen, she decided to avoid a full-time job and a steady wage to move to Melbourne and become a writer.

Her first novel Only Daughter was released in 2016, and is currently in the works to be turned into a feature film with Universal Pictures. Her second, the acclaimed Little Secrets, was released in 2017. 2018 was a bumper year for Anna,she released her first novel for Young Adults, Mercy Point, and the twisty and suspenseful The Spite Game. Anna is a member of Sisters in Crime.


Beau Vernon suffered a spinal cord injury while playing Australian Rules Football in 2012, leaving him a quadriplegic.

As Senior Head Coach of the Phillip Island Football Club, Beau took his team to the 2018 Premiership. He presents motivational speeches at schools, personal development days with businesses, awards nights, and for disability awareness. He is also a Pride of Australia medal holder, father of two, and an active sportsman.


Dave Sweeney has been active in mining, resource and nuclear issues for three decades through his work with the media, trade unions and environment groups. He is a foundation member of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons which was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2017. Dave also leads the Australian Conservation Foundation’s nuclear free campaign.


Ellie Marney is a teacher and a highly-awarded author of crime fiction for Young Adults.A long-term member of Sisters in Crime, she has released nine books, including the Every Breath series, No Limits and White Night. Ellie has been involved in the creation of the national campaign called ‘LoveOzYA’ to promote and advocate for Australian YA literature and runs the popular ‘LoveOzYAbookclub’ online. Ellie lives in north-central Victoria with her partner and their four sons, and her most recent release is the Circus Hearts series.


Commander Grant Edwards is a highly decorated Australian Federal Police Officer, former elite athlete and strongman competitor, and an ambassador for mental health services in policing and first responders.

‘The Strong Man’ is the story of an extraordinary man and his extraordinary battle back from the brink.

JEFF HANSEN – Managing Director, Sea Shepherd Australia 

Jeff Hansen joined Sea Shepherd (SS) in 2007 as a ground support volunteer in the Perth and his passion for marine conservation was quickly noticed. 

His role as Quartermaster saw Jeff facilitate a strategic call which resulted in discovering the centerpiece of the whaling fleet, the Nissan Maru. Upon returning, Sea Shepherd’s leader Captain Paul Watson offered Jeff the position of Australian Director.


Jeremy Wiggins is a LGBTIQ community advocate and the first transgender Australian to become a Churchill Fellow in 2017. In 2018 he was named as the Victorian LGBTI Person of the Year. Jeremy is the Co-Chair of the national trans masculine sexual health advocacy group PASH.tm where he was involved in creating the first national sexual health campaign. Jeremy was also the Founding Editor of DUDE Magazine which helped build a movement to increase awareness of trans masculinity.

Jeremy works in the health sector on LGBTI health and also freelances as a Project Management Consultant, Educator and Public Speaker. Jeremy is a proud father of 6 year old twins. 

JOHN LANEThe Trouble With Trying to Be Goodand my love affair with the Ukulele…“

John Lane has worked as a professional performer, and director of community arts projects. Way back he did a few years of Medicine at Monash University, but chucked it in and joined a travelling theatre company in Queensland. His gigs and projects took him to outdoor festivals across Australia and in the USA; into mining towns, schools, campuses, meat-works, prisons, hospitals, parks and gardens; onto trams, buses, ferries and trains, and even occasionally into theatres. After nearly three decades of the life of a freelancing artist, John’s path inexorably led him back to working in the health sector, and since 2000 he has been employed as the Artistic Coordinator of the Festival for Healthy Living program with the Royal Children’s Hospital Mental Health Service; involving the creation and coordination of arts and wellbeing projects in over 35 disadvantaged communities across Victoria.

Michael Veitch – “Hell Ship – The Journey of the Ticonderoga

Michael Veitch is a multi-talented comedian, author, broadcaster and TV presenter. He’s also worked as a columnist and theatre critic for several newspapers before embarking on his first major writing project, ‘Flak’, collecting the untold stories of Second World War airmen. Michael has also hosted Australia’s national TV arts show, Sunday Arts, and worked on ABC Radio. Michael’s latest work is Hell Ship, the true story of the plague ship Ticonderoga, one of the most calamitous voyages in Australian history.

MELISSA LUCASHENKOToo Much Lip – on Aboriginal Hillbilly humour, family trauma and more

Melissa Lucashenko is an acclaimed Aboriginal writer of Goorie and European heritage. Melissa has been widely published as an award-winning novelist, essayist and short story writer. Her recent work has appeared in The Moth: Fifty True Stories, Meanjin, Griffith Review, and The Saturday Paper.

Her recent publication Too Much Lip gradually and explosively reveals painful secrets in a calamitous Aboriginal family. Gritty and darkly hilarious, Too Much Lip has been shortlisted for the Stella Prize and the NSW Literary Awards and is a contender for the Miles Franklin Award.


Forwarded by Melbourne University as a ‘leading Australian thinker’, Munya Andrews is an Indigenous author and barrister with degrees in anthropology and law.

Munya is a Bardi woman from the Kimberley region of Western Australia. She specialises in Indigenous cultural awareness and training with her business consultancy Evolve Communities.

Munya’s life purpose is to create better understanding and appreciation of Aboriginal people and to leave behind a legacy of Dreamtime wisdom for generations to come.


Olivia De Lesantis, at 15 years of age, was awarded the Fleurier Consult Young Writers’ Award for “Wayward”, at the 2018 Sisters in Crime’s 25th Scarlet Stiletto Awards for best crime and mystery short stories by Australian women. “Wayward” is set in the slums of 1930s’ Collingwood and follows unsung teenage heroine Bonnie Wilmot as she uncovers the truth of what really happened to her sister.

Olivia, from Thornbury, is an aspiring crime writer and ardent feminist. She spends most of her time reading beside her two cats, whilst undertaking her high school studies and loves everything vintage.  


Patrice Mahoney is a Nganyaywana, Dgungutti, Gomilaroi woman from Armidale NSW who now lives on Phillip Island. She is a speaker for active change, artist, motivator, educator, teacher and mother. She manages the local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders community – Biik Banny Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community.



Pamela is a fourth generation Phillip Islander who returned to the island as a permanent resident 15 years ago. Pam served the local community as Mayor of Bass Coast Shire Council from 2016 to 2018 and continues to represent the Island Ward, which covers most of Phillip Island.

Pam’s passion is local and family history. She took on the roles of secretary and treasurer of the Phillip Island Cemetery Trust almost seven years ago and has a deep connection with the Cemetery, having four generations of ancestors resting there, including her great-great grandmother.


Peggy Frew has a strong connection with Phillip Island, which features as a setting of her novel, Islands, published by Allen & Unwin in March, 2019.  Peggy Frew’s work Hope Farm was shortlisted for the 2016 Miles Franklin Award while her debut novel, House of Sticks was the winner of the unpublished manuscript award at the 2010 Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards.

Peggy is also a member of the critically acclaimed and award-winning Melbourne band Art of Fighting, which in June released a fourth album, Luna Low, on Remote Control Records.


Dr Rebecca Huntley is one of Australia’s foremost researchers on social trends. She holds degrees in law and film studies and has a PhD in gender studies. She is the author of numerous books including Still Lucky and QE73 Australia Fair: Listening to the Nation.

Rebecca writes and podcasts for The Guardian Australia and writes for ABC Life. She was former presenter of Drive on a Friday on ABC Radio National and now presents The History Listen on ABC RN.

PROFESSOR RICHARD TANTERAbolishing nuclear weapons, dealing with Pine Gap, and a Nobel Peace Prize

Professor Richard Tanter is a writer, researcher, and activist. He has worked on issues around militarization in Asia, nuclear weapons, and the role of intelligence agencies in Indonesia, Japan and Australia.

More recently Richard and the late Des Ball produced eight forensic research papers on Pine Gap. This work underpinned Richard’s campaign role with other colleagues on the Australian board of ICAN. In 2017, ICAN was awarded the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize for its work in helping in the passage of the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons at the United Nations.


Sally-Anne hung up her apron as loveable Mrs Brill in Mary Poppins to enter the award winning Wentworth prison as the new gruff inmate Lucy Gambaro. She’s been nominated for a Greenroom Award for her role as Widow Corney in Oliver and her portrayal of Yenta in Fiddler on the Roof was considered a tour de force.

Sally-Anne is an authorised Commonwealth Marriage and funeral Celebrant, proud president of the Victorian Actors Benevolent Trust Charity and still practices as an RN Division 2 nurse.


Sue Maslin AO is one of Australia’s most successful film, television and digital content producers with a track record of creating award winning feature and documentary films. Her most recent is the smash hit The Dressmaker, starring Kate Winslet and Judy Davis.

Reflecting her commitment to advocacy for women, Sue is currently a Patron of Women In Film and Television and the President of the Natalie Miller Fellowship. In 2019 Sue was appointed as an Officer (AO) of the Order of Australia for distinguished service to the Australian film industry as a producer, and through roles with professional bodies. 


Tjanara is a Wakka Wakka Wulli Wulli Traditional Custodian from Central Queensland who was born in the outback at Longreach.  Tjanara is an Adjunct Assistant Professor at the University of Canberra and an academic researcher at the ANUs Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research in Canberra. Tjanara  has been an academic lecturer  at five Australian Universities and worked in remote Aboriginal communities.

A Long Way From No Go’ (Wild Dingo Press) is the memoir of an Aboriginal woman who began life without any of the advantages of her fellow non-Indigenous Australians; except for grit, humour and diverse talent in spades.

We acknowledge and respect the land we walk on today – the land of the Bunurong / Boon Wurrung peoples and pass on respect to their elders past and present.

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