Upcoming Events

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Sundowner with Anne Summers AO

Join us for a compelling conversation with the trailblazer Anne Summers. This is a rare opportunity to hear Anne speak about her life and discuss her inspiring book; Alive and Unfettered, a memoir. Her new book reveals stories about the famous and powerful people she has worked with or reported on. Anne is refreshingly frank about her own anxieties and mistakes as well as her, at times, heart-breaking family story of violence and ultimately reconciliation. There will be an opportunity to ask questions and Anne will also be signing copies of her memoir.

Described by many as the godmother of Australian feminism, Anne Summers is coming north on a national book tour. Anne is an international best-selling author, editor, publisher and thought-leader with a long career in the media, politics and business in Australia, Europe and the United States.

Rydges Esplanade Resort, Cairns
MON 5 NOV, 5.30 pm - 7.30 pm

Drink on arrival followed by canapes.

Past Events

Festival Weekend Pass

Grab a Weekend Pass for the biennial Cairns Tropical Writers Festival.
An initiative of Tropical Writers Inc., this year celebrates the 10-year anniversary of this major literary event in the northern Queensland region, with local and visiting national and international authors.
10 - 12 AUG 2018, Hilton, Cairns.

Check out all Festival Sessions

Check out sessions page of our website.

Showcasing ALL the activities and sessions for the festival, including free events, events with Weekend Pass access and ticketed events.


Breakfast with Julian Burnside AO QC

TICKETS CLOSED - Enquiries: 0476 378 975

Julian will speak on the topic:
Where are we going? - indefinite detention has been practised harshly since 2001; offshore processing has been the order of the day since 2013. Our response to refugees has been conspicuously and deliberately cruel. We are betraying our image of ourselves. We are now seen overseas as cruel and selfish. What will it take to end this?

Julian Burnside is celebrated nationally for his work as a barrister in Australia, as well as a human rights and refugee advocate, and author. His legal practice is principally in commercial litigation, trade practices and administrative law.

He is also well known for his strong opposition to the mandatory detention of asylum seekers, and has provided legal counsel in a wide variety of high-profile cases.

FRI 10 AUG, 7.00 am - 9.00 am

MASTERCLASS: An Introduction to Screenwriting

SCHOOLS: Years 11 and 12 Students


This practical workshop introduces students to the art and craft of writing stories for the screen. Focussing on key areas such as character, structure and dialogue, it will guide students through the core aspects of building a screenplay - and will allow them to develop an idea for a short film. Creative writing exercises will be used to help students learn the craft of screenwriting, and clips will be used to illustrate key points. Students will complete the workshop with a better understanding of how successful screenplays are carefully - and painstakingly - crafted.

FRI 10 AUG, 9.00 am - 12.30 pm

Bookings via REACH FNQ

One-to-One: Manuscript Assessment


Award-winning, internationally published author, Aleesah, has published over forty books, works as a writing mentor and tutor, and runs her own speakers agency for authors and illustrators. She has extensive experience in and knowledge of the Australian publishing industry.

Submit your manuscript to Aleesah to receive crucial feedback on plot, structure, character and setting. This feedback will help you lift your story to the next level and prepare it for submission to publishers.
Genres: adult, memoir, non-fiction, young adult, children’s and picture books.

- Manuscripts to be submitted by 5pm Thursday 9 August for pre-reading by Aleesah.
- A short, written report will be included as part of your assessment.

FRI 10 AUG, Meetings will be set between 3.30 pm - 5.00 pm

MASTERCLASS Playwriting: Characters and Turning Points

In this half-day masterclass,
award-winning playwright Hannie Rayson will help you hone your techniques for creating a dynamic and engaging play.

FRI 10 AUG, 9.00 am - 12.30 pm


TICKETS CLOSED - Enquiries: 0476 378 975

Jane Caro is a writer, speaker, social commentator and broadcaster. She is a feminist, an atheist and an advocate for public education. She has written co-authored and edited nine books, was an award-winning advertising copywriter and appears regularly on Australian television and radio.

Jane's appearance at this lunch is based on two of her books:
Destroying the Joint: Why women have to change the world (2013)
“Unbreakable” Women Share Stories of Resilience and Hope (2017)

FRI 10 AUG, 12.00 pm - 2.00 pm

WORKSHOP: Making Picture Books

PRIMARY SCHOOL: Years 2 - 6 Students

Making picture books is fun! Here, Aleesah Darlison provides an insight into how picture books are made. Students are led through exercises to create their own picture book, designing and illustrating the front cover, creating a blurb, and writing and illustrating a simple story.

FRI 10 AUG, 9.30 am - 11.00 am

Bookings via REACH FNQ

WORKSHOP: Write your own Awesome Animal Story

PRIMARY SCHOOL: Years 2 - 6 Students


Aleesah is famous for her many and varied animal stories: from non-fiction narratives, to picture books, short stories and novels. In this session, children give their imaginations a workout creating animal characters, names and a host of other features before writing a story featuring their new animal creation.

FRI 10 AUG, 12.30 pm - 2.00 pm

Bookings via REACH FNQ

Colin Roderick Memorial Lecture


At this free event, Alexis will be ‘in conversation’ about her writing life with Roger Osborne of JCU.

Alexis Wright, a Waanyi woman, was winner of the Miles Franklin and 6 other awards for her book Carpentaria in 2007, and won the 2018 Stella Award for her book Tracker.

FRI 10 AUG, 6.30 pm - 8.30 pm



WORKSHOP: Digital Storytelling - Bringing Characters to Life

How to free your inner character to act as a channel, mediator, raconteur that has a virtual life of their own beyond your story.

SAT 11 AUG, 9.00 am - 10.30 am

MASTERCLASS Writing Fiction: Playing in Limitless Space

Fiction offers enormous possibilities in form, content, language and style.

In this half-day masterclass, Ashley provides a range of clear tools and strategies to help you collect story ideas and to explore the possibilities of stories you already know, stories you’ve dreamed of, or stories you need to discover — and to keep your fiction moving once it’s underway.

SAT 11 AUG, 9.30 am - 12.30 pm

WORKSHOP: Introduction to writing for children

Do you dream of becoming a published children’s author? Are you keen to write a picture book, or a novel for pre-teens or young adults? Do you need advice about the submission process, publishers, contracts and agents? Attend this workshop and have all your questions answered.

Join Aleesah Darlison – award-winning, multi-published children’s author – for an eye-opening and very practical introduction to writing for children. Aleesah has published forty books for children of all ages and has also had numerous short stories and articles published in magazines, newspapers and anthologies. Aleesah will demystify the children’s publishing industry by explaining who the major players are, the formats and word lengths for various age groups and genres, how to structure submissions and who to send your work to.

SAT 11 AUG, 1.00 pm - 3.00 pm

MASTERCLASS: Fundamentals of Teaching Screenwriting to Students



Enhance your knowledge of screenwriting to inspire your students to write powerful stories for the screen. In this workshop we will cover the fundamental aspects of screenwriting craft, and explore the ways in which they can be successfully taught. Content includes: story structure; character development; crafting genre; writing visually; and writing dialogue. We will also explore strategies for helping students to work collaboratively, including giving effective and detailed feedback.

SAT 11 AUG, 9.00 am - 12.30 pm

Bookings via REACH FNQ

WORKSHOP: Screenwriting Fundamentals


In this workshop, delegates will be introduced to some of the core aspects of screenwriting so that they leave with a good understanding of how screenplays work. A series of key craft areas will be discussed and illustrated with clips and example scripts, and delegates will have the chance to test out ideas through creative exercises. Aimed at beginners or those with a basic understanding of screenwriting, the workshop will focus on feature film stories - though the ideas presented can be adapted to short film, television and web series.

SAT 11 AUG, 3.30 pm - 5.30 pm


Julian Burnside AO QC with Richard Fidler and Anna Broinowski
Chair: Michael Cathcart

SAT 11 AUG, 11.45 am - 12.30 pm


WORKSHOP: Non-Fiction Q&A

Matthew Kelly is the non-fiction publisher for Hachette, a prominent and esteemed mainstream publisher in Australia. He focuses on good stories, well told, from colonial or contemporary Australia, ranging from military history to popular biography.

In this informal workshop, Matthew will call on his long experience in non-fiction publishing to answer questions and problem-solve queries as they arise about non-fiction writing and publishing.

Participants who enrol in this workshop are asked to send their questions in advance, so that Matthew can prepare customised answers that will be shared with the group. Matthew will facilitate conversation towards increasing knowledge and understanding of non-fiction as a genre of writing and publishing.

SAT 11 AUG, 11.00 am - 12.30 pm

Conversations Richard Fidler - Literary Dinner

TICKETS CLOSED - Enquiries: 0476 378 975

The Cairns Tropical Writers Festival is pleased to host Richard Fidler as our Literary Dinner guest. Richard is a writer and broadcaster who presents Conversations with Richard Fidler, an in-depth, up-close-and-personal interview program broadcast across Australia on ABC Radio throughout the week.

SAT 11 AUG, 6.30 pm - 9.00 pm


MASTERCLASS Making Documentaries that Matter

A crash-course in how to take your killer documentary idea from page to screen, combining research, shooting, interviewing and editing techniques to get revealing, honest and even hair-raising stories.

This masterclass includes a discussion about Anna’s work as a filmmaker, exploring how she chooses her non-fiction subjects,
and the challenges, rewards and dangers
associated with the documentary-maker’s life.

SUN 12 AUG, 9.00 am - 12.30 pm

WORKSHOP: Poetic Starters

Beginning and Endings: The Poetic Line

Workshop with Sarah Holland-Batt on the craft of poetry for new poets, on beginnings and endings, and the poetic line. The basic unit sense and breath. Learn techniques of emphasis and rhythm to maximise your poem's possibility for meaning.

SUN 12 AUG, 11.00 am - 9.00 am - 10.30 am

One-to-One: Manuscript Assessment


Award-winning, internationally published author, Aleesah, has published over forty books, works as a writing mentor and tutor, and runs her own speakers agency for authors and illustrators. She has extensive experience in and knowledge of the Australian publishing industry.

Submit your manuscript to Aleesah to receive crucial feedback on plot, structure, character and setting. This feedback will help you lift your story to the next level and prepare it for submission to publishers.
Genres: adult, memoir, non-fiction, young adult, children’s and picture books.

- Manuscripts to be submitted by 5pm Thursday 9 August for pre-reading by Aleesah.
- A short, written report will be included as part of your assessment.

SUN 12 AUG, Meetings will be set between 11.00 am - 1.00 pm

WORKSHOP: SlammED! Writing and Performance

(Open to all ages)


Join poet and teacher Simon Kindt for a writing and performance workshop that will culminate in an opportunity for you to share your work on the mic in a poetry slam. Suitable for all skill levels, this workshop will introduce you to poetry slams, and will offer sure-fire techniques to help lift your writing.

SlammED! is Queensland’s largest youth poetry project and is presented in partnership between the Queensland Poetry Festival and the State Library of Queensland.

• 15-20 minutes of poetry (Simon’s presented live and a selection of work from Youtube channels accessible online for attendees to investigate further in their own time)
• 40 – 60 minutes of structured and guided writing prompts focusing on metaphor as the central concept
• 20 minutes to consider how they can adapt a piece that they’ve written for performance (an intro to performance)
• 20 minutes to share work and receive feedback in front of their audience.

Workshop is followed by a 45 minute SLAM Performance from 4.15 pm

SUN 12 AUG, 1.30 pm - 4.00 pm

Bookings via REACH FNQ

WORKSHOP: Marketing and Social Media

If you’re looking for new ways to promote your book or your author brand, you simply must attend this informative and comprehensive workshop.
How do you get your book into bookstores? How do you create market awareness? And how do you get people buying your book? The publishing industry is highly competitive and is constantly evolving. If you want to stand out, if you want people to buy your books, they first have to know who you are.

Join Aleesah Darlison, internationally published author and ex-corporate marketer, to find out how to market your book both in the real world and online.

SUN 12 AUG, 9.00 am - 10.30 am

Biggest Book Club

The BIGGEST BOOK CLUB is a regular and popular event at every tropical writers festival. It brings together a panel of literary-minded people, in front of an audience, to have an animated discussion about the three chosen books.

SUN 12 AUG, 11.00 am - 12.30 pm

MASTERCLASS: Advanced Screenwriting

In this session, which is aimed at those with existing knowledge of screenwriting and/or a project in development, delegates will have the chance to deepen their craft skills and improve their ability to pitch a project. A series of advanced areas of technique - those that can be problematic for screenwriters, or that often trip people up - will be presented, and delegates will have the chance to explore them in detail through discussion and examples. Where possible, delegates will be encouraged to apply these ideas to projects in development, and share their findings with others in the group. The workshop will end with a focus on pitching, including the opportunity for delegates to test out their pitching skills to the group.

SUN 12 AUG, 1.30 pm - 5.00 pm

KEEPING IT REAL: Writing Non-Fiction

Chair: MATTHEW KELLY (Hachette)

SUN 12 AUG, 9.00 am - 9.45 am


MASTERCLASS: Writing for children

Take your writing to the next level. Expand your industry knowledge and gain valuable insight into opportunities that will open new doors in your writing career.

Bring along a manuscript or two so you can workshop it and gain critical feedback from masterclass presenter, Aleesah Darlison. Dissect your characters, setting, plot and problem to see what’s working and what’s not. Are you hitting the mark for word count, genre and themes? Do you need a line edit or a more involved structural edit? Aleesah can help you determine what the next steps are in your writing process and how to take your story to the next level.

Additional topics include writing effective story synopses set out to industry standard, how to create publisher pitches and what to include in cover letters to publishers. Aleesah will discuss the current state of the market and advise attendees on who to pitch their manuscripts to and the various methods for doing so.

Suitable for established and emerging authors who’ve had some exposure to the industry, are already published or about to be published and who want to progress their industry knowledge and writing skills further.

RECOMMENDATION: One-to-One: Manuscript Assessment sessions (on Friday & Sunday)

SUN 12 AUG, 1.30 pm - 5.00 pm

NEW SHOOTS: a garden of poems

All are invited on a poetic tour of the Cairns Botanic Gardens to enjoy poetry readings by local and visiting poets, inspired by
our tropical biodiversity.

Part of the Cairns Tropical Writers Festival, the tour will be led by Friends of the Cairns Botanic Gardens.
Supported by Australian Poetry, Red Room Poetry and Cairns Regional Council.

FREE: includes afternoon tea
VENUE: Cairns Botanic Gardens

SUN 12 AUG, 1.30 pm - 3.30 pm