Ross Clark



Ross Clark is a Director of PacificPlus Consulting, a business providing leadership and governance consultancy to the Asia-Pacific region. He has a Bachelor of Education and a Diploma in Psychology.

Ross has taught, developed educational guidance services and led schools and educational institutions from early childhood to Technical and Further Education colleges. He developed a paraprofessional Indigenous counselling workforce that currently operates throughout Queensland and was instrumental in the establishment of a remote area teacher education program that has enabled over 200 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island teachers to study and graduate where they live. Prior to retiring from Education Queensland, Ross was the Regional Director for Education for Far North Queensland.

As a Director of PacificPlus Consulting, Ross has more recently provided leadership development and support to medical staff in Queensland Health, and educational leadership services to schools across Australia and PNG. Ross is currently a board member of the Australian International School in PNG.

Gordon Herbertson



Gordon Herbertson has spent his adult life as a professional educator working in many roles including teacher, Principal, consultant and corporate trainer. In a career spanning 41 years, he has worked both in Australia and overseas before his retirement in early 2017.

In 1976, Gordon took his first trip to an Indigenous community and since that time, has lived in, worked in, and travelled to, almost every Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander community in Queensland. Margaret, his wife of 39 years, is a Torres Strait Islander and together they enjoy a large extended Indigenous family.

He has a strong connection to and interest in history and in particular, maritime history. He served for nearly twenty years as an officer in the Royal Australian Naval Reserve and was the foundation president of the Maritime Archaeological Association of Far North Queensland. He is also a member of the UK’s Nautical Archaeological Society.

He started writing seriously about 25 years ago, but after a stint focussing on short stories and articles, put his writing aspirations aside to concentrate on his family and career. He returned to serious writing in 2017 and recently completed the first novel of a planned trilogy.

James Gaustad



In his role as auditor at BDO Cairns, James has worked with charities, not-for-profits and Indigenous organisations for the last 15 years. About 75% of his clients are not-for-profit or Indigenous organisations, and he’s in charge of all of his firm’s licenced club audits. Whilst they may be not-for-profits, his clients still have the same accounting challenges as other businesses, and a big part of his role is helping overcome those challenges.

James is also a big supporter of local charities, which is why people often hear about him being involved in fundraising events and campaigns for worthy causes. James currently serves on the Cairns Salvation Army Red Shield Appeal Committee and on BDO’s ‘Be Generous’ committee, an internal committee which arranges fund-raising and supports charity organisations and events throughout the year.

James is a Registered Company Auditor and a Certified Practicing Accountant (CPA). He holds a Bachelor of Business from Waikato Institute of Technology.

Judith Ketchell

Committee Member


Judith Ketchell is a proud descendant from the saltwater people of the Kemer Kemer Meriam Nation, Torres Strait where language and culture remain strong today.

Judith graduated as a teacher in 1982. Her teaching career has spanned over 38 years in many remote, rural and urban school communities. Over many generations, the strong women in Judith’s family have always been the first teachers and storytellers who helped to shape her purpose in life and these same teachings and stories has been passed down with her children.

Judith is recently retired from her role as Executive Principal at Tagai State College, and has been focussed on establishing her own consultancy business influencing Indigenous leadership and Indigenous women’s business in the community.

Judith remains an active member of Australian Institute of Teaching & School Leadership (AITSL) Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander advisory group with specific work about how best to build cultural capabilities of leaders and teachers in all Australian schools.

Judith has co-authored the following publications:

Footprints: To Country Kin and Cultures in 1997

Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Education – An Introduction to the Teaching Profession 2nd edition, Jan 2015

Improving Schools using Systems Leadership – Turning intention into reality, Jan 2020

Judith’s work today is centred near places where the rainforest meets the sea – spiritual places that brings peace and balance – the ideal place to start writing her own stories.

Kerstin Brown

Committee Member


Kerstin and her family have called Cairns home since mid 1970s. In the last 30+ years, Kerstin has been involved in the book industry in a couple of different positions. In late 1980s they owned a little independent bookshop in Smithfield shopping complex, which in mid 1990s became their Collins Booksellers entity. Later, Kerstin joined the board of the franchise group as well as the committee for the Australian Booksellers Association.


Over the years, Kerstin has had involvement in events with James Cook University as well as the Cairns Tropical Writers Festival, and has met a number of authors in conjunction with the local library and schools.

Diane Finlay

Committee Member


Diane left the chilly winds of north east England in 1995 to make Cairns her home. The warm tropical breezes stimulated her imagination and writing buds. She is author, illustrator and publisher of The Duck with no Quack. The School Magazine has published a number of children’s short stories and poems and recently requested permission to re-run a story due to the feedback it generated.

Adult short stories and poems feature in several Tropical Writers anthologies and in Short and Twisted anthologies. Short ’n’ Black, which Diane self-published, is an e-book series.

Diane is very proud to have been part of the pioneering team which brought the 2008 inaugural festival to the readers and writers of this region. She worked as Events Coordinator for three festivals and was involved in the groundwork for the 2012 festival.

Diane also served as Regional Writers representative and chair of local RADF committee, and offered a writers’ perspective on the new five year plan for the Cairns region. She is currently working on children’s novels and belongs to the Cairns Chapter of The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI).

She is very happy to be part of Cairns Tropical Writers Festival Inc. committee and is looking forward to CTWF 2021.