The Reef, The Trees, The Stars


This year’s Byron Writers Festival hosts a range of conversations for those interested in delving into the environment, astronomy and science, led by some of the world’s leading scientific minds. From discoveries made below the waterline, to those made looking at the stars, you will be enthralled by this year’s line-up of non-fiction writers.

Kick-start your Festival weekend on Friday 4 August with a wonderful Feature Event double-bill at Byron Theatre when the master of conversation Richard Fidler will interview biologist and tree-whisperer David George Haskell (6.30pm).

From trees to seas, that conversation will be followed by Charlie Veron, known as the ‘Godfather of Coral’ introducing a special free screening of the lauded documentary Chasing Coral in which he stars (8pm). Chasing Coral has received standing ovations at international film festivals and we are honoured to be able to screen it at Byron Writers Festival.

Also on Friday but on the other side of town, get your geek on for an evening of cerebral celebration when Tim Flannery, Dava Sobel and Adam Spencer present ‘Night of the Nerds’ with MC comedian Mandy Nolan.

Saturday 5 August is the big day for the science-geeks and greenies among us. First up Charlie Veron speaks about a life spent underwater, while David George Haskell, Magdalena Roze and Emrys Westacott discuss the wisdoms of frugal living in ‘The Simple Life: Why Less is More, More or Less’.

Kim Mahood, Bruce Pascoe and Nicolas Rothwell examine the role of landscape in their work, and Lawrie Zion discusses his new book, Our Weather Obsession, which lifts the lid on our insatiable appetite for meteorological media. Then, acclaimed scientist Tim Flannery tells us just how sunlight and seaweed might feed, power and clean up our world.

On Saturday afternoon award-winning science writer Dava Sobel, Emrys Westacott and beloved ABC broadcaster Robyn Williams talk ‘Science, Philosophy and Ideas’. Indigenous Australian writer, Bruce Pascoe, whose book Dark Emu challenges the claim that pre-colonial Aboriginal society was essentially a hunter-gatherer society, joins author and long-time farmer Charles Massy, to discuss regenerative agriculture in ‘Farming that Doesn’t Cost the Earth’.

On Sunday 6 August, Dava Sobel, whose recent book, The Glass Universe, looks to the stars to reveal the hidden history of female astronomers, will join Melissa Ashley and Ashley Hay for ‘Women in Science’. David George Haskell, Tim Flannery and Nicolas Rothwell will continue to marvel at the many nuances of nature, in ‘Stories from Nature’s Great Connectors’, and finally, David Gillespie and Kate Grenville explore the realities of a synthetic world, while asking what are we really consuming, and what are the repercussions?

These writers cover vast terrains. They seek to understand our world by looking below the waterline, to the land, and into the night sky. Through their works, they share insights and revelations for those of us wishing to listen, learn and better comprehend the universe and our place within it.

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