Stories up High boys reading

Stories up High

Stories up High boys reading

Post by Adriana Alvarez.

Stories Up High Children’s Writers Festival, being held during May in iconic venues throughout the Dandenong and Yarra Ranges. It is a festival of ideas, imagination, and laughter. It includes a range of author talks, exhibitions, puppet shows, movies, storytelling, competitions, cooking, writing, gardening, reading, and train rides.

This Festival has something for everyone. Whether you are a child, or a parent grandparent, aunt, uncle, or friend, there is an event for you! We spoke to organiser Melissa Chip about Autumn Authors and what the festival has to offer.

Can you tell me a bit about Autumn Authors?

Autumn Authors is the name of the festival we ran 2 years ago in the Dandenong Ranges. This year we have morphed into Stories Up High which has more of a focus on children and has been extended out to the Yarra Valley. We have had a bit of a coup, actually. Partnering with the Wheelers Centre we have booked David Walliams from Little Britain and now an incredibly popular children’s author. He is arguably one of the biggest names to ever come to the Dandenongs! He will be at Skyhigh on Tuesday 12 May. We also have Australia’s favourite kids author, Andy Griffiths headlining a day of literary fun on Sunday 17 May. We have events for preschools including story time on Puffing Billy, Digging and reading at Cloudehill with Diggers Seeds and Dreamtime stories at Healesville.

We also have a pretty fabulous program coming out this week for secondary school kids. A writing workshop with award winning short story author Cate Kennedy who is a regular on the ABC’s Book Show; a play on the VCE curriculum – Kelly; a performance poetry competition – or a slam off with Emily Zoey Baker; and a presentation/interview event with Rebecca Starford, author of new controversial book Bad Behaviour about bullying in an elite Melbourne boarding school – the last 2 events happening at Burrinja.

David Walliams and Andy Griffiths

Is this festival aimed more at children who love to write (future authors) or at kids who love books?

It is aimed at both really. We have events that will inspire kids to write, like the creative writing and garden cooking at Shannon Bennett’s the Piggery where children under 12 will choose food from the garden, cook with Piggery chefs and then write about their experiences to win a prize judged by Shannon Bennett. Also at our big showcase day with Andy a Griffiths at Skyhigh, children will be invited to find words which will be hung and hidden amongst the trees and use those to write a poem. We also have events for kids who love to read with some of their favourite authors – David Walliams and Andy Griffiths – you can’t get better than that! But I reckon most kids who love to write also love to read – and probably mostly visa versa as well.

Stories up high Book

Why is it so important for children to be introduced to books early on?

How long have I got! I guess I believe it is important to plant the seed for a love of reading at an early age, especially in an age where life is technology rich and we process much of our interaction at a surface level, books are able to immerse you in a world of imagination and thought. At the last festival Andy Griffiths preformed for an hour to over 300 children and then signed books and engaged with every child afterwards. These children were in absolute awe of him and laughed and called out and asked questions and told him about their stories and what they loved about his books. To see these kids so engaged and in admiration of him – an author, not a footballer or Australian Idol star, warmed the heart. They were all inspired to read more to write more, to use their imagination and share ideas, to laugh, think and create and to engage more in literacy. That’s got to be a good thing – doesn’t it?

What do you hope kids (young and old) will get out of this event?

I hope they have fun first. I hope they get inspired to read and write more and gain a deeper understanding about the writing and reading experience. I hope they get out and experience the beautiful Dandenongs and Yarra Valley during autumn when it is at its very best, whether they live here or they are visiting from Collingwood. And most of all, I hope they tell all their friends what a great time they’ve had and the come back next year!

The festival is being held from 8 May until 23 May. For bookings and more information see the website at or for regular updates go to Facebook.

Other events include

8 – 23 May   First ever exhibition of Andy Griffiths “Secret Stuff”. Ever wondered what motivated Andy to write his totally disgusting but utterly entertaining wonderful books – well here’s your chance to find out. The Memo Healesville 11.00am – 4.00pm (closed Mondays) Free

10 May           Aboriginal Storytime at Healesville Sanctuary.  Meet Wurundjeri Elder Murrundindi and Aunty Dot Peters at the Dreaming Place, Wurundjeri Walk, as they share stories of cultural significance. Healesville Sanctuary 12.45pm to 1.45pm

12 May           David Walliams and Eddie Perfect. David Walliams, the new Roald Dahl, hosted by Eddie Perfect, will discuss his stories and read from one of his best selling books. David will be available afterwards for book signing. Skyhigh, Mt Dandenong 5.00pm – 6.00pm

14 – 15 May Creative Writing and Garden Cooking. Children’s passion for writing and cooking will be simultaneously stimulated with this delightful event at Shannon Bennett’s Piggery on the stunning Burnham Beeches estate in Sherbrooke. The Piggery, Sherbrooke 4.00pm to 6.00pm

16 May        Storytime on Puffing Billy.  Stories with pirates and fairies and trains – what could be better! Perfect for preschoolers. Puffing Billy, Belgrave 11.10am

17 May        Andy Griffiths headlines Stories Up High. Share a hilarious morning with superstar author Andy Griffiths, and after book signings, be entertained by Punch and Judy, enjoy stories from fairies and pirates and participate in fun literacy games. Skyhigh, Mt Dandneong 10.30am – 4.00pm

23 May        Opera Australia presents Hansel and Gretel. Introduce your children to the magic of opera through Opera Australia’s delightful production of one of the best loved Brothers Grimm tales, returning to Victoria in 2015 by popular demand. The Memo, Healesville  5.00pm

23 May        Reading and Digging with Mr Peabody. Hands on experience gardening with Diggers Seeds and author talks for the little ones in the beautiful gardens of Cloudehill. Cloudehill, Olinda

Also don’t miss the Secondary program, including;

21 May        Kelly. A play on the VCE curriculum for over 15 year olds. The Memo, Healesville 7.30pm 

23 May        Cate Kennedy writing workshop – Finding Your Voice. Gain practical help with writing for VCE in one of  two  writing worksop with acclaimed author, Cate Kennedy. Pirianda Gardens, Olinda 9.30am and 1.30pm

Check the website for more details.

Stories up high beautiful

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Hive of festivities

Hive sign Hive tealights

Post by Adriana Alvarez

PAVE Festival is well under way and is packed to the brim with loads of great art, music, theatre, events and activities for both young and old. This year it’s program is celebrating 10 years of cultural delights by adding “an environmental message in conjunction with the sustainability theme of longevity and survival of the Performing and Visual Arts here in the hills and beyond.” Our own hillsceneLIVE organiser, Gareth Hart, has added a new element this year with a pop-up bar. We talk to him about this latest addition to this rich, cultural festival.

Tell us about this exciting new space that will be popping up for the PAVE festival.

Inside the crumbling brick walls, exposed beam ceiling and antique fireplace of the heritage listed old bakery in Emerald, we have set up a pop-up wine bar. A space for people to gather, to celebrate culture and community, and to enjoy some locally crafted wines and beer. And to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the PAVE festival (the HIVE doubles as the PAVE festival hub!)

How did you get access to this heritage listed space?

Mary Farrow and the Emerald Community House have been liasing, talking, scheming and generally advocating for this space for the past three years. It is owned by the Commonwealth Bank, and after dealing with three different branch managers, multiple people through head office in Sydney, and what seems like a huge paper trail, it has been offered to the Emerald Community House as a community activated space for the near future!

Hive light2hive-collage1

hive counter

How will this space enhance PAVE’s goal of building community resilience?

The HIVE is an example of individuals, community organisations and the commercial sector working hand in hand.  Which ultimately makes us all feel more connected and supported in our community.  It creates a space where we can gather, befriend each other, strengthen our pride of place and share in the celebration of our rich history. Emerald Community House fought for the space, Commonwelath Bank came to the party, Emersleigh Estate Wines have generously sponsored the HIVE. Rob Gearon purpose built upcycled furniture, the PAVE festival chairperson’s brother built and installed new windows, and our passionate visitors get to enjoy it. It really is a coming together of a multi-legged web of community strands.

What are your plans for this pop up bar over the time it will be open?

We hope to entice people to think about space and design a little differently.  All of the fit out of the space is recycled, upcycled, found, discarded and repurposed materials.  It is an example of being truly resourceful, through an artistic lens, without contributing to landfill and mass production! It is also a venture into thinking about how our history (given the space is heritage listed) can be harnessed and celebrated in creative ways.


Hive cheese platter

hive stove

Any plans for a longer term bar once this space is finished or are you happy with the ephemeral nature of this project?

Shhhh! After the first few nights, I am actually exhausted from continually answering the plea: “will this be a permanent thing?”. We hope so, in some form. Multiple pop ups throughout the year, seasonal wines, alternative venues….sure, something longer term will definitely ‘pop-up’ (even if only for the PAVE festival next year!)

Describe any sustainable or environmental aims/features of your pop-up bar.

We are using solar lights where possible, everything is upcycled, we are collecting peanut shells from customers to continually make new art/installation, the majority of the installed design came from the garden itself, and all our wine and beer is sourced locally (low alcohol miles!). We love, cherish and are committed to sustainable endeavours. It just makes sense (and feels good!)

Anything else you’d like to add?

Come and see for yourself!

Bakery emblem

hive inside3


HIVE can be found at the rear of the Commonwealth Bank – 1 Kilvington Drive, Emerald. Open every day from 5pm until Sunday 19th April. Find out more about what’s on at PAVE.

Photos by Neil Creek –

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