Gawurra at Survival Day

Belgrave Survival Day is thrilled to announce acclaimed Gawurra Gaykamangu as the headline performer at this year’s Belgrave Survival Day Friday 26 January!

Gawurra is a Yolngu professional performing artist hailing from Milingimbi (Yurrwi), North East Arnhem Land. With an emotional and resonant voice, Gawurra’s performances deliver a masterful musical sensitivity.


Yolngu people feel the spirit of Gawurra’s music in their hearts. The emotion in his voice touches people to build and refresh their spirit, making them stronger through the vine of love. Gawurra is a genuine young leader in his community, a respected song man with knowledge and power. It is important for Gawurra to connect his culture through his music to all peoples, sharing the love from small communities of the Northern Territory to the major mainstream international music markets of the world.

In 2016, Gawurra won the NT Song of the Year in the Pop category, for ‘Mulunda’. He received four NIMA Awards and gained national recognition throughout the music industry and mainstream media, including an ARIA nomination and a 4.5-star review in Rolling Stone magazine who stated “Gawurra commands attention regardless of backdrop.”

Gawurra’s star has continued to rise in 2017, mounting his first national tour of Australia with SOLD OUT appearances in mainstream music venues throughout the country and as a featured performer at major music festivals. Gawurra has established himself as a “must see” live act, gathering a mainstream following and captivating his audiences across the country. “Gawurra celebrates the natural wonders of his homeland in Gupapuyngu language across his debut album.” – The West Australian

2017 was a big year for Gawurra as he started his own professional music and artist services business. Gawurra Catfish Corporation was formed and operates out of Melbourne to deliver artist representation, music production, music licensing and recording label services.

With Gawurra Gaykamangu headlining the day festival goers will be also enjoy performances by The Deans of Soul, Eskatology, Mullum Mullum Choir, Gnarnaryarrahe – Didge Meditation, Djirri Djirri Dance Group, Mullum Mullum Hip Hop Dance Group as well as contributions from Aunty Dot Peters and SEED Indigenous Youth Climate Network.

Belgrave Survival Day will be held this Friday 26 January in Borthwick Park, Benson Street, Belgrave from 12.00 – 4.30pm. Join in for another day of music, stalls, children’s activities, food and fun and to celebrate the survival of Australia’s First Nations people. Find out more on the Belgrave Survival Day Facebook page.

Burrinja logo


Chill Fest begins

Tell me a bit about this festival?

Chill Fest is a wellness & yoga festival designed to leave festival-goers feeling better than when they came in. With great local yoga and meditation facilitators, you can enjoy a taster of what the Hills has to offer. Yoga rave, market stalls, meditation, kids dance workshops, good food and a selection of classes, Chill Fest is your one-stop shop to try something new and feeling incredible.

Is this the first chill fest?

Yes, Flan (Mike Flannery) & I (Krystal Bassett) work in events for different companies but we decided to use our experience and skills to organise our own festival.

Tell me a bit about your background and why you decided to create this festival.

I spent many years in Manchester, UK putting on late night events and performing in various bands and Flan (also a from the UK) works for a production company here in Victoria, touring with various artists around the country.

Now settled in Olinda, we are moving away from the party lifestyle and enjoying the luxury of many more early nights! (Flan may argue this! He still enjoys a few beers!)

After feeling the benefits of my journey into meditation and yoga, I felt inspired to put on a festival where people can know that their mind, body and soul will be energised and nourished. Rather than feeling terrible the next day.


What drove you to host this festival in the hills?

After meeting so many passionate Hills folk at various events or in cafes, I wanted to bring everyone together and to meet more like-minded locals. We would love to really be a part of the Hills community and encourage others to spend more time with each other – in this day and age there are too many people cooped up in their homes – we would love anyone, any age, to come along and make friends.

What is unique about this event?

We are completely self funded, this allows Chill Fest to be free of advertising and to stick to our ethics. You wont find a disposable coffee cup at our barista cart Pookie May (there are mugs) and you had better BYO water bottle too. Plus, there is amazing veggie food from Babji’s Kitchen and Jerry’s Vegiburgers.

We hope that Chill Fest has a feel of acceptance and is an approachable way to try less commercial practices like sound healing and Raja yoga. Everyone is welcome and can ask for support with any practices that they are unsure about.

Why do you think these sorts of ideas are becoming more important to people now (and in the future)?

I really feel that we are all becoming more conscious and if people take steps to be mindful & respect themselves (body, mind and soul), then they are more able to be compassionate to others, bringing us together in these turbulent times and making the world a better place to live.

In what ways, if any, do you engage with the hills community?

We have been in Olinda for 3 years and although we have spent time with our community on art and musical events, this is really our first time engaging as a couple. We would love to help the community in many other ways throughout the years.


Where can people find more information and buy tickets?

Chill Fest is this Saturday 28th October 11am-10pm.
For more info and to buy tickets go to
or you can turn up with your yoga mat and pay on the door.
$35 standard, $20 concessions (with ID), under 12yrs Free.


Burrinja logo

Belgrave Survival Day – Celebrating 10 years

smoking-ceremonySmoking ceremony photo by D.Clarke.

On Thursday the 26th January, 2017, Belgrave Survival Day will celebrate its 10th consecutive year. Once again celebrating Indigenous culture and the survival of Australia’s First Nations people through 228 years of white settlement. This year’s festival will focus on the theme of ‘Knowing your local history, and as always is a free family friendly event.

This year the theme focuses on understanding your local history. If there is one action a person can do to show solidarity and start to bridge the gap between indigenous and non-indigenous people it is to get to know your local history. This year award winning author Bruce Pascoe will be a special guest speaker sharing stories from our local history. Author and historian Jim Poulter will also have a stall with books outlining Victoria’s indigenous history.

The Welcome to Country and smoking ceremony will be led by Wurundjeri elder and educator, Uncle Bill Nicholson, followed by traditional dances performed by ‘The Djirri Djirri’ dance mob where the audience will be invited to join in. Aunty Dot Peters will also grace us with her presence and share some of her wisdom.

Djirri Djirri Dance Group courtesy of their facebook pageThe Djirri Djirri dance mob.

The line up includes Benny Walker, who will be on the stage again as the lead act with his band. His love songs and epic tales are mixed with passion for the land, the people. His summer vibes and deep grooves are elements that reach the soul.

Benny Walker and BandBenny and the band.

The day will also welcome back The Deans, who will bring classic sounds and grooves with velvet smooth vocals, sweet harmonies, soaring heartbreak guitar, deep Mo-town bass grooves and hip-shaking rhythms. They are sure to get you moving.

Benny and The Deans will be supported by Gunditjmara singer songwriter Jayden Lillyst. Jayden tells stories of his people through a dose of country rock mixed with soul and blues.

The fabulous voices of the Mullum Mullum Choir and the vibes of the Hip Hop Crew will also feature. Then be calmed as you participate in a Digeridoo Mediation with Gnarnayarrahe Waitiarie (Uncle Joey).

There will be plenty of activities to keep the kids (and adults) busy with fun music and dance, art and craft opportunities, the children’s playground and more.

Soak up the atmosphere on a picnic rug in front of the stage or stroll around the market and information stalls. Catering for all food requirements with a variety of food trucks including traditional bush tucker. This event is alcohol-free.

Due to parking limitations around the park the Survival Day organisers strongly encourage people to catch public transport, carpool or park at Belgrave Train Station where you can get the shuttle bus provided, or take a quick 5 minute walk to Borthwick Park.

The event will be simulcasts on 3MDR 97.1 FM.

To find out more go to Belgrave Survival Day facebook or events page

When: 26th January 2017
Time: 12 noon – 4.30pm
Where: Borthwick Park (next to Belgrave Pool) Benson St, Belgrave.
Melways reference 75/F11


The Belgrave Survival Day event is organised by a committee of volunteers. They invite new volunteers to help with preparations for the festival, to assist on the day, or join the committee to keep the event happening in the future.

Burrinja logo

Class Comedy


Hills dwellers need not travel to the inner city for hilarious first class comedy – Melbourne Fringe on tour returns to Burrinja with Bucket’s List, a satirical comedy about love and buckets by multi award winning Belgrave writer Sarah Collins, starring Justin Kennedy and a possum plus live music on stage.

“The show itself is a gem of a thing – inspired by a real life bucket salesman I met at a wedding,” says Sarah. “The show has been so positively reviewed, and I swear he is why. He is one of the kindest, nicest guys I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. He was just totally inspirational. He was actually a bucket salesman by day and wedding DJ by night, and these two disparate worlds just HAD to be explored in a show, I felt. The trick was figuring out how to bring them together into a cohesive show that had a storyline and made sense and felt complete, not just novel. The jumping off point for me was these two jobs he did. Beyond that it was about imagining a world where something interesting happens because of those jobs. I had to explore the world of buckets and love and figure out a path for them to come together. So that’s essentially what the show is – a collision of these two worlds.”

Sarah and Justin share an underground house in Melbourne’s Dandenong Ranges – which has been featured on the Design Files blog.

With a hilarious support set by another seasoned local comedian Michael Connell this is sure to be a night to remember. Michael, who’s performed on Australia’s Got Talent, Rove, and other TV shows, mixes big ideas with big laughs before throwing in a few surprises.

Are you a budding writer or comedian or both?  Here’s your chance to learn from this talented duo by taking part in a Comedy & Script Development Workshop with Justin Kennedy & Sarah Collins the weekend before the show. Bucket’s List is a storytelling show, told through the mediums of narration, physical comedy, live music and puppetry – and this workshop brings all of these experiences together.

“We’ve been getting asked to do more and more of these comedy/writing workshops in recent times, which is great, because we really love talking about ourselves and feeling like we still know things after being on a big parenting kick the last two years!” Sarah explains. “A session just like this was what got me into writing my own things back in 2004 and I would go so far as to say it was life-changing. Certainly career changing at the very least.”

“The biggest thing we want participants to know is that the workshop is not at all scary. You don’t have to be a genius to get something from what we’re teaching. It actually takes the process back to the very basics and gives everyone these ridiculously simple tools to create their own work.”


Clockwise from top: Sarah Collins, Justin Kennedy and Michael Connell.


Comedy Class – with Justin Kennedy
Justin is a stand up, actor, and head writer for Channel 10’s The Project. He has written for Letters and Numbers and Rove and has been a regular on the Comedy Channel for years.

From Idea to Script to Show – with Sarah Collins
Sarah is a Belgrave based writer and performer known for her comedic storytelling shows.
She has won numerous awards for her script writing and her shows have enjoyed sell out seasons at La Mama, Melbourne and Adelaide Fringe Festivals, the Arts Centre Melbourne – Melbourne International Comedy Festival, Brisbane Powerhouse and even Toowoomba! Her show Bucket’s List has received straight 5 star reviews and won the Tiki Tour Award.

“We’re so happy to be playing at Burrinja, our home arts centre! We’ve had such amazing support from the hills and can’t wait to play for all our friends here.”

Bucket’s List, with support act by Michael Connell plus Comedy & Script Development workshop at Burrinja – Cnr Glenfern Road and Matson Dr, Upwey.
Workshop: Sunday 2 Oct, 2 – 4:30pm
Performance: Friday 7 Oct, doors open 7:30pm
Cost:  Performance $18 – $28 | Workshop $25 | Workshop &performance $44
Fantastic student price for the show and workshop just $35
Contact: 9754 8723

Burrinja logo


Belgrave Lantern Parade photo by John Weeks

Lantern Parade turns 10

Post by Justine Walsh.

Belgrave Lantern Parade has become a very well known and celebrated event on the local calendar, with up to 10,000 people from the Dandenongs and beyond attending. This year the parade, held on Saturday the 18th of June, will be celebrating the festival’s 10th year!

It is shaping up to be more spectacular than ever. There will be dancing, singing, drumming, musical & even circus performances! With a beautiful post-parade Village space for community to gather for delicious food, hot drinks and entertainment – complete with fire pits & lantern tipis – there will be plenty for everyone to see, hear & engage with!

Belgrave Lantern Parade photo by John Weeks

2016’s parade is a very exciting one – the Lantern Parade team have been busy ensuring that the program is jam-packed and has something for everyone.
Before the parade – from 4pm onward – the main street will be alive with activity. With the road closing at 5pm and parade beginning at 5:45pm, the cold winter night won’t deter thousands of people from congregating and watching the playful & spectacular beauty of the parade, or walking along with their beautiful lanterns!

At 6pm, The Village (in Hayes Carpark) will open, and will run until 9pm for people to continue to enjoy themselves & celebrate. There will be delicious local food, hot chocolate, face painting, fire pits to warm your hands, singalongs with local musicians to join in, performances by local poets & storytellers, beautiful glowing decorations and giant lit-up lantern tipis decorated by local school children and artists! With spaces for young & old to play, sit back and relax, sing, listen and get cosy inside a lantern tipi, there will be ample opportunity to bask in the gentle afterglow of the parade and experience the sensory delights of celebrating our community in the depths of winter.


Lantern making workshops have been running for the past couple of months and many beautiful handmade works have been crafted specially for the event. Ranging from gorgeous decorated pyramids to stunning detailed creatures, the parade will be quite a sight to behold! The Belgrave Lantern Artists have of course been working on many wonderful large structures to make this year’s parade move & feel even better than ever!

workshop image 1

There is only one more workshop left, on the morning of the festival itself, for those of you who would like to learn how to make your own lantern to bring – at the Belgrave Library (please call the Library on 9800 6489 to book in, limited places available). Check out the website & facebook page for further details!

workshop image 2

We are always looking for more volunteers to help out on the day – contact us at for info and to get on board!

Keep an eye out for parade program flyers about in local stores & online to make sure you catch the performances you want to see on the night.



Burrinja logo

Contact Justine at

navigating the personal


On October 30, the fourth hillsceneLIVE event was held in a deserted shopfront in Monbulk. It was a night of contrasts, of intimate works that needed to be viewed closely and intense bold pieces that confronted their audience. “hillsceneLIVE: navigating personal territories” looked like it had been planned perfectly to suit the space in which it was shown but as with all great performance what was on the surface is only a small part of the picture.

Everything seemed smooth and seamless on the night but these words by the festival’s artistic director, on a zine published by the creative team and available on the night for free, offer audiences further stirring insight into this extraordinary festival and the dedication it takes to lead it.

I haven’t slept properly for weeks.
I have had more anxiety this year than any other.
We lost our venue for hillsceneLIVE last Friday.
There have been moments when I was lost beyond words.
Alongside moments of clarity when I just knew “this is what it is all about”.

 I was worried no one would engage with the project at all.
This project has worn so many hats in 2015.
I thought about ‘getting a job’ a scary amount.
In a volatile cultural climate, including the biggest jolt to arts funding in my lifetime, what is my role in this industry?

What is my self induced obligation to those I see as creatively and culturally vital to our future?

 My role is to write this thing.  The program, this festival.  To nurture others and the ideas that surge forth in them.  To make you know why these artists are important.  To advocate for their support.  To facilitate the growth and nourishment of this creative world I call home.

 Here I am. 

 Gareth Owen Hart.  11:11pm on Tuesday 27th October.


If navigating personal territories is about peeling away the surface to get to the core, the rawest most vulnerable part of ourselves, then this festival lived up to it’s name in spades.

HillsceneLIVE 2015 artists were:

Mandy Picket – Discreet Activations
Alex Mann – Painful Pollock
Paul Roberts and Cobie Orger – Not Falling, Dancing
Tal Fitzpatrick – PM Please (#PMplz)
Vivienne Rogis – Pandora’s Box
Adva Weinstein – Isn’t it just
Ellen Davies – A Concerning Dance
Rachel THorpe – No artist is ever morbid
Hugh McSpedden
tbC, Roderick Price and Sherbrooke Community School – Random Methodologies #2
Aviva Endean – Intinmate Sound Immersion
Amy Middleton
Michele Fountain – Textural Forest: Change/Transform


Festival Team

Festival Director: Gareth Hart
Festival Producers: Alana Michaud, Justine Walsh, Toni Main, Zoe Amber PrestonProduction Manager: Stephen Moylan
Photographers: Amelia Ducker, Fergus Floyd
Videographer: Zoe Amber Preston
Caffeination: Capulus Roasters (Johno East)
Potatoes: by Phil
Market Stall holders: Charlie Robertson, Briony Sanmaria, Noris Ariza
Volunteers: Dani-Ela Kayler, Libby Maitland, Clauidia Xantidis, Kel White, Michael lawrence

Check out hillsceneLIVE on facebook

Proudly auspiced by Burrinja Cultural Centre
Proudly funded by Yarra Ranges Council


Burrinja logoYRC horizontal

Ukulele Festival Comes to Town

Post by Ross Farnell.

As the fine tuning is applied to the last details of DRUKE – the Dandenong Ranges Ukulele Festival – coming to Burrinja at the end of May, you can almost hear the 4 short strings of a hundred Ukuleles start to strum and hum in beautiful celebration.

So what is a Ukulele festival all about, and who is bringing us this joyous sound?

We tracked down DRUKE Festival Director Matthew Fagan for a quick chat about all things Ukulele and to get the lowdown on the Festival.

Matthew Fagan

Matthew Fagan – DRUKE organiser

Local hills resident Matthew is already known to many in the region for his virtuoso classical guitar playing – especially his ten-string, but he is also a master of the four strings; from fingerpicking, bluegrass and popular-contemporary to traditional folk music. Matthew performs and hosts Ukulele workshops across the country, from the Port Fairy and Illawarra Folk Festivals to numerous Ukulele festivals and clubs across this vast land. DRUKE is the second year incarnation of the Ukulele Festival, with its origins in the Emerald event run at GEMCO in 2014.

So, what made Matthew want to start a Ukulele Festival in the hills?

Kellie and I moved to the hills from St Kilda a few years ago for the environment and cultural life, and this is now very much our community. We had been the music director and administrator team for some large scale cultural community projects known as “Voyages” for the Cities of Port Phillip and Kingston. Since being endorsed as a ukulele performer for Maton, I have been fortunate enough to enjoy extensive touring experience performing in the USA and Australia at Uke festivals, and could see the potential for the enjoyment of a ukulele festival within the vibrant and unique music community in our Dandenong Ranges – a perfect environment to invite uke players to come and experience what there is to offer in our region.

Our first festival “the Emerald Ukulele Festival” was a great success at the Gemco Theatre, thanks to their great volunteer network. The numbers attending surpassed what we had planned for, so a larger venue was required for year two. Having already performed at Burrinja a number of times and enjoyed the range of performance venues there – from café to theatre – we had a chat with the team there and it seemed like the perfect fit.

Ok, so now we know how and why DRUKE was born. But what does Matthew like the most about the ukulele?

The uke is the People’s instrument. It’s the perfect way to experience playing music for yourself the first time, and the uke inspires fun.

UFO band

UFO band

So as a bit of virtuoso of the four stringed mini-beast, what does Matthew like most about playing ukulele?

It’s a fun and inviting instrument. The ukulele asks you to be yourself making music and to enjoy life and TO SHARE music with friends, strangers, everyone!  Also wherever I travel and I carry my ukulele people all want to hear it, it’s the perfect passport to the world.

Sounds like the ukulele would be the perfect extra luggage on a couch surfing adventure. But what has made it such a popular instrument these days? The Ukulele’s revival, especially in the community setting, has been quite amazing…

The ukulele loves nothing better than another ukulele to make music with. Two is better than one, and three is even better…..and so on. The uke says pick me up and play me – you don’t have to be a violin virtuoso and practice for 10 years to sound good, you can learn a song on the uke in 10 minutes. The uke is also a great fashion accessory – the uke can be any colour, shape , Hawaiian , metal, bluegrass, folk any style that suits you, or your shirt!

Lucy Wise

Lucy Wise

So I had to ask, what’s Matthew’s favourite song played on uke? And without hesitation…

Of course it has to be “Somewhere over the Rainbow”. And my favourite uke player is Roy Smeck form the 1920s vaudeville days.

In three weeks DRUKE is bringing three days of ukulele festivities to the Dandenong Ranges – as Festival Director with the finger on the pulse, what are you looking forward to most this year having moved it to the bigger venues at Burrinja in Upwey?

To hold the Ukulele Festival at Burrinja Cultural Centre is an invaluable opportunity to expand the scope of concerts, performers and activities for all uke players attending. The facilities are perfect for festival goers to attend intimate workshops, concerts and perform themselves at the open blackboard cafe events. Ukulele festivals are most especially all about PARTICIPATION – not just watching. Burrinja provides facilities for all these uke activities in an environment that reflects the earthy feel of our environment in the hills- thus a unique feel and ambience for the ukulele enthusiast. Music, great food and catering are also right here in the festival centre – especially good coffee, an essential for music festivals!

Black Orchid band

Black Orchid band

The Dandenong Ranges Ukulele Festival – DRUKE takes over the entire Burrinja Cultural Centre for three amazing May days of festival fun for everyone from May 29 to 31, 2015.

It’s time for to break out your Hawaiian shirt, dust off your grass skirt and join in as the world of all things Ukulele travels from the sand and shirts of Hawaii to the lush forests of the Hills. From the theatre to café, stages, workshops, gardens and galleries – it’ll be humming and strumming.

The festival line-up features a diverse range of world class ukulele performers, massed ukulele groups, workshops, ‘Women in Uke’, blackboard concerts, competitions, stalls and more!

Highlights include Tomoki Sato (Japan), Paul Jonson (NZ), Lucy Wise (Aus), Sarah Carroll (Queen of Bellarine), Alex Burns (Aus – UK), A.J Leonard & Jenny Rowlands (AUS), Amie Brûlée (France… almost), Matthew Fagan (Aus) and many more.

Tomoki Sato

Tomoki Sato

Sarah Carroll

Sarah Carroll

And if you want to strum your own stuff, check out the competitions and blackboard open stage.

All Festival details are on the DRUKE web site. 3 day Festival Passes get you to every single wonderful event including the Friday festival launch party and the Gala Saturday night concert. But if you can only make one day, then there are day tickets too.

Book online or call the Burrinja Box Office on 9754 8723 for details.

Dandenong Ranges Ukelel Festival poster

Burrinja logo

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

Burrinja logo