Contact or call 8677 4815 if you have any questions or for bookings.

2018 | That’s a wrap!

Thank you to everybody who made the 2018 program possible. WestWords worked with 90 authors (!) in total in 2018. Thank you to all the participants of workshops and attendants of our events. Congratulations to all the successful fellows, artists in residence and mentees! WestWords is excited to bring a whole new program to you in 2019 including more writers groups, workshops and plenty of interesting events. WATCH THIS SPACE.


Past events

Parramatta Centre for Writing

HSC English Extension 2: Everything you need to succeed in HSC English Extension 2 with Felicity Castagna

This event has now passed and was on Sunday 18th November 2018. Thank you to Felicity Castagna and everyone who attended the workshop.

Everything you need to succeed in English Extension 2

This one-day course will take students far beyond the fundamentals of writing to look at what distinguishes great Major Works across all textual forms. The course will focus on;

What makes an original and distinctive creative work: Students will look at the current trends in major works and creative writing more broadly as well as looking at some distinguishing features of each form and what makes for a successful major work.

Researching for Creative Writing:  Extension 2 is a course that requires students to make creative work that exhibits critical research. Students will learn what exactly that means and how it works on a practical creative level.

Applying critical theory to a creative work: Students will look at what critical theory is and how it can inform creative work.

Voice: Voice is both the most important aspect of creative writing and the hardest thing to do well. Students get beyond cliché and learn to create original and sophisticated pieces of work by considering some of the techniques required to create a powerful sense of voice

Play and Experimentation: There is a thin line between experimenting and playing with language and form and making writing that just doesn’t make sense. Students will look at strategies for creating work that is both experimental and playful, while still having three-dimensional characters and an engaging story.

Felicity Castagna
’s first book was a collection of stories, Small Indiscretions: Stories of Travel in Asia (Transit Lounge, 2011). Her second book was a young adult novel set in Parramatta, The Incredible Here and Now (Giramondo, 2013), which has won the Prime Minister’s Literature Award (YA) and the IBBY Honour Book for Australia. It has also been shortlisted for the NSW Premier’s Literature Awards, the WA Premier’s Book Awards and The Children’s Book Council of Australia Book of the Year Award. Her latest book is No More Boats (Giramondo, 2017) which was short listed for The Miles Franklin Award this year. She has written for stage, television and radio and her essays and short stories frequently appear in newspapers and magazines. She holds a PhD in Australian literature and is the current National Ambassador for Literacy. Felicity spent several years as a high school English teacher before leaving to teach creative writing in universities, community organisations and schools. She is an experienced Extension 1 and 2 teacher as well as an HSC marker who has marked both of these sections for the Board of Studies.

This course was presented in conjunction with Writing NSW

A Touch of Poetry

The next event in the ‘A Touch of Poetry’ reading series will be with Michelle Cahill on the theme of ‘The poet’s life is not a cliche’? how poetry speaks through loss, private and cultural, the passing of time, historical trauma, & her new poems on extinctions.

This even has now past and was on Thursday 1st November. Thank you to everyone who came along and made the night special.

Michelle Cahill is a Sydney based writer of Indian ancestry. Her short story collection Letter to Pessoa won the NSW Premier’s Literary Award for New Writing and was shortlisted in the Steele Rudd Queensland Literary Awards. Her honours include the Val Vallis Award, the Hilary Mantel International Short Story Prize and the ABR Elizabeth Jolley Prize shortlist. Vishvarupa was shortlisted in the Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards, The Herring Lass, is published by Arc. She was Poetry Fellow at Kingston Writing School and a Creative Writing Scholar at UNC, Charlotte. She co-edited Contemporary Asian Australian Poets and is series editor for the Vagabond Press deciBels3. You can follow her @theherringlass She is also founding editor and Artistic Director of Mascara Literary Review, a bi-annual literary journal co-founded in 2007, Mascara is particularly interested in the work of contemporary migrant, Asian Australian and Aboriginal writers. Her website is

Writing and Illustrating with Jacqueline Harvey and Mitch Vane

This workshop was on Wednesday the 3rd of October.

A full house of kids spent a whole day of writing and illustrating with best-selling author Jacqueline Harvey and award-winning illustrator and this year’s WestWords and Parramatta Artist Studios illustrator in residence Mitch Vane.

The day began with a writing workshop with the lovely Jacqueline Harvey where the young writers learnt to build their own worlds and all the quirks that exist within them. After a break they activated their drawing skills with an illustration workshop run by the brilliant Mitch Vane creating a character for their very own Urban Forest.


Mitch Vane is a freelance illustrator and painter based in Melbourne.

She has had a long career working in all forms of art and design including creating an original series of Zodiac themed stamps for Australia Post

Her distinctive loose energetic style can be seen in the many children’s books she has illustrated including The Deep End / Ursula Dubosarsky , Danny Best series / Jen Storer, and  Our Last Trip to the Market with Lorin Clarke.

Mitch often collaborates with writer  Danny Katz – her cartoons appeared with his weekly humour column in The Age for over 12 years, and together they have created many children’s books including No Thanks Hanks, A Book About Scary, and the recently launched series The Poppa Platoon.

They are best known for their much loved Little Lunch series, which has been successfully  adapted as a 28 episode TV series for ABC3.
Mitch divides her time in the studio working on art projects of her own as well as children’s books, running workshops, and visiting schools and libraries throughout the year.

You can see more of what Mitch is up to on her website
mitch vane art on facebook, and mitch vane books on instagram.


Jacqueline Harvey had spent 20 years building a career in schools before making a big breakthrough as an author in 2012, and today is one of Australia’s most popular authors. She is the author of bestselling Alice-Miranda and Clementine Rose series, that have been sold to the US, UK, Indonesia, Turkey, Brazil, and Hungary for rights. The series also have won major awards such as YABBA for Younger Readers and shortlisted on the REAL awards and Australian Book Industry Award. Her first and only picture book, The Sound of the Sea, was an Honour Book in the 2006 Children’s Book Council Awards. She is an ambassador for Dymocks Children’s Charities and Room to Read. She lives in Sydney with her husband.

Creative Writing 101 with Luke Carman

There are no secrets, no cheats, maps or recipes to guide our development as creative writers. Creative writing, in all its forms, is a lived artistic practice – a kind of hero’s journey – and it is only through living it fully and faithfully that we can address the trappings of our path to progress. Dead sentences take root in our keyboards, clichés cling to our fingertips, and the riches of our imaginations seem always just beyond grammatical reach.
The award-winning author Luke Carman invites you to join him for a series of workshops, hosted by WestWords, where together we can dig those mixed-metaphors and dull sentences out by the root, cross the wild terrain of our imaginative landscapes, and live out our practice on the page in all its splendid potential.

New sessions to be announced 2019
Wednesday evenings for six weeks, 18.30-20.00

Cost: $250 member/$330 non-member

If you would like to sign up to become a member and access the member discount — which also gives you 24/7 access to a desk at WestWords’ Centre for Writing Parramatta Writers’ Room — you can do so here.

Writing and Society Research centre event and Portraits, Bankstown Campus

Luke Carman is the author of An Elegant Young Man, which was awarded a NSW Premier’s Literary Award in 2015 and shortlisted for the ALS Gold Medal. In 2014 he was named a Sydney Morning Herald Best Young Novelist. His work has been published in Meanjin, Sydney Review of Books, Heat, The Lifted Brow, Seizure, The Australian, Cultural Studies Review, Global Media Journal, SBS Online, ABC TV, Sonofabook, and so on.


LGBTQIA+ writing group

Western Sydney is a place that many people in the queer community call home. All LGBTQIA+-identifying writers are welcome to join this group which will be run by a queer-identifying facilitator. Participation is free!

7pm-8.30pm, fortnightly Tuesdays starting 12 June. You can fill out the EOI here or contact for more details.


Poetry with Michelle Cahill

In this series of three workshops poet and author Michelle Cahill will teach on aspects of poetic craft: image, metaphor and voice. The focus is on how writers can best hone their language and sensibility to communicate lyric and narrative from and about Western Sydney , threading and reinvigorating culture, home, history and community. Poetry can be a powerful energy, rupturing the heteronormative with the strange, the alien, the haunted, the natural, the surreal.

New dates to be announced 2019
Cost: $125 member/$165 non-member



Michelle Cahill’s short story collection won the UTS Glenda Adams Award in the NSW Premier’s Literary Award. She is the author of three collections of poetry. Vishvarupa was short-listed in the VPLA and her latest collection is The Herring Lass.



Mitch Vane Kids’ Illustration Workshop at Katoomba Library

This event was on Tuesday Oct 2nd.
Katoomba Library30 Parke St, Katoomba NSW 2780
Thank you to Mitch Vane and all the wonderful participants.

Tockify Panel (24)

westwords and sponsor logos

This was a fabulous chance for kids to meet the awesome illustrator, Mitch Vane. Mitch has worked with greats such as Danny Katz and Jen Storer and led an illustration workshop called ‘Creature Features’ – a fun brainstorming workshop creating a character for the participant’s own inner-urban forest. Workshop provided by WestWords and hosted by Blue Mountains Library.

Creative Writing for Fun and Profit* with James Roy

The best stories aren’t just about the events that happen – who these events happen to is really the key to an engaging piece of writing. Over five interactive (and occasionally challenging) sessions, award-winning writer James Roy will guide you through the boundless world of characters, and show you how to improve your creative writing by asking some searching questions of those characters once you’ve discovered them. Also covered will be idea-harvesting, killer beginnings, editing like a reader, and writing-practice tips that are proven. “Talent” and writing experience aren’t essential – just enthusiasm and willingness to share.
* Profit not guaranteed. Fun definitely.

This workshop was on Sunday June 3, June 17, July 1, July 15, July 29. Thank you to James and all the participants.

The Den, WestWords Katoomba Writers’ Room, Gallery ONE88, 186/188 Katoomba Street Katoomba NSW


James Roy

James Roy is the author of 34 books. James’ latest novel for children, One Thousand Hills (written with Noël Zihabamwe) won the Young People’s Literature Award in May this year. It also won the Young People’s History Prize at the NSW Premier’s History Awards in 2016.

Previous titles include Miss UnderstoodAnonymity Jones and Edsel Grizzler: Rescue MissionCaptain Mack and Billy Mack’s War both received Children’s Book Council Honours, and Town received the 2008 NSW Premier’s Award.


Now What?  Re-writing Workshop with Inez Baranay

“I’ve written a first draft. Now what?!”

You know what comes next is revision, editing, rewriting, refining. But just how do you do that? What decisions do you have to make? Where do you start? When do you stop?

Many new writers think that having written a draft of new work, the work is done. What is done is that valuable first draft, essential for the next stage.

A workshop for writers who are serious about taking the next steps to improve their narrative works in prose, screenplay, fiction, non-fiction, hybrid, long or short forms.


Inez Baranay is a highly regarded writing teacher and mentor, and the widely published author of 12 critically acclaimed books with short stories and articles published in Griffith Review, Meanjin, Wet Ink and others. To read some of her works online visit

This workshop was on Saturday 5 and 12 May 2018 and has now past. Thank you kindly to Inez Baranay and all the participants.

The Making of a Poem with Judith Beveridge

One of the root words for poetry is poesis—’making’. But what exactly ‘makes’ poetry and how do poems work? By looking at a variety of poems class members will uncover some of the elements surrounding the ‘making’ of poetry and gain a fuller understanding and appreciation of poetry’s power. This two-day course in both writing and appreciation is open to all those interested in the craft of poetry. The main focus will be in developing the writing and critical skills of each person. We will look at imagery, metaphor, sound, the line, and both free verse and formal verse. Each person will get to workshop their own poems.

This workshop was on May 26-27 and has now past. A big thanks to Judith Beveridge and all the participants.


Judith Beveridge has published six books of poetry all of which have won, or been short-listed for major prizes. Her next collection Sun Music: New and Selected Poems will be published in June, 2018, by Giramondo Publishing. She has been awarded both the Philip Hodgins Memorial Medal and the Christopher Brennan Award for lifetime achievement in literature. She has taught poetry workshops in high schools, universities and in community centres and has edited several anthologies. From 2005-2016 she was the poetry editor for Meanjin. Her work has been translated into several languages and has been studied in universities and schools.



Indigenous Knowledge

This event has now passed and was on Thursday 29 November. Thank you to Aunty Fran, Mark Tredinnick, Kirli Saunders and Ethan Bell and everyone who attended the event.

Aunty Fran will lead an intergenerational conversation about the melding of culture and science in Australia – how ethno-scientific knowledge passed down by traditional clans (passed to Aunty Fran through her Aboriginal mother)  is being increasingly referred to by modern research, to promote a deeper understanding of how to care for our natural environment.

Panellists will be Kirli Saunders, Gunai woman, poet, educator, and children’s author and Ethan Bell, Ngunnawal man and Campbelltown local.  The evening will be MC-ed by eminent poet and WestWords Campbelltown Writers Retreat manager, Mark Tredinnick.

Aunty Frances Bodkin is a descendent of the D’harawal people of the Bidiagal clan. She is an educator of D’harawal knowledge and holds a Bachelor of Arts and Sciences with five majors, one of which is Environmental Sciences. Combining the knowledge passed down through her Aboriginal mother, her university education and her unquenchable journey of lifelong learning, she brings a holistic understanding of the environment.

Writing Place with Mark Tredinnick, Kirli Saunders and Ethan Bell

A two-day workshop on nature writing and the evocation of place, led by Mark Tredinnick (“one of our great poets of place”) and Kirli Saunders—Gunai woman, poet, educator, and children’s author.  The workshop includes a welcome to country and a walk in the nearby Dharawal National Park led by Ethan Bell, Ngunnawal man and Campbelltown local.

This event was on Saturday and Sunday 20th and 21st of October, 10am-4pm in our Campbelltown Writers’ Retreat at Wedderburn. Thank you to Mark, Kirli and Ethan and all the participants, it was a wonderful weekend full of inspiration and great work.

Mark Tredinnick
—whose many books include Almost Everything I Know, Bluewren Cantos, Fire Diary, The Blue Plateau, and The Little Red Writing Book—is a celebrated poet, essayist, and writing teacher. “One of our great poets of place,” Judy Beveridge has called him. His honours include the Montreal and Cardiff Poetry Prizes, The Blake and Newcastle Poetry Prizes, two Premiers’ Literature Awards, and the Calibre Essay Prize. The Blue Plateau, his landscape memoir, was shortlisted for the Prime Minister’s Prize. He travels and teaches widely, in schools and at festivals, through Australia and in the US and UK. and he works with the corporate sector to explore the truths and graces poetry gives access to. Last year his poem “The Horse” won the ACU Poetry Prize; in March 2017, his poem “Panic Very Softly, Love” won the Ron Pretty Poetry Prize. In 2017, too, he judged the Montreal and Blake Poetry Prizes.

Three of Mark’s poems—“Sandhill Cranes,” “Frogmouth on the Wire,” and “Catching Fire”—translated by Isabelle Li, appear in Famous Writing in World Literature, published by ZZHW (The Writers Publishing House), in November 2017. In November, a collection of poems he wrote inhouse in 2016 for the landscape architecture firm TCL, appears in book form: Anthology: Gardening the Future: An Essay in Plants, Poetry, and Image.

Andrew Motion has written of Mark Tredinnick: “his is a bold, big-thinking poetry, in which ancient themes (especially the theme of our human relationship with landscape) are recast and rekindled.” He is at work on a memoir of the reading life, Reading Slowly at the End of Time. His next Australian collection of poems, Days and Nights, will be published by Pitt Street Poetry in mid 2017; a fourth collection, Walking Underwater, appears in the US (Hip Pocket Press) later that year. He’s just finished a collaboration, A Hundred Miles From Home: One Hundred Haiku, with poet Peter Annand and painter John R Walker. “Like the singing of the birds he loves,” Jean Kent has said, “Mark Tredinnick’s poetry feels artlessly beautiful.”

Mark Tredinnick is the father of five. He lives and writes at Picton.

Kirli Saunders is a proud Gunai woman with ties to the Yuin, Gundungurra, Gadigal and Biripi people. Kirli is the Manager of Poetic Learning and Aboriginal Cultural Liaison at Red Room Poetry. She was awarded ‘Worker of the Year 2017’ at the NAIDOC awards in the Illawarra/ Shoalhaven region and has been nominated for a National NAIDOC award in 2018. Kirli founded the Poetry in First Languages project. Her first children’s picture book The Incredible Freedom Machines, illustrated by Matt Ottley was selected for Bologna Book Fair and is published internationally in French and English. Her second picture book Our Dreaming will be released by Scholastic in December 2019, Happy Ever After will follow in July 2020. Kirli’s First Poetry Collection, Kindred is to be released by Magabala in December 2019, it was Highly Commended in the 2018 Black&Write! prize. Kirli’s poem ‘A Dance of Hands’ was Runner-up in the Nakata Brophy Prize. Kirli’s poetry has been published by Cordite and Overland and has embedded in infrastructure at Darling Harbour and the Royal Botanical Gardens, Melbourne. In 2018, Kirli was Writer in Residence at Bundanon Trust, Q Station and The Literature Centre, Fremantle for ‘The Sound of Picture Books’.

On Grief and Joy: A Conversation on the importance of the lyric expression of lament and grief and joy, with Darius Sepehri, Kirli Saunders, and Mark Tredinnick.

This event was on Friday 12 October at the Campbelltown library. Thank you to Mark, Kirli and Darius for sharing your wisdom and to everyone who attended and made the evening special.

It is often said we don’t do grief well in the West. One of the uses of lyric poetry is to give form to the sadness that accompanies the joys of human existence—to make it beautiful and bearable. All good poetry articulates love, and it sings all our grief, as Judith Wright once put it. Good grief, lyric lament, the kind that heals, animates, in particular, the poetry of Hafez and Gabir and Rumi and other poets in the Mystic tradition, a tradition studied by Persian speaker and scholar Darius Sepehri; it also sings in Indigenous literature. Join Darius, Indigenous poet Kirli Saunders, and acclaimed Australian poet Mark Tredinnick, for an evening of poetry and a conversation about how to make our lives worthy of our suffering.

Writing and illustrating with Ursula Dubosarsky and Tohby Riddle 

Intended for children 8-12, join Ursula Dubosarsky and Tohby Riddle on a full-day workshop as they show you how to write and illustrate your own children’s stories!

This workshop was on August 25. Thank you to Ursula and Tohby and all the participants. 



Ursula Dubosarsky wanted to be a writer from the age of six, and is now the author of over 50 books for children and young adults, which have won several national prizes, including the NSW, Victorian, South Australian and Queensland Premier’s Literary Awards. Apart from fiction and pictures books such as “Too Many Elephants in This House”, she has also written the non-fiction “Word Spy” books about the English language. Her latest novels are “The Blue Cat”, set in harbourside Sydney in 1942, “The Red Shoe”, set during the Petrov spy crisis in 1954, and “The Golden Day”, set in a girls’ school in 1967. She lives in Sydney with her family.

Tohby Riddle is an award-winning writer, illustrator, cartoonist, designer and sometime editor based in Sydney. He has written and illustrated numerous well-loved picture books; written a young adult novel; was the cartoonist for Good Weekend for nearly ten years; and is a former editor of The School Magazine, a literary magazine for children published by the NSW Department of Education.

Poetry workshop with  Mark Tredinnick

A one-day workshop, part inspiration, part technique, part practice, with acclaimed poet Mark Tredinnick, for aspiring and experienced poets alike, and everyone interested in learning more about how good poems work.

This workshop was on June 24. Thank you to Mark and all the participants. 

Haiku and Tanka Workshop, including ginko walk, with Julie Thorndyke and Beverley George

Part nature walk part poetry adventure, join Beverley George and Julie Thorndyke on a full-day workshop wandering the bushland of the writers’ retreat, responding to your surrounds through the mediums of haiku and tanka.

When: New date to be announced in February 2019

Where: 391 Wedderburn Road, Campbelltown Writers’ Retreat at Wedderburn

Cost: $50/$30 concession


Beverley George is an Australian poet who has been writing haiku, tanka, and haibun since 1997. A writer also of mainstream poetry, articles, and short stories, she won the W.B. Yeats Poetry Prize for Australia and New Zealand in 2004 and 2005, the Vera Newsom Poetry Prize 2005 and the Society of Women Writers (NSW) Prize 2006. From 2000-2006 she was the producer and editor of the magazine, Yellow Moon, which enjoyed an international reputation and readership. In 2006, she founded Eucalypt: A Tanka Journal, the first journal in Australia dedicated entirely to tanka. She was president of the Australian Haiku Society 2006-10, has presented a paper on haiku in Australia in Matsuyama, Japan and one on tanka in Australia in Tokyo, Japan. In 2009 she convened the four-day 4th Haiku Pacific Rim Conference in Terrigal, Australia.

Julie Thorndyke has written two collections of tanka poetry, Rick Rack and Carving Granite. Her stories and poems have appeared in literary journals and anthologies in Australia and overseas. Leader of the local Tanka Huddle, Julie was appointed continuing editor of Eucalypt: a tanka journal in 2017. Julie’s first picture book will be published by IP in 2018. More of her writing may be read on her website

The Why, When and How of Self Publishing with Natalie Muller

Self-Publishing has always been a valid form of publication, but with so many options how do you even start? This course will look at the in’s and out’s of self publishing. What are the technical options? What format should you use? What help is available? How do I market this? Should I self publish or continue seeking a traditional publisher? Who is out there to beware of? Self Publishing can be a wonderfully liberating activity, or a terrible waste of time and money, arming yourself with the correct information can make all the difference.

New dates to be confirmed in 2019 contact for expressions of interest.

Where: 391 Wedderburn Rd, Campbelltown Writers’ Retreat at Wedderburn

Cost: $30 for members of the writers’ room, $50 for non-members


Natalie Muller holds a Masters of Arts in Writing from Swinburne University. In 2013 she developed and implemented the BMCC Library Editor-in-Residence program, working with local Blue Mountains writers to develop their work, a program now in its fifth year. She is the founding editor of  Black Cockie Press and The Wild Goose Literary e-Journal, specialising in new Australian writing. She is also the author of the novel Poisoning the Nest.

School for Style: Creative Writing Masterclasses with Mark Tredinnick

The Wedderburn Writing Workshop: A Creative Writing Masterclass. A practical and inspiring workshop run every other Sunday from 5 August to 14 October. Led by acclaimed poet Mark Tredinnick (author of The Little Red Writing Workshop), and conducted in the lovely weatherboard schoolhouse where Mark curates events for WestWords, the workshop covers all genres and caters for writers of all ages and stages. A chance, over three months, to develop your craft, get some terrific writing done, and make progress, under Mark’s tutelage, toward a finished manuscript.

New dates to be announced in 2019

Where: 391 Wedderburn Rd, Campbelltown Writers’ Retreat at Wedderburn

Cost: $330 for non-members, $250 for members

In Conversation: Hugh Mackay and Mark Tredinnick

Mark and Hugh will be in conversation to discuss Hugh’s latest work of non-fiction, whose subject is working towards a more compassionate, less anxious society. They will discuss uses of the imagination as well as politics in fashioning a kinder and less anxious society, as well as the different kinds of truth fiction and non-fiction tell.

New date to be confirmed in 2019

Where: 391 Wedderburn Rd, Campbelltown Writers’ Retreat at Wedderburn

Cost: $15 for members, $20 for non-members


Hugh Mackay is Australia’s leading social researcher, and the author of eighteen books — eleven in the field of social analysis and ethics, and seven novels. His recent books include The Good LifeThe Art of Belonging and Beyond Belief. Hugh is a fellow of the Australian Psychological Society and has been awarded honorary doctorates by Charles Sturt, Macquarie, New South Wales, Wollongong, and Western Sydney universities. In 2015, he was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia.

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