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2015 marks the Wheeler Centre’s fifth birthday, and to celebrate we’re bringing you a very special chapter of our beloved annual tradition: A Gala Night of Storytelling.
Once again, a dozen of Australia’s best writers and storytellers will come together in the Melbourne Town Hall on one big night, to share their take on a central theme.
This year, we’re reflecting on ‘five’. Be prepared for anything, from memories of being five to a personal top five list, or the tale of five minutes that changed a life. Twelve stories – personal or political, philosophical or playful, controversial or conservative, solemn or silly.
We’ll hear from Maxine Beneba Clarke, Tim Flannery, Ellen van Neerven, Stephanie Alexander, Robert Dessaix, Anita Heiss, Mark Colvin, Michael Leunig, Eddie Perfect, Robyn Annear, William McInnes and Les Murray.
Maxine Beneba Clarke is a widely published Australian writer of Afro-Caribbean descent. Clarke is the ABIA and Indie award winning author of over nine books for adults and children, including the critically acclaimed short fiction collection Foreign Soil, the best-selling memoir The Hate Race, the Victorian Premier’s Award winning poetry collection Carrying the World, and the Boston Globe/Horn Prize winning picture book The Patchwork Bike, illustrated by Van T. Rudd.
She is the editor of Best Australian Stories 2017, and Growing Up African in Australia. Her forthcoming poetry collection is How Decent Folk Behave (Hachette).
William McInnes is one of Australia’s most popular writers, delighting readers with his memoirs A Man’s Got to have a Hobby and That’d be Right, his novels Cricket Kings and The Laughing Clowns, and his insight into Australian life since the 1940s, written with Essential Media and Entertainment, The Making of Modern Australia. In 2011, with his wife Sarah Watt, he co-wrote Worse Things Happen at Sea, which was named the best non-fiction title in the ABIA and the Indie Awards in 2012. His latest book is Holidays.
Anita Heiss is the author of non-fiction, historical fiction, commercial women's fiction, poetry, social commentary and travel articles. She is a Lifetime Ambassador of the Indigenous Literacy Foundation and a proud member of the Wiradjuri nation of central NSW. Anita was a finalist in the 2012 Human Rights Awards and the 2013 Australian of the Year Awards. She lives in Brisbane.
Les Murray is Australia’s leading poet. In 2015, his first new collection of poems in five years will be published, Waiting for the Past. Bunyah will follow later in the year, a collection that brings together the poems Murray has written about the place where he comes from and by extension about the rural life and small communities of Australia.
Michael Leunig has been drawing and writing for Australian newspapers since 1965. He was born in Melbourne and now lives on a farm in north-eastern Victoria. His work has been widely published overseas and has been adapted in Australia for television, theatre and radio.
Robert Dessaix is a writer, translator, broadcaster and occasional essayist.
Eddie Perfect is one of Australia’s most diverse, respected and prolific writer/composer/performers. At the age of 37, he has already made his mark in the fields of comedy, music theatre composition and book-writing, playwrighting, screenwriting, classical music, jazz and acting for stage and screen.
Mark Colvin is an Australian journalist, filmmaker and broadcaster. He has been the presenter of PM, one of the flagship Australian radio current affairs programs on the ABC Radio network, since 1997.
Stephanie Alexander AO is regarded as one of Australia's great food educators. Her reputation has been earned through her thirty years as an owner-chef in several restaurants, as the author of 14 influential books and hundreds of articles about food matters, and for her groundbreaking work in creating the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation.
In 2014 Stephanie became an Officer of the Order of Australia in recognition of her work with the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation. Her strong belief is that the earlier children learn about food through example and pleasurable hands-on experience, the better their food choices will be throughout life. Her new book, The Cook’s Table, is released October 2016.
Best known for her books Bearbrass: Imagining Early Melbourne and A City Lost and Found: Whelan the Wrecker’s Melbourne, Robyn Annear is also the author of an unpublishable novel set in the city in 1893.
Tim Flannery is a scientist, an explorer, a conservationist and a leading writer on climate change. He has held various academic positions including visiting Professor in Evolutionary and Organismic Biology at Harvard University, Director of the South Australian Museum, Principal Research Scientist at the Australian Museum, Professorial Fellow at the Melbourne Sustainable Society Institute, University of Melbourne, and Panasonic Professor of Environmental Sustainability, Macquarie University. His books include the award-winning international bestseller The Weather Makers, Here on Earth and Atmosphere of Hope. Flannery was the 2007 Australian of the Year. He is currently chief councillor of the Climate Council.
Ellen van Neerven is an award-winning writer of Mununjali Yugambeh (South East Queensland) and Dutch heritage. They write fiction, poetry, plays and non-fiction. Ellen’s first book, Heat and Light, was the recipient of the David Unaipon Award, the Dobbie Literary Award and the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards Indigenous Writers Prize. Ellen’s second book, a collection of poetry, Comfort Food, was shortlisted for the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards Kenneth Slessor Prize and highly commended for the 2016 Wesley Michel Wright Prize. Throat is Ellen’s highly anticipated second poetry collection.
The Wheeler Centre is turning five years old in February. To celebrate our birthday, we’re throwing a series of Galas and inviting everyone to revel in the wonderful world of books, writing and ideas.
In 2008, Melbourne became the second city, after Edinburgh, to be designated a UNESCO City of Literature, an acknowledgement of the breadth, depth and vibrancy of our city’s literary culture. Part of this ambitious State Government initiative was the establishment of the Wheeler Centre, Australia’s first centre dedicated to books, writing and ideas.
We launched on a Saturday night in February 2010 at a packed Melbourne Town Hall, with the inaugural Gala Night of Storytelling. Since then, we’ve hosted more than 200 events each year and welcomed the best local and international talent – both emerging and established – to our stage.
It is this city’s overwhelming appetite for books, writing and ideas that has made the Wheeler Centre a success over the past five years. With this in mind, we are proud to present a series of Galas with something for everyone. Come and celebrate our big fifth birthday with us.