The Salon Series

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at Hansen Hall and Conversation Quarter, State Library VictoriaBooked out

The Salon Series: Country and Culture

Join us for a special celebration of the power of Indigenous storytelling, poetry and music.

This event will honour the 2021 NAIDOC Week theme of ‘Heal Country’, and is the first in a new series of seasonal creative salons presented in partnership with State Library Victoria.

Following a Welcome to Country, acclaimed activist and Miles Franklin-shortlisted author Tony Birch will share selected poems from his new collection Whisper Songs, which traverses the personal and political, and challenges the past to speak up by interrogating the archive. 

Then, Birch will speak with David Unaipon Award-winning author and Distinguished Professor Larissa Behrendt about her extraordinary new novel After Story, which fuses Western literature and Indigenous storytelling in a moving exploration of love and familial secrets. 

Rounding out a unique and powerful evening, 22-year-old Kuku Yalanji, Jirrbal and Badu Island songbird Kee’ahn will share a striking performance of her soulful melodies of identity, heartbreak and healing.

Enjoy a drink from our bar, which will be open before, during and after the event.

This event will be Auslan interpreted. 

Presented in partnership with State Library Victoria 

The bookseller for this event is Readings.

Due to Covid-19 restrictions we will not be able to accommodate walk-ups or a waitlist as may have been the case in the past. Check our website, follow us on social media or sign up to our e-newsletter The Wheeler Weekly for updates and any late ticket releases.

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Portrait of Larissa Behrendt

Larissa Behrendt

Larissa Behrendt is Professor of Indigenous Research and Director of Research at the Jumbunna Indigenous House of Learning at the University of Technology, Sydney. She is a regular columnist for The Guardian and has published numerous textbooks on Indigenous legal issues. She is also the author of two novels: Home, which won the 2002 David Unaipon Award and the 2005 Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best First Book (South-East Asia and South Pacific); and Legacy, which won the 2010 Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for Indigenous Writing. She is the Ambassador of the Gawura Aboriginal Campus at St Andrew’s Cathedral School in Sydney and a board member of the Sydney Story Factory, a literacy program in Redfern. She was awarded the 2009 NAIDOC Person of the Year award and 2011 NSW Australian of the Year. After Story is her latest novel, coming out July 2021 with UQP.

Portrait of Kee'ahn


Kee’ahn is a proud Kuku Yalanji, Jirrbal, Zenadth Kes song woman who has recently ventured from her home town in North Queensland, to pursue her dream in the Kulin Nation (Melbourne, Australia).

With a name coming from the Wik people, meaning to dance, to sing, to play, Kee’ahn aims to honour her name and Ancestors through her soulful music that weaves lush melodies and words reminiscent of heartbreak and healing.

Portrait of Tony Birch

Tony Birch

Tony Birch is the author of three novels: the bestselling The White Girl, winner of the 2020 NSW Premier's Award for Indigenous Writing, and shortlisted for the 2020 Miles Franklin Literary Prize; Ghost River, winner of the 2016 Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for Indigenous Writing, and Blood, which was shortlisted for the Miles Franklin Award in 2012. He is also the author of Shadowboxing, and three short story collections – Father’s Day, The Promise and Common People.

In 2017 Tony was awarded the Patrick White Literary Award. In 2021 he will release two new books, a poetry collection, Whisper Songs, and a new short story collection, Dark as Last Night. Tony Birch is also an activist, historian and essayist.

How much?

$35 and $30 concession and State Library Victoria Cultural Members, plus a one-off transaction fee of $4 per order. Tickets for First Nations people are free.Booked out

The Salon Series

The salon has a long and storied history as a space for the discussion of art, ideas, politics, literature and philosophy. Salons have been meeting sites for cultural figures from E.M. Forster and Virginia Woolf, to Picasso, Hemingway and F Scott Fitzgerald. Whether it’s A’Lelia Walker in 1920s Harlem, Marcel Proust in 19th century Paris, or Melbourne’s very own Heide Circle, salons have invigorated cultural and intellectual life across the globe.

In partnership with State Library Victoria, we’re bringing you a series of seasonal creative salons celebrating Australia’s most exciting thinkers and performers. With old-school flair and a contemporary spin, we’ll hear from writers, poets and musicians whose work is defining the current-day cultural agenda and will resonate for years to come.

So grab a glass of wine, pull up a chair, and dive into a vibrant evening of creativity and culture.

Presented in partnership with