Port Fairy festival features Five of the best

MARY ALEXANDER
06 Sep, 2011 04:00 AM
The Standard

THE adventures of the Famous Five will be brought to life in Port Fairy next weekend in a new event for this year’s Festival of Words.

Griffith Island will be transformed into Kirrin Island as a group of children put themselves into the shoes of Enid Blyton’s characters Julian, Dick, Anne, their tomboy cousin George and her beloved dog, Timmy.

Titled Terrific Twenty, four groups of 10 children will relive the Famous Five adventures, starting with a ride on the fishing boat Mulloka with Captain Jane Grimshaw followed by a session on shoreline secrets with environmentalist Margaret O’Toole.

The groups will visit the ship Notorious and the Port Fairy lighthouse, finishing their day with a “smashing picnic with lashings of ginger beer”, typical of Blyton style.

Children’s books are also the focus of two exhibitions during the September 9-11 festival. Felted pictures, which are the lifetime work of Port Fairy artist Wendy Hewett, illustrate scenes from children’s books.

An Australian children’s picture book illustration exhibition will feature original art works and prints by Freya Blackwood, Bronwyn Bancroft, Nicki Greenberg, Robert Ingpen, Chris McKimmie, Sarah Kate Mitchell, Shaun Tan, Jo Thompson and others including Children’s Book Council 2011 award finalists. The festival also features novels, biographies, plays and poetry.

Authors presenting sessions include biographer and historian Roland Perry, whose latest published work is Changi Brownlow, which tells the story of Australian prisoners of war playing Aussie rules while incarcerated in Changi during World War Two. Perry has also written biographies of Sir John Monash, Sir Donald Bradman and Keith Miller.

Two authors of novels about country towns, Gregory Day (The Patron Saint of Eels, The Grand Hotel) and Rosalie Ham (The Dressmaker, Summer at Mount Hope), will talk about the thrills and dangers of writing about small communities.

Workshops for budding writers include writing historical fiction with novelist and The Age columnist Jane Sullivan and writing poetry with Dr Robyn Rowland that will focus on immigration and Irish heritage.

Port Fairy Theatre Group will present two plays and more poetry and Folk Festival favourite Danny Spooner and the Port Singers have a pub session exploring the British traditions transported to Australia.

The Festival of Words program also includes well-loved events such as the big book club and cocktail party, the Barbara Cartland hurl, a comedy debate and a second-hand book sale.

This year 17 booksellers and book craftspeople will be packed into the Reardon Theatre.