February 21, 2017

It’s no secret – I love Australian children’s literature. From picture books to Australian young adult novels and everything in between, I’m passionate about reading, writing and the industry. I also love people and places that value Australian literature and strive to foster a love for reading and books in our young people. There’s a very special place in Riddell’s Creek, Victoria, that does just that. Dromkeen Homestead.

Home of Australian Children's Literature

Dromkeen Homestead

I first visited Dromkeen in the mid 80s, when I was a graduate primary school teacher with a head full of dreams to be a writer. At the time, I was in charge of 30 very lively and completely gorgeous Grade 5 students and Dromkeen was owned by Scholastic Australia.

Sue Lawson Author

Teaching days – or daze! Miss Rizzo. Complete with perm and pretend Ray Bans . 1985.

Scholastic purchased the property from Joyce and Courtney Oldmeadow and continued the Oldmeadow’s tradition of exhibiting original artworks and manuscripts from Australian children’s picture books. Pretty sure it was Julie Vivas’ work on display when I visited.

In 2012 the Dromkeen Collection was moved to the State Library, and the homestead was offered for sale.

Australian writers and illustrators held their collective breaths, hoping whoever bought Dromkeen would have a passion for children’s literature and maintain its important role in the Australian literary landscape. Quite a few of us even started buying lotto tickets!

In 2013, the Joiner family purchased Dromkeen Homestead. When they reopened the 1889 built property as a centre for Australian children’s literature, authors and illustrated cheered – and lotto sales declined.  Dromkeen Homestead is once again a hive of book and story related activity – from exhibitions and storytelling to literature festivals and school visits.

Children’s Literature Festival

On March 18, 2017, its the 2017 Dromkeen Literary Festival. Okay, so I’m biased – many of the writers and illustrators at the festival are friends – but, this will be a cracking day! There’s talks, readings, workshops, book sales and signings and all kinds of other booky-goodness.

children and young adult author, Glenda Millard

Glenda Millard, Australian author.

Children's author, Claire Saxby

Children’s author, Claire Saxby

Last year’s festival was an enormous success and this year is shaping up as being even better. The line up includes Claire Saxby, Gabby Wang, Glenda Millard, Marc Macbride, Ann James, Ann Haddon and Mark Wilson.  All incredibly talented and completely lovely people.

As well as attending talks and workshops, you can visit the ‘Fine Focus–  a life in art and illustration’ exhibition which features the work of award winning Australian author and illustrator Rachel Tonkin.

So block out your diary for March 18, and Google Dromkeen for ticket details, the location, and of course, the program.

Wonder if that poor peacock recovered after the Grade Five boys insisted on imitating its cry. Not sure I have!