Rocking Rolling Riding - Sydney Conference Kicks Off

2019 Sydney Conference Superstar, Susanne Gervay described it as a BUZZ. Sydney Trains might remember it as something more chaotic but one thing is for certain, cram a bunch of excited children’s authors, illustrators, and publishers on a train bound for Beecroft and you’ve got a recipe for LOUD!

120 people: kids lit industry personnel, families and creators were drawn to Beecroft for this event

120 people: kids lit industry personnel, families and creators were drawn to Beecroft for this event

The Event: Celebrating Books with Paul McDonald at The Children’s Bookshop, Beecroft

The Creators:

  • Christina Booth

  • Amelia McInerney

  • Meredith Costain

  • Shelly Unwin

  • Aura Parker

  • Kelly Hibbert

  • Aleesha Darlinson

  • Caz Goodwin

  • Dimity Powell

The Brief:

A speed launch of their latest work of art, aka children’s book. The variety and scope of topics was incredible, illustrating to the crowd of 120 just how diverse and awesome picture books and junior novels really are.

The hilarious, moving and insightful presentations were delivered with humility and humor and from a personal point of view, were a tremendous way of sharing the love of story with so many in such a brief but brilliant time. I found this experience immensely fulfilling, and enjoyed every second of it. What a privilege to be in the same room with so much talent.

Here are some of the highlights from the raucous trip in; the presenters; and the crowd!

We could have stayed in that bookshop all afternoon but of course, there was a Conference to attend.

Come back soon for the next exciting installment of Sydney 2019!

Rove ya later!

Dimity (Head Rover)



Images courtesy of RRer, Maria Parenti-Baldey and various kid lit sharers.

Behind the Scenes: Meet THE BEATNICKERS! Meredith Costain

Literary legend and master of the keyboard, Meredith is no stranger to SCBWI conferences. If you’ve never got down and dirty (aka hot and sweaty) on the dance floor with her rocking tunes, you’re in for a treat. Wax lyrical for …

Meredith Costain.jpg

Meredith Costain

Briefly state your conference role and conference responsibilities

I have a bit of a mixed bag this year! I’ll be part of the Creating Passionate Poets panel (lots of excellent alliteration right there!) for the PD Day on the Tuesday, and also doing some manuscript assessments for Ford Street.

But most importantly I’ll be flexing my fingers, cranking up the keyboard and – in the words of the immortal Blues Brothers – ‘getting the band back together’ for the Beatnickers’ third outing at the SCWBI Dinner Dance on the Monday night. Should be a hoot! (If not a nanny )

How long have you been part of the SCBWI Band and what made you sign up for it: the money, the notoriety, the free scotch finger biscuits?

The SCBWI band seems to have morphed out of a few late-night (well-oiled) jam sessions around the grand piano in the foyer of the Hughenden Hotel in 2010. By the next conference I’d managed to co-opt a few more SCBWI members to put together a ‘lounge band’ with Scott Chambers and Chris Cheng on guitar, various vocalists (led by the inimitable James Foley) and even a ukulele.

2014 saw us ‘plug in’ for surround sound, with Mark Greenwood on drums, Scott and James in full flight, and a host of guests. Karen Collum stepped up brilliantly to play keyboards at the last conference when I was a late scratching (with even more stellar guests up on stage) – and this year I’m back, ready to (rock and) roll. Bring your dancing shoes!

What made me sign up for it? Ummm … the free wine? (Were there scotch finger biscuits?!?) (There’s free wine?! Where’s my ukulele… Ed.)

Describe your most notable achievement or proudest moment in Kids’ Lit to date

Being awarded the Graham Davey Citation for my contribution to Australian children’s literature at the YABBA awards in November meant a lot to me. The next week one of the Ella Diaries (brilliantly illustrated by Danielle McDonald) won Honour Book in the junior fiction section at the KOALA awards in Sydney. And then a couple of weeks after that I headed off to India with Leigh Hobbs to take part in children’s book festivals, school visits and creators’ content conferences as part of Australia Fest. So a great month!

What is the most memorable (SCBWI) Conference experience you’ve had to date, or hope to have?

Staying up till very late (were there birds chirping?) in a little room in the Hughie, drinking wine and chatting to US poet Ellen Hopkins and people who have since become close and dear (and I suspect lifelong!) friends. This is one of the biggest take-aways an event like the SCBWI conference can offer, and why I keep coming back.

Name one thing you can’t live without

Only one? Good friends that get your jokes and have your back. (Plus the usual: books, music, wine, chocolate et cetera, et cetera, et cetera . . .) ( and nut-filled M & Ms?! Ed.)

Provide at least one Fun Fact from a SCBWI Conference you’ve attended or played at (anywhere in the world)

100+ sweaty people in a room doing the Nutbush! And not letting the band have a break because they wanted to keep dancing. Now that’s commitment.

Visit Meredith and her astounding library of written work at

With only a couple more weeks to go until the next Sydney 2019 SCBWI Conference, you should have packed your dancing shoes, manuscripts, coloured pencils and notebooks and booked your tickets by now. There’s still however plenty of time to settle back and meet a couple more of the amazing faces behind the names of the people behind the scenes of this incredible event. Till then,

Rove ya’ later!

Dimity (Head Gardener)


Don't Miss the Boat!

In less time than you can holler, hoist the main sail, bookings for the SCBWI Sydney 2016 Conference will open. Yes, jump on board and secure your tickets NOW!

The Sydney 2016 Conference is shaping up to be a premier event packed with incentives, workshops, awards, and opportunities to fulfill all of your illustrating and writing aspirations. The Conference Program is now set with some sensational sessions and master-classes lined up, all guaranteed to strengthen your insight into the world of creating children’s books.

Along with a dazzling array of industry professionals from Australia and the US ready to 'gently comment' on your work, this promises to be an exceptional literary conference and networking experience, not to be missed. Spaces are limited so it’s a case of first in best dressed.

Best to get a wriggle on. You don’t want to miss your boat and be stuck waiting on the dock.

Browse the links below for detailed information, date deadlines, rates and how to book.

Now that you are ready to set sail, sit back and stay tuned. In the coming months, you’ll get to know some of the faces behind the scenes, meet our Roving Reporter Team and much more.

Rove ya’ later!   Dimity