10am - 4pm
About Dromkeen

Welcome to the 2017 Dromkeen Literary Festival

This is our second public festival celebrating Australian Children’s Literature.

Books Can Take Us Anywhere

Dromkeen Homestead was built in 1889 as the country estate of Victorian Supreme Court Judge Arthur Chomley (1837–1914). Dromkeen was named after his mother’s family home in Dromkeen, in County Limerick in Ireland.

From 1973, Joyce and Courtney Oldmeadow used the homestead as a private residence and educational bookshop, with a public display of original artworks and manuscripts from Australian children’s picture books. It became a home for Australian children’s literature. Scholastic Australia purchased the homestead in 1985 and continued to maintain the Dromkeen Collection until it was moved to the State Library in 2012.

In 2013 Dromkeen was purchased by the Joiner family and reopened as a centre for Australian children’s literature. Dromkeen is once more host to hundreds of visitors, including school and tertiary groups, offering the opportunity to take part in workshops run by Australian authors and illustrators and also to view original picture book illustration.

Our current Gallery Exhibition is ‘Fine Focus–  a life in art and illustration’ by the award winning author and illustrator Rachel Tonkin. Curated by Books Illustrated, it is an exquisite retrospective of the life’s work of one of Australia’s finest illustrators.

The March 18th 2017 Festival continues the theme of Australian children’s literature and will be an exciting event suitable for children, teachers, librarians, families and all children’s book enthusiasts. There will be opportunities to meet and listen to a marvellous team of authors, illustrators, cartoonists and story-readers.

Tickets Available on TryBooking
A festival celebrating Australian Children’s Literature and Storytelling
Litfest 2017

There will be: Talks and readings by children’s authors and illustrators and a publisher, hands on workshops,
viewing of original illustrations, a range of fantastic book related activities in the garden and
 author/ illustrator book signings and sales.

Guest Speaker & Presenter Information

Claire Saxby


Claire Saxby writes award-winning fiction, non-fiction and poetry for children. Some of her books encompass all three. From extreme silliness in ‘There Was an Old Sailor’, to big historical stories with strong curriculum links like ‘My Name is Lizzie Flynn’, her picture books aim to engage, entertain and inform. Claire’s work is published in Australia and internationally.

Session 1

“What a Lot of Nonsense”

Suggested Audience:
Younger – 7 yrs and under

Life can be absurd. Let stories take you to the funny side, where you can make up anything you like. There may be singing. Based around Claire’s books for younger children, There Was an Old Sailor, Seadog and Wild Pa.

Session 2 & 3

“All Aboard a Convict Ship”


Suggested Audience:

Based around her historical picturebook, My Name is Lizzie Flynn, Claire will share the story behind the story. Discover how a chance discovery took her on a journey to early colonial Australia to ‘meet’ a young convict girl.

Gabrielle Wang

(Author/ Illustrator)

Gabrielle is an award-winning author and illustrator whose books are a blend of Chinese and Western culture with a touch of magic. She has twice won the Aurealis Award for Best Children’s Long Fiction.

Two of her works were Highly Commended in the Prime Minister’s Literary Awards and her first novel, The Garden of Empress Cassia was listed on the USBBY Outstanding International Books Honour List.

Gabrielle has written two of the very popular Our Australian Girl series, Poppy and Pearlie. Her latest middle grade novel, The Beast of Hushing Wood will be published in April.


Session 1

Where do ideas for stories come from and how to illustrate a novel?


Suggested Audience:
8-12 years

In the first half of the session Gabrielle will share and discuss where story ideas for her books come from with particular focus on her forthcoming novel, The Beast of Hushing Wood. She will also share how she goes about illustrating her novels. In the second part of the session students will enjoy an interactive illustration workshop of a Chinese mythical creature.

Glenda Millard


Sue Flockhart

Sue Flockhart


Author Glenda Millard
Glenda has published 26 books both nationally and internationally. These include Isabella’s Garden which was shortlisted for 6 awards in 2010, winning The Speech Therapist’s Award and Honour Book in the (CBCA) Picture Book of the Year. In 2013, Isabella’s Garden was listed by the United States Board on Books for Young people (USSBY) as an Outstanding International book. Glenda’s most recent book, a novel for young adults titled, The Stars at Oktober Bend will be published in February 2016. www.glendamillard.com

Publisher Sue Flockhart
Sue Flockhart is a Commissioning Editor at Allen & Unwin. For many years she has had the pleasure of working with authors and illustrators to create wonderful books for children. The process of developing story and pictures, through text drafts and rough layouts, is something she has found to be exciting and rewarding – and fun!

The picture-book makers Sue has worked with include Glenda Millard, Stephen Michael King, Anna Fienberg, Kim Gamble, Alison Lester, Elizabeth Honey, Margaret Wild, Andrew McLean and Judy Watson.

Session 1

So You Want to Write a Book.

Suggested Audience:
Teenager to Adult

An overview of the creative process and publication of books – in particular picturebooks – from the perspective of both the author and the publisher/editor.

Glenda Millard is the author of 25 award winning books and Sue Flockhart has worked in Publishing for the past 30 years.

Marc McBride

(Author/ Illustrator)

Author/Illustrator Marc McBride
Marc McBride has illustrated over 150 book covers and is famous for his cover illustrations for the Deltora Quest series written by Emily Rodda. His airbrush work of dragons is outstanding and his wit and infectious enthusiasm ensure his audiences are totally engaged. Marc is currently working on a new book he has both written and illustrated himself.


Session 1

The Land of Deltora

I will paint a Deltora dragon, using ideas from the students as I teach them about visual literacy. I will explain colour theory – how opposite colours can combine to give focus to a picture, and how fading colours can make objects recede.

Encouraging the students to use their imagination they will help with the painting- deciding on the character’s design, working out how to make a dragon look friendly or scary (it’s all in the eyes) and visualizing where the dragon lives- using light and shadow to create different moods.

Mark Wilson

(Author/ Illustrator)

Mark Wilson is one of our most successful and popular author/ illustrators of children’s books. His awards include two Wilderness Society Awards, two Whitley Awards and five CBCA Notable Picture Book awards.

His books include Beth the Story of a Child Convict, The Afghanistan Pup, Digger the Dog Who Went to War, The Horse Soldier, Journey of the Sea Turtle and The Last Tree.


Session 1

Drawing the easy way

Suggested Audience:

From bugs in the yard and turtles in the sea, there are simple steps to creating magnificent drawings and illustrations of the unique world around us.  Mark is a multiple award winning illustrator with 13 books in print worldwide. He will talk about his books and guide you through these easy steps as you explore drawing styles and techniques, and also show you how to develop and have confidence in your own unique style of drawing.

Illustrator: Ann James (OA)
& Ann Haddon (OA)
of ‘Books Illustrated’

Ann James is an award-winning illustrator who has illustrated over 60 books. She represents Australian illustrators on The Committee of Management of The Australian Society of Authors and regularly showcases Australian children’s books and illustration at the Bologna Book Fair and other major events across Australia. Some of the books she has illustrated include, I’m a Dirty Dinosaur, I’m a Hungry Dinosaur, The Penny Pollard series; the Hannah series; The Midnight Gang; Shutting the Chooks In; Little Humpty; The Way I Love You; Lucy Goosey; Sadie & Ratz and Chester and Gil.

Owner Books Illustrated: Ann Haddon

Ann was a teacher librarian in primary schools for 18 years – setting up the Junior School Library at Yarra Valley Grammar School before collaborating with Ann James to establish Books Illustrated in 1988. She is actively involved in children’s literature, including the Children’s Book Council of Australia, for many years being an executive member and President of the Victorian branch and Vice President of the National CBCA Executive in 2007 & 2008.


An Introduction to ‘Fine Focus-a life in art and illustration’ Rachel Tonkin.



Ann and Ann will give a brief introduction to the wonderful exhibition ‘Fine Focus- a life in art and illustration’ by the award winning Rachel Tonkin, which is currently on display in the Dromkeen Gallery. It is a beautiful retrospective showcasing Rachel’s amazing talent.

Brett Cardwell

(Cartoonist/ Illustrator)

Brett Cardwell from Cardytoons, is a popular and talented cartoonist, illustrator, animator and mural artist who regularly runs workshops at Dromkeen for budding cartoonists and animators of all ages.

He also works in primary schools all over Victoria and specializes in mural work and caricatures.


Session 1

You Can Cartoon Book Characters

Suggested Audience:

In this session Brett will teach the basics of creating characters for your stories. He will teach you how to cartoon faces and body parts to bring your characters alive.

Session 2

Animals and Action

Suggested Audience:

Learn how to cartoon a variety of animals and how to create movement in your characters and place them in a suitable background.

Chris Elkington

(Puppeteer/ Author)

Chris Elkington is a trained Primary School teacher, part time puppeteer and author. He has published 2 children’s books, “My Backyard ThemePark” and “My Backyard Circus”. He is back again at Dromkeen by popular demand with Calvin and his puppet friends.

Session 1

Calvin and his puppet friends 


Suggested Audience:

Kids will love this interactive game show hosted by Calvin and his puppet friends. Enjoy guessing famous children’s books and singing some fun songs along the way!

Donna Moulton


Donna has a background in early childhood education and has always had a passion to see children express themselves through art.

Donna is a mother of two and enjoys creating art of all kinds.

In the past, Donna has worked alongside the visual arts teacher and Artist in Residence at Donvale Primary school. Donna has been involved with creating several major projects around the school with the students including a giant mural spanning across three buildings in the Junior School area and a magnificent ‘Four Seasons’ Mosaic that is proudly displayed on the General Purpose building at the school. Donna was instrumental in making several art pieces with the students for the schools art show “Expressions 242”. Donna has also made art pieces with children in other organisations including church groups and preschools.

Donna is currently running art workshops and hosting art parties at Base Camp Kids.


Festival tickets allow access to all parts of the venue and session attendance is on a first-come basis.

Pre Book Online Through TryBooking & Save
Adult tickets purchased online are $20 per person
Children’s tickets 5 and over are $10 per child

All children 4 and under are free

Online bookings require full payment and tickets will be issued on completion of the booking.

Pay on the Day

Adult tickets at the gate are $25
Children’s tickets at the gate are $15

Purchasing Your Tickets

Bookings can be made online from Thursday, 14th January. Tickets must be printed and presented at the gate on the day of the festival.


Details of most sessions including workshops are available here to download.
Updates will be posted here closer to the date.

Any enquiries can be made at bernadette@dromkeen.com.au

Food & Drinks

Cash Sales Only

The Riddells Creek CFA will be holding a sausage sizzle in the rear carpark if it is not a Total Fire Ban Day. There will be cold drinks, coffee, muffins, biscuits and fresh fruit for sale on the day. Visitors are also able to bring their own lunch and to picnic on the lawns.



Many of the events on the day will be outdoors and so we encourage suitable outdoor attire including a hat for all visitors.

Disability Access

Both the homestead and the Garden Conference rooms have disability access. The disability access toilet is in the Garden Conference room at the back of the homestead.

Festival Bookshop

There will be stocks of books for sale by all the authors and illustrators presenting on the day of the festival. At the end of sessions, authors and illustrators will be available to sign their books.


Dromkeen would like to thank local resident and library technician Leanne Vandermeer for her amazing support and expertise in organising the festival.
We would also like to thank the Macedon Ranges Shire Council for their generous sponsorship of the festival and also the help of all the wonderful volunteers who made themselves available to run the day.