Varuna Writers House … a national treasure?

Varuna is Australia’s national residential writers’ house. And what a treasure of a place it is!

Varuna House, Katoomba

Not only is it in the  historic, former home of the famous Australian writers, Eleanor Dark and Dr Eric Dark, it’s situated in the beautiful mountain city of Katoomba in the Blue Mountains.

Over the years, Varuna has attracted and inspired new Australian writing and provided support for a thriving writing community.

Writers are able to enjoy “residential space with an extensive library, professional development opportunities and pathways to publication via selective programs and innovative partnerships”.

I count myself fortunate that, several years ago I ended up for a Creative Directors Masterclass week, under the direction of Peter Bishop, working on my manuscript. Peter was brilliant – his insightful comments and useful suggestions opened my eyes to the untapped possibilities of my little story.

Another excellent part for me was being in a writing house – no outside distractions (unless you wanted to walk into Katoomba to sample the delights of that beautiful town), no phones, no TV, just six guests writing away to their hearts’ content,  joining Peter and the other writers every day for drinks, nibbles and discussions about our works-in-progress, then sitting down for a delicious meal cooked by the fabulous Sheila Atkinson. Brilliant! 

One of Varuna’s programs this year is the WRITER-A-DAY PROJECT, funded by the Australia Council.

“As part of our 20th anniversary celebration, we have received funding from the Australia Council to produce a Writer-a-Day “app” which will operate on iPhones, iPads, Android phones and computers. It will be available via Varuna and the iTunes store in early 2012.

The “app” will provide the opportunity to listen to a recording of a different Varuna writer every day of the year. It will be as if 365 different Australian writers will have personally made contact with you to share their work.

To appropriate the slogans of the Sydney Writers’ Festival and TED talks, we see this “app” as providing “words to live by” and “ideas worth spreading”.

Because the “app” will receive international exposure we are hoping that it will act as a “stylefile” and increase audiences and publication possibilities for your work. We see the “app” as an intimate and personal way of connecting Australia’s writing community and connecting readers to writers on a more personal level.

Here is my contribution to the App. – a reading from my junior novel, FANGUS FEARBOTTOM. Since the reading, I’ve completed the story and will soon submit it to publishers. Hope you enjoy the first 2.5 minutes of the story. 

Many of Varuna’s ‘clientele’ become members of the ALUMNI and we’re pleased and proud to support the endeavours of the House and its organisers.



6 thoughts on “Varuna Writers House … a national treasure?

  1. Hi John, I’ve been away on holidays, then got sick.
    But back on board now, and a post coming up as part of a blog tour for author, Tania McCartney on her new book with the National Library of Australia, Australian Story. It’ll be all about the teaching notes one can use with younger kids. Then after that, I’ll focus on another subject in writing (or something that might take my fancy. 🙂
    best wishes
    and very glad that you drop in every now and then.


  2. Angela, I can’t wait to show you more of Fangus Fearbottom too! 🙂 The Varuna House Project is a fabulous idea – hope they get enough people to make the App finally.


  3. Congratulations, Sheryl on your inclusion in the Varuna Writer-a-Day Project! What a wonderful opportunity and so richly deserved. I really enjoyed the reading and am keen to find out more about the other laws of the Vampyre Reformation and whether Fangus will try to break them… and why. What a great beginning!


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