NT Writers’ Festival 2019

The heat has lifted and the desert mornings are crisp and clear. In two weeks time, Storytellers and writers from across the country will gather from the 16-19th May for the 2019 NT Writers’ Festival – Alice Springs under the theme lyapirtneme | returning.

Home to the Arrernte people, Alice Springs / Mparntwe is set against the breathtaking backdrop of the McDonnell Ranges, that carry the stories of giant caterpillar totemic ancestors, a daily reminder that this is a storied landscape.

In Arrernte, lyapirtneme translates as something growing back or appearing again, after an absence. This can only happen when the roots are still alive, when seeds lie dormant. In the same vein, the English returning speaks of regeneration, renewal, and repatriation. It might also make us think about going back to places, to the past, or something coming back to us. Both languages speak of cycles and patterns; both reckon with loss, and reference hope. 

Writers and storytellers whose work illuminates the theme will converge for four days of ideas, culture, conversation, ‘storied walks’, book launches, talks and more. Check out the full program here, or click here for individual events and tickets. See the full line up of festival authors here.

We are sorry to announce that, due to unforeseen circumstances, Merlinda Bobis will no longer be appearing at the festival. Please see her individual events for updates to her sessions.

For all program updates, like our new festival Facebook page or follow us on twitter and use #ntwf2019 to share your photos and posts!



Each year, the Festival alternates between Darwin and Alice Springs. With a thousand miles between locations, the festival shifts from the tropics to the desert, from wet to dry, from coastal to inland, from Larrakia to Arrernte country, creating a contrasting character between festivals which reflects the diversity – environmental, cultural and social – of the Northern Territory itself.

Here are some comments from past festival guests of the NT Writer’s Festival:

There are few writers’ festivals in Australia that I would argue are unique – that mould into the landscape and cannot exist anywhere else – but this is the exact nature of the NT Writers’ Festival.

By far one of the greatest festivals I have ever attended as both a writer and punter…such a range of voices, stories and contributors – a true reflection of the literary and creative community in Australia.

I have been to quite a few writers’ festivals, but this one made the deepest impression by far.