The small and picturesque village of St Albans lies at the heart of the Macdonald Valley and is known to locals as the Forgotten Valley. The area was home to the Dharug and Darkinjung people. Settled in the early 1800s by Europeans from the First Fleet, the area was later overlooked as Sydney started to sprawl northwards and westwards. Sandstone cliffs, lands teeming with native vegetation and wildlife, winding rivers and fertile paddocks are home to descendants of First Fleet settlers, as well as farmers, artists, writers, tree-changers and city dwellers who escape from Sydney to renew themselves in this ancient and magical place.
Stay for the weekend in the many bed and breakfast venues and weekend rental properties in and around St Albans and in Wisemans Ferry to make the best of the Festival and to discover the Forgotten Valley. Check out the accommodation links below.
A few quirks of St Albans
Coming from Sydney, you will have to cross the Hawkesbury by (free) 24 hour-a-day car ferry.
There is no wi-fi or mobile phone service in St Albans village (it stops once you cross the Hawkesbury). There are no service stations in the village so fill up at Wisemans Ferry.
There are no ATMs in the village (the nearest is Wisemans Ferry), so cash up before you arrive! With no internet service, we can’t link to credit card services so cash is the way to go, to buy books at Berkelouws, delicious food at Simmone Logue, a bottle of wine from the Festival wine bar or a beer and food from the historic Settlers Arms Inn.
To get to St Albans from Sydney, go to Wisemans Ferry and take one of the free 24 hour-a-day ferries across the Hawkesbury River, then drive on to St Albans village. There are roads either side of the Macdonald River: St Albans Road on the west (reached by the Webbs Creek ferry just on the left as you enter Wisemans Ferry) and Settlers Road on the east (reached by Wisemans Ferry itself at the other end of the village). Note that Settlers Road has an unsealed section but a four-wheel drive is not necessary. If you are coming to St Albans from the north, you can head for Wisemans Ferry or reach St Albans by Wollombi Road. The village is tiny, so it’s easy to walk from venue to venue. Park your car and walk between the four venues for all the festival events (see VENUES below). NOTE: If you are using SatNav we recommend you program it to head for Wisemans Ferry (and then follow the instructions above) as these devices tend to avoid ferries, and can send you on a very long and arduous route to avoid them!
St Albans Reserve
This is the hub for the weekend. Pick up your coloured wrist band and printed tickets at the festival registration marquee, get information, buy books and attend book signings in the Berkelouw’s marquee. This is where you hang out with locals, visitors and writers over a coffee and goodies or a glass of wine! There will be stalls of local produce, craft and plants.
St Albans Church,
Situated at the top of Wharf Street on one of the highest sites in the village (it’s a bit of a steep walk so be prepared!) the Church of Saint Alban the Martyr is the only local church still in use. A timber chapel, opened in 1843, was replaced thirty years later by the current stone building made of local sandstone.
Settlers Arms Marquees (‘Gabrielle’ & ‘Ian’)
We have pitched two large marquees in the best pub garden in NSW to create more venues for our writers’ talks. The Settlers Arms is a local institution and the garden, according to the Good Food Guide, is a “seriously beautiful place to sit and drink the house beer”.
School of the Arts Hall
Upper Macdonald Road
Built by local residents in 1936 and lovingly cared for by the St Albans’ community, the School of the Arts Hall is one of few remaining charming community buildings of this type. The simple corrugated iron exterior, reminiscent of our colonial heritage, gives way to a large interior space. It is a short stroll over the historic bridge across the Macdonald River from Festival Hub. There are steps or a steep drive to access the Hall.
Parking is available all around St. Albans village. If your need assistance or a disabled parking spot please contact us before the festival. Parking will be available on a first come first served basis.
Although St Albans is only two hours from Sydney, we recommend you make the best of the Festival by staying the night. That way you can enjoy everything that the Festival and St Albans has to offer. There is an abundance of options for accommodation – from bed and breakfast to some beautiful camping spots. Some venues below offer camping on their land, and there are limited camping sites in St Albans village itself. Keep in mind that some of our suggestions are closer to the Festival than others. The right hand column below lists places that are a little further afield.
(02) 4566 4330
(We will be running a regular shuttle bus from Del Rio over the weekend.)
0417 232 801
(02) 4568 2037
(02) 4568 2036
(02) 4568 2042
(02) 4568 2111
0418 293 732
(02) 4568 2294
(02) 4566 4366
(02) 45 66 44 22
0411 765 160
(02) 4566 4357
(02) 4587 9050
0417 694 800
(02) 4566 4308
(02) 4566 4212
Accommodation & Camping
(02) 4566 4280
Accommodation & Camping
(02) 4566 4208
(02) 4575 5223
(02) 4579 1150
0438 055 613
0438 055 613
0416 039 081
(02) 4998 3257
The St Albans Writers’ Festival is an incorporated not-for-profit organisation run by volunteers who love St Albans and spend as much time there as they can.
Myra is a dynamo who has run her own company in IT and now works in accounting, as well as developing an organic farm including Fox and Hound Homestays in St Albans. She has been a prime mover in creating the Valley Exchange Group set up as a social and practical hub for valley residents to engage in local activities that meet their day-to-day needs. She played a key role in organising the St Albans Book Feast in 2013 which led to the creation of the St Albans Writers’ Festival.
Originally from Vancouver, Colleen emigrated to Australia in 1986 after a peripatetic life living and working in many different countries around the globe. She has worked in radio for the CBC and the BBC and found time to study horticulture and obtain a certificate in bush regeneration. A ‘weekender’ in St.Albans since 2000, Colleen made the valley her permanent home in 2013. Her interests include reading, gardening, and when she has time (which is not often) she gets out the needle and thread for a spot of quilting. Colleen is passionate about the environment and animal welfare and, living off the grid and powered by solar on her small farm, she has a minuscule environmental footprint.
Jonathan is a polymath graphic designer, one-time theatre set and costume designer and design manager who moved to Australia in 1996 where he became head of image and design for the Sydney 2000 Olympic and Paralympic Games. He is now joint director at Coast Design in Bondi Beach and has lectured in Design Management at the College of Fine Arts (UNSW). An excellent cook, a greedy reader, an art lover who has also exhibited work at Sculpture by the Sea, Jonathan has a passion for books and writing (…and model-making! He built the models on this website). Patrick Curda (Jonathan’s business partner) was integral to the development of the festival identity and website.
Catherine’s background is in teaching, training, educational publishing and translation from French (her native language) into English. She has lived and worked in the UK, France, Africa and Australia.
She has also developed a practice as a perfume consultant, scent stylist, speaker, writer and blogger on perfume and the sense of smell (Scent of Choice), speaking on everything from the history of perfume to historical scents and stinks in the works of Jane Austen and Charles Dickens. She has created and runs the Sydney Perfume Lovers MeetUp group. An omnivorous reader, she devours everything from genre fiction to philosophy and her idea of hell is a place with no books.
The extended committee making us an incorporated organisation includes Kaye Remington, Siobhan Mahoney and Tony Simpson.
Our festival publicist is Benython Oldfield, Zeitgeist Media Group.
Our hardworking interns, doing lots of odd jobs – creative, digital and manual – help to keep us all sane.
Rebecca Allen is a junior editor at Allen & Unwin, Australia’s leading independent publisher. She completed her Honours degree in French language and literature while also editing Hermes, the University of Sydney Student Union’s literary journal. She has volunteered for Contrappasso Magazine, a journal for international writing, and has contributed book reviews to Mascara Literary Review. This is her second year an an intern with the St Albans’ Writers Festival.
A returning member of the intern team, Jem is an avid consumer of music and literature. An undergraduate audio engineering student, he may also be found tucked behind a mixing board, a tangle of wires, or a guitar.
Maddi is in her final year of a double BA in Communication (Writing and Cultural Studies) and International Studies at UTS. Her interest in the power of language and the written word have led to research projects on the social impact of the creative industries and the political importance of a thriving cultural sector, and have taken her to universities in France and Japan. Alongside her studies she has worked in bookshops, film, theatre, teaching, cultural event coordination and research assistance in francophone literary criticism.
1515 St Albans Road, Central Macdonald, NSW 2775
0419 732 033
0412 517 885
0403 923 602