IN A short space of time the Bendigo Writer's Festival has established a big reputation.
The festival began in 2012 and has grown so much that this year more than 100 writers will participate in more than 50 sessions.
This year's festival will be launched today and after the success of the first two festivals, there is a strong base to make the festival even better.
"When we started it, we thought we would have a go and see how it went," the festival's artistic director Rosemary Sorensen said.
"It is very clear we have one of best cities to host something like this. It's gorgeous.
"The way it has become part of national (writing festival) agenda, we had no idea."
One of the main highlights of the festival will be a Saturday evening session with internationally-acclaimed poet Les Murray.
In a career spanning more than 40 years, Mr Murray has published almost 30 volumes of poetry.
"It will be a wonderful moment to have Les in Bendigo," Ms Sorensen said.
"He has really reached the very top of his profession, is internationally acclaimed and is still very generous with his time.
"We are excited to have him coming to Bendigo. Some of his life stories are amazing as is his knowledge, warmth and generosity that we know he has."
As well as Murray, Blanche d'Alpuget will be a popular speaker. A novelist as well as her husband's (Bob Hawke) biographer, Ms d'Alpiget will speak at the opening session.
Central Victoria will also have strong representation with Redesdale writer Robert Kenny speaking on his book and Castlemaine poet Terry Jaensch planning a session.
There will also be three book launches be central Victorian authors.
"Robert lost his house in the Redesdale fire and wrote an amazing book about it," Ms Sorensen said.
"Terry will be mixing it up with other poets and it is great to see local authors doing very well."
Crime writer Michael Robotham will launch his new novel at the festival, Castlemaine philosopher and author Raimond Gaita and novelist Alex Miller will discuss the changes in Australian society and ABC's Natasha Mitchell will host a science-based session.
Children's author Jackie French and illustrator Bruce Whatley will also attend to celebrate their collaboration.
Other writers heading to Bendigo include Garry Disher, Kerry Greenwood, Robert Kenny, Patricia and Don Edgar, Clare Wright, Mandy Sayer and Neil Chenoweth.
The Bendigo Writers Festival is on August 8, 9 and 10. For more information visit www.bendigowritersfestival.com.au
It is very clear we have one of best cities to host something like this.Rosemary Sorensen