#Junket Day One: Two Hundred People, One Hundred Pitches, And A Whole Lot Of Party

Junkee's first unconference just finished in Canberra. Here's what's happened on the first day.

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Bagpipes. Today started with bagpipes. At 7am. The morning after a party with an apparently endless free bar.

The good vibes that had been dominating the #junket hashtag turned negative fairly quickly.

At this stage it is unclear whether the loud surprise was organised by the Junket team or the QT Canberra; in the face of indignation from most of the delegates (including this writer), neither parties will claim responsibility. Perhaps it was this guy.

Junkee’s inaugural youth unconference, Junket, has brought 200 of Australia’s most horrifically enviable young brains to Canberra for three days, for a series of unstructured open discussions about the country’s future. We have actors, writers, scientists, activists, dance instructors, farmers, journalists, advertisers, coders, gamers, educators, environmentalists, and professional sports stars; we have people from all over the country, and from a huge range of cultures, religions and sexual/gender/health identities. We spent ages picking them. I think we did quite well.

The over-riding goal is to bring together likeminded folk with different experiences and from different backgrounds, so they can help each other start conversations — and make good ideas even better — through a series of open sessions.

The delegates started rolling into QT Canberra at around 2pm on Sunday, and were checked in and greeted by this guy:


Photo by Josh Sellick.

Despite that rude shock, the waves of positivity emanating from the lobby would have shaken even the most cynical cynic. The delegates met, ate each others’ minds, and batted around the ideas they wanted to form the next day’s agenda. By 4pm, the schedule started filling up with pitches; and at 5.30pm, we squeezed into the main room to give everyone who wanted to discuss an idea 60 seconds to sell it.

It looked a little something like this:

We’d gleaned a bit of insight into the types of issues that would elbow their way onto the agenda during the submissions process, but last night there was over 100 pitches — which was 50 more than we anticipated.

This meant that even after we jammed as many sessions together as possible, we had to add a whole other space.


Guess which stream was the last-minute addition.

As that whole mess was being arranged by our curator Jess Scully and her programming committee, the #junket hashtag quickly turned to #drunket in the restaurant.

The party kicked off upstairs with an incredible performance by spoken word poet Omar Musa, who managed to tick off pretty much every agenda topic with one piece. After that it was Lee Crockford’s Fuck-Up Club, where delegates were asked to share stories of their biggest mistakes — a refreshing change from the achievement overload that had been kind of overwhelming.


Today is the main day of Junket: 55 sessions across eleven spaces, and we have no idea how they’ll go. We’ve got a big team of writers who’ll be documenting it though — so stay tuned for a few more updates.

Junket takes place at the QT Canberra on November 1-3.

Visit the Junket website here.

Feature image by Daniel Boud.