Bendigo Writers Festival won hearts and minds across the weekend, attracting double the anticipated audiences.
The booked-out school's day on Friday was followed by the opening Keynote address by David Marr, which packed out The Capital Theatre.
More than 1700 tickets were sold, with festival-goers attending events not just in the big Capital Theatre but also in small venues in the View Street precinct.
The early estimate of total attendance is more than 4000.
Visiting publisher John Hunter called the first event "a wonderful start".
"We all know how hard it is to get these things going from scratch and I think you've done an extraordinary job," he said
"It was a fantastic event," crime writer Andrew Grimes said, "I can't remember the last time I enjoyed myself so much."
And from the audience came comments such as ""Another score on the calendar for Bendigo and great to have an all-Australian cast."
Festival chairman Rod Fyffe said City of Greater Bendigo council is keen to build on the success.
"This was better than we had hoped for, a magnificent result," Cr Fyffe said.
"Thanks to everyone for a brilliant effort."