Where have all the natcons gone?

For those who might remember, last year’s (2011) SwanCon was touted as NatCon 50, implying to the literal minded, that there have been a preceeding 49 NatCons. A little lazy wandering around the web finds insufficient information about these. Yes, wikipedia does list those from 1999 onwards (included below, lifted wholesale). But our very own Australian SF wiki?

If we try the obvious—http://wiki.sf.org.au/Natcon—what we find is a very useful page about the legalities and logistics of running a NatCon, but nothing useful about the history of such. Similarly, looking at the NatCon category— http://wiki.sf.org.au/Category:Natcon—we can find several highly exciting Natcon business meeting minutes (and the occasional agenda), two versions of the Ditmar rules and some assorted other administrative pages (total 21 links). These are all highly valuable records, but don’t actually get us back past 2001.

Another valuable find—http://sf.org.au/natconcom/— is “the website of the standing committee of the business meeting of the Australian Science Fiction Convention”. But still, doesn’t get us back to those early NatCons.

The NatCon50 people helpfully tell us that Perth has already hosted 9 (count them, 9!) Natcons, making NatCon50 the tenth to grace the Western shores. Four of them are listed in the table below, being 2000, 2001, 2003 and 2008. When were the other five? If we check the SwanCon History wiki page, we find that 1980, being SwanCon 5, was the 19th Natcon, then 1986 (SwanCon 11) also being listed as a NatCon, which leaves us rather short of the  claimed 9. What is missing? [Hint: if you know any answers to these questions, putting them on the wiki would be good!]

One thing we should remember – that prior to the late ’90s, when the Media and Lit NatCons were combined, there was not a single NatCon. Whether the NatCon50 people are counting from the first of the earliest of these to start, or specifically for one or other of these, no indication is given.

Table below sourced from wikipedia.

No Date Name Location Guests of Honour
September 1999 Spawncon II (part of Aussiecon III, the 57th Worldcon) Melbourne (none)
April 2000 Swancon 25 Perth Connie Willis and Ian Nichols.
40 April 2001 Swancon 2001, Masquerade Perth Robert Silverberg, Karen Haber, Rosaleen Love, Marilyn Pride, Lewis Morley, Kate Orman, and Sue Ackerman
41 7-10 June 2002 Convergence Melbourne Joe & Gay Haldeman, Lucy Sussex, Sean Williams, and (fan) Race Mathews
42 April 2003 Swancon 2003 Perth Lynn Flewelling, Tony Shillitoe, Fiona McIntosh, and (fan) Justin Ackroyd
43 April 2004 Conflux Canberra Greg Benford, Sean McMullen, and (fan) Karen Herkes
44 June 2005 Thylacon III Hobart Anne Bishop, Marianne de Pierres, and (fan) Merv Binns
45 April 2006 Conjure Brisbane Bruce Sterling, Cory Doctorow, Sean Willaims, Kim Wilkins, and (fan) Erica Lacey
46 8–11 June 2007 Convergence 2 Melbourne Isobelle Carmody, Fred Gallagher, Dave Freer, and (fan) Cath Ortlieb
47 20–24 March 2008 Swancon 33 Perth Ken Macleod, Rob Shearman, Glenda Larke, and (fan) Zara Baxter
48 5–8 June 2009 Conjecture Adelaide Julie E. Czerneda, and (fans) Steve & Catherine Scholz
49 2–6 September 2010 Dudcon III (part of Aussiecon IV, the 68th Worldcon) Melbourne Peter Watts, Helen Merrick, and (fan) Jacob Blake
50 21–25 April 2011 Swancon Thirty Six Natcon Fifty Perth Ellen Datlow, Justina Robson, Sean Williams, and (fan) Sarah Xu


  1. Looking back at the page, I find that this is indeed the case. Checking through the edit history, I find that Thomas Bull, on the 5th of April, added a whole heap of additional information, bringing in all the information that was required. It would appear that having this post in the ‘pending’ queue for a while caught up with us, and reality changed prior to publication!

  2. It use to be that each the programme book for each national convention would include a list of all the previous national conventions. I imagine that at some point after I stopped going to conventions natcons dropped the practise. For what it’s worth I have programme books for most of the first twenty natcons in my collection.

    1. Hi Kim

      I would love to get a look at those, or at least at scans of the natcon listings. Are either of these possible?

      There may well be some of programme books hidden in the Teetering Mound of WASFF Archive (ie. the current archive system is a pile of boxes in my lounge), but it will take us a while to get through the top layer to find out what else is in there.


  3. There’s a very detailed list of Australian Natcons in the convention book for the third Australian Worldcon (Aussiecon Three). It even lists the Media Natcons.

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