Winner’s examples 2022

“They got it too easy these days” by Andrew Ball

GPS knows best by Eleni Chapman

Otter shark by Clem Chapman

Gecko location by Aaron Winslow

Telescopic lens by Jude Aquilina

The Ruins by Neil Mumford

A Country Fair by Gabriella Guo

The Black Raven by Victor Hou

“They got it too easy these days”

Andrew Ball

Winner adult prose

The Mulga dotted plains shimmered to a hazy grey-green horizon, the continuity broken only here and there by rugged flat topped mesas, standing defiant against nature, and the meanderings of occasional dry sandy creek beds, their courses etched by giant and ancient river red gums. Sparsely scattered grooves of sombre desert oaks stood dark sentinel at intervals along the highway, a threadlike ribbon on the map that strung together place names, names that were not towns, not even small villages, just places.

It was at one of these frontier outposts that I pulled up around mid-afternoon on a baking summers’ day, got out, stretched and unlimbered and made a vain attempt to wave away the flies. Swirls of dust from the parched wind wisped along the ground ahead of me as I made my way towards the weathered roadhouse for refreshment.

The saloon was spacious, noisy, weekend crowded with station hands, highway and railways workers and a smattering of tourists. I weaved through the throng to the bar where an elderly gentleman shifted awkwardly on his stool and motioned for mw to join him.

I nodded and ordered myself a drink as he turned slowly and fixed me with a steely gaze, a cigarette tissue clinging to his lower lip while he rubbed tobacco between the palms of his calloused hands.

“How yer going, mate?” he drawled, although the question was largely rhetorical.

He rolled his smokie with obvious care, then fumbled for a lighter from his shirt pocket, flipped the top then studied the flame awhile, lit up  and inhaled deeply, exhaled thoughtfully and adjusted the brim of a battered, stained and very lived in hat that seemed almost a part of him.

“See that track out there,” he intoned and nodded toward the roadtrain parked out on the flat, three doubledeck trailers of cattle, restless, fidgeting and stomping, angry at their deprivation of freedom, while the prime mover idled away, gleaming paint and steel and chrome, shining like Saturday night.

“They got it too easy these days. I’ll bet he’s got that engine running just to keep the cabin  cool! You know, I worked with cattle for fifty years, but we did it with horses, not horsepower!” and here he paused for another draw and swig of his beer before carrying on defiantly.

“That bloke, you know, I’ll bet me goddamned swag he’s never even rode a bloody horse! And talk of swags, I bet he hasn’t got a swag, take a gander at that honeymoon suite behind the cab, that’d  be air-conned too, and a TV and DVD or whatever you call them things. And have a Captain Cook at them aerials, like a bloody porkypine, CB and CD and sat phone or whatever. You know we used ter leave home, Dicky Green and me and a coupla others and you wouldn’t see us, that would be for maybe six months or more, none o’ this ringing up home every night.”

The ceiling fans whirled in unison as he took another swallow of his drink, adjusted his position on the stool and with an expansive gesture of a tanned and sinewy forearm, he carried on.

“I’ve drove up the Murranjai through that lancewood scrub, hell, I lost count of the times, and across the Barkly, spinifex knee high and more, and down The Birdsville, in the steps of Starlight, no aircondition there! The Canning stock route too, we burned horse and cow and camel dung so’s we could keep warm and cook a bloody meal!”

“I’ve suffered falls from horses and dealt with spooky cattle stampeding in the night and, worst of all, mate, I’ve suffered drovers cooks! Ha! Here, I’ll bet you London to a brick this bloke never had to cook! Steak and eggs and chips for him, all up and down the track, paid for by the company.”

Here he finally paused and eyed his smoke, now burned down to the nearest stub pinched between a nicotine stained finger and thumb. He squeezed the glowing ember to distinction with some deliberation and dropped it into the ashtray then slowly finished off his beer.

“Pardon me a tick,” he said and lowered himself with some difficulty from his stool and started towards the men’s at the far end of the barroom. He ambled with the bandy gait of a horseman, one who has spent a lifetime in the saddle.

His progression was unhurried between the tables, pausing now and again to say goodday to someone he knew, or maybe didn’t, a figure in faded cowboy shirt and moleskins representing the passing of the years, the round eternal of this earthly cycle, a changing of the guard, a handing over of the baton to a brash new breed with little interest in the past, history was a bore.

“Are you right, love?” the young girl behind the bar inquired, looking up from  busily and noisily washing glasses, smiling and blonde, bangles and ring s, gold pendant dangling close to an  enigmatic tattoo. She spoke with the hint of an accent.

“Um, yeah, well, I’ll have another coke to take away and can you take for a beer for the old bloke when he comes back. Thanks.”

I stepped outside and the heat hit me like a breath from an oven after the cool of the bar and the flies massed in a frantic swarm as I strolled over to the roadtrain.

I climbed to the top of each deck to check on the cattle. They seemed to have settled down a bit, the heat maybe making them lethargic. The flies were driving me crazy, in my eyes and ears and nose, behind my sun glasses and in my mouth if they could, a determined and unrelenting onslaught.

I scrambled back down to ground level, grabbed the chrome handrail of the prime mover cabin and hauled myself up the steps, the engine still rumbling away slowly and patiently as heavy diesels do, faithful steel machine awaiting its master.

With arms flailing, I swished away the flies as best I could, wrenched open the drivers’ door and slammed it rapidly shut.

The air ride seat hissed a quiet sigh as I settled in behind the wheel.

 It was nice and cool in there.


Elini Chapman

Winner Primary Prose 11-12

“We’re going on a road trip!” Dad announced to us in the living room one day. No-one really listened. We had attempted a road trip on one of Dad’s whims four summers ago and had ended up in Geraldton instead of Albany, due to Dad’s non-existent ability to read a map.

“Dad, maybe we could use my phone for directions?” Alice had suggested after we passed the third sign pointing us towards Lancelin.

“No, no,” said Dad firmly. “All this new technology can’t be relied on. If we’re going to get somewhere, we’ll do it the old-fashioned way and use a street directory!”

“What’s a street directory?” Billy had piped up from the back. He was only four, but Dad had gasped in horror.

“See? The children of today’s generation have no idea how to do things properly!” Dad huffed. He had continued lecturing us about unnecessary technologies until we hit … Geraldton.

From my siblings’ faces, I could tell we were all remembering this last road trip, and we did not want a repeat of it. Dad must have seen our expressions, because he hastily added, “And this time, I have decided to invest in a very valuable tool: a GPS!” Oh dear. That meant he was serious about this road trip thing.

“Where are we going?” Billy asked cautiously. Dad smiled.

“To Albany, to see Granny and Grandpa.”

“Do you mean the actual Albany or Geraldton-Albany?”

“Albany, of course!” Dad snapped. “It was an honest mistake anyone could have made. Now, pack your bags.” We all looked at each other in dismay.

“Come on!” said Dad impatiently. “We leave tomorrow!”

The next morning, we all piled grim-faced into the car. I noticed Alice slipped her phone into her bag when Dad wasn’t there to lecture her about the dangers of technology corrupting us. I didn’t blame her: I knew we would need it at some point.

We were almost ready to hit the road when Dad jumped out and ran inside. He came back waving a small black screen.

“I almost forgot the GPS!” he said, grinning. Billy and I exchanged a look. For someone who was always claiming how dangerous technology was, Dad seemed awfully excited about it.

The GPS was a second-hand piece of junk Dad had found in an op-shop. The screen wasn’t even a proper touchscreen: it was all weird and shiny and you had to press so hard your knuckles cracked if you wanted it to register your touch. Dad got annoyed the screen wasn’t working and used voice command to search for Granny’s address instead.

Finally, the torture was over. We pulled out of the driveway and in a few minutes, we were on the main street. As we approached the exit lane, the GPS spoke up.

“In 200 metres, take the second exit onto Tonkin Highway.”

“Okay!” Dad replied cheerily. He turned the car and we drove down the exit lane and onto the freeway. Heading in the wrong direction.

“Um … Dad?” Alice said. “I think we might be going in the wrong direction. Albany is down south!”

“Nonsense!” scoffed Dad. “The GPS says we should be heading this way. If it didn’t work, the shop wouldn’t be selling it!”

“That’s probably why it was in an op-shop!” Billy grumbled. Despite Alice’s constant attempts to convince Dad of the correct route, we kept travelling north. Until we reached Ellenbrook.

“Dad, I really think you should use my phone instead,” Alice pleaded.

“Why would I need to use your silly gadget?

“Dad!” yelled Alice, losing her patience now. “We are nowhere near Albany! We are in Ellenbrook! There is a sign over there that says Ellenbrook!”

“In 300 metres, turn right,” the GPS announced.

“Okay!” said Dad.

“NO!” we all yelled.

“I hate this trip!” said Billy. “All we’ve done is drive to Ellenbrook!”

“You have reached your destination,” the GPS said.

“We have not!”

“Kids, stop fighting with the GPS!” Dad called. “It said we have arrived at our destination, so we must have. Now, everyone out of the car and help bring the stuff into Granny’s house.”

I wanted to curl into a ball and sink into the ground as Dad banged on the door of a random house on the street. A bemused woman stared at him as he nattered on about how fast the cousins were growing.

“We don’t know him!” Alice yelled to the lady.

“Re-routing,” announced the GPS. “In 600 metres, turn right and continue for 3 kilometres. Then you will have arrived at your destination: Warm Honey.”

“What?” I said, confused.

“Oh noooooooooooo!!!!!!!” groaned Alice. “You know how dodgy these things are! It must have thought Dad said ‘warm honey’ instead of ‘Albany’!” Sure enough, the arrow was pointing to a local honey shop.

Otter shark

Clem Chapman

Winner Primary Pose 9-10

There’s a shark in our swimming pool. I’m standing on the rim of the pool staring at the shark. My little sister is running around singing the Baby Shark song. But this is no baby. It’s a full-grown adult. I need to get Mum.

“MU-UM!!” I shout. A head appears at the window.

 “What is it?”

“There’s a shark in our swimming pool,” I reply.

 “James…” says Mum. “Last time you told me there was an otter in the toilet you charged the door handle with 10 volts and closed the door. I’m not falling for that again!”

I give up. I’m going to do it myself. The shark is pretty small. Only a smallish lemon shark. Then I remember the old bathtub out the back. I could put the shark in the bathtub and take it down to the river. The only problem is getting it in the bath. I find myself clamping the shark’s face with my nana’s old dog’s Elizabethan collar. I pick up the shark. It’s pretty heavy but I can carry it. I start into the lounge room where Mum is reading the newspaper.

“You’d better not be running around in my house with a shark!” Mum shouts. I don’t want to lie but it’s now or never.

“Nope, otter!” I reply and scurry away before she has a chance to turn around.

I fly out the back door and shove the shark in the old bathtub. Mission accomplished! Now I just need to get it to the river somehow.

An idea strikes me. I could load it onto my skateboard and roll it down to the river. I use a lever made from a gigantic rock and a metal bar to heave the bathtub up onto the skateboard. The skateboard smashes under the immense weight of the bathtub. Failed attempt one!

I heave the bathtub off the crushed skateboard. I need a new idea.

I grab my nana’s old dog’s leash and clip the leash to the shark’s spiracle. The leash is rough and the shark struggles against the stiff leather. I pull the shark out of the bath and drop it on one of our two slip and slides then put the other one in front of it.

I plug the garden hose into the slip and slide water inlet and twist the tap until water flows onto the slip and slide. The shark must think it’s Sea World.  

I drag the shark to where both slip and slides meet then pull the back one to the front and start again.

I’m halfway to the river when both slip and slides burst. I run back home with the shark to find another idea.

My dad works for a production company, making all kinds of inventions to use in movies. He has a giant catapult. I could use that to catapult the shark to the river!

I place the shark on the bucket of the catapult, and cut the rope. It sails through the air before landing in my neighbour’s pool. My neighbour, Jing Jing, comes out. She looks at the shark and shouts, “Da-ad! There’s a shark in our swimming pool!”

Gecko Location

Aaron Winslow

Winner Junior Primary Prose

The sun shone fiercely through Lucas’ window.  “I wonder how Marcus slept” Lucas thought.  It was such a lovely surprise to receive his pet gecko, named Marcus,  three weeks earlier for this 10th birthday.  He zoomed down the stairs to see Marcus.  He looked cute and calm in his tall clear tank that had been carefully filled with scraggly rocks, forest green leaves and chocolate brown twigs.

After breakfast, Lucas meticulously cleaned Marcus’ tank.  Mum called out to Lucas, “When you have finished cleaning, you can play soccer in the backyard.  I’ll be working on my presentation.”  Lucas heard the birds chirping happily.  He gazed into the garden.  The clear blue sky, glossy green leaves and elegant, dainty flowers looked so magical.

“Perfect for soccer!” Lucas said.  He grabbed his soccer ball and ran out, forgetting to close the lid on Marcus’ tank.  He had a spectacular time playing soccer.  “I really need a drink,” he said and came in for a cool popper. He turned around to wave at Marcus but he was nowhere to be seen. 

“Mum!” yelled Lucas.  “I can’t find Marcus.”  Mum came out to see what all the commotion was. Lucas was so upset.  “Don’t worry. We’ll both look for him.  He can’t have gone far.  It’s a pity Dad’s not here to help us too,” said Mum.

They searched high and low, in every nook and cranny they could think of.  But Marcus was nowhere to be seen.  “Look at the time!” Mum exclaimed.  “I’m going to be late for my zoom presentation.  We’ll have to do this later.” 

Lucas desperately kept on looking.

Mum rushed into the study.  She quickly turned on the laptop.  “Hello everybody, sorry I’m a little late.”  She started her beautiful presentation.  “What’s that?” someone gasped on the call.  Mum spun around and screamed.  Marcus, the gecko, was on her favourite bookshelf!  Mum was so startled she fell off her scarlet red chair! What a disaster! Then she sat up and finished off her presentation.  Everybody clapped loudly.  Then they roared with laughter.

“That was the most memorable presentation we have ever watched!” cheered everyone.  Lucas ran to the study and was so relieved to see Marcus, his favourite pet gecko. 

Telescopic lens

Jude Aquilina

Winner Open Poetry
What is it to see the royal spoonbill
sweeping the lake with its black ladle
sun -sequined ripples skirting its whiteness
and a fringe of reeds singing as if the wind’s lips
whispered a message?

Memories like sun-showers washing over me
Out of nowhere. The floating frog song caught
Like a leaf in the web of time...

returning me to the quiver of willows as I waded out
holding its fronds so as not to fall.
You, Mother, on the banks of the Murray River,
Floral shawl over pale shoulders, warning of snags.

Me on the slow chase of ducklings
counting their small thistle-down backs
as they disappeared through sedge curtains.

Perhaps memory is like a camera
difficult to focus, with only a small aperture
but o how clear the glistening, distant scene

of you, shrunken in the lens of our day at Mannum,
your white legs on a striped towel
and me, a girl in a shirred swimsuit counting ducklings.

The ruins

Neil Mumford

Winner Bush Poetry
A lonely plough sat high and dry
it's working days were done.
A nostalgic end of a time gone by
beneath a scorching summer sun

A glimpse of my Grandfather I thought I saw
a man strong of heart and hand
but he had passed on years before.
He was devoted to the land.

Where crops once waved in a gentle breeze
now lies barren and stony ground.
The old homestead nestled in the sheoak trees
not a sign of life is found.

With leadlight cracked in every door
its stately charm is stripped.
The return verandah returns no more.
The faded blinds are ripped.

The Smithy's shop is silent out back.
No more metal left to forge.
To the east was an old bush track
that led to the horses in a gorge.

Rusting bits were scattered far and wide
where the implement shed once stood.
No life, no noise, no place to hide
only crumbling stone and the smell of rotting wood.

All the workmen with their sun soaked faces
in the past had seldom seen
the outside world and open spaces
beyond the land where they'd always been.

The wheat fields once stood ripe and full
and pastures lush with springtime rain.
No shearers, no sheep, no bailed wool.
Our only salvation was the pesky Salvation Jane.

Everything now in ruins lay.
It's such a sad and sorry sight.
A home to many in its day
now stands empty both day and night.

Sunrise awakens our secret tears
in the early morning calm.
Silence now after all those years
Merely a shadow of a farm.

The winds of change had found their way
and blown away our dreams.
If we could stay just one more day
not a hope in hell it seems.

The memories are locked deep in my mind.
There is nothing more to keep.
The days in the bush are left far behind
but I can see them if only in my sleep.

A Country Fair

Gabriella Guo

Winner Primary Poetry
As the morning sun rises early,
And happiness fills the air,
A sleepy town between the hills
Wakes ready for the fair.

The town has waited months
For this early autumn day.
The fair will go ahead,
With skies bright blue or grey.

The sun now on the rise,
All fears of weather drowned,
The townsfolk pack in readiness
And head to the showground.

The fair is filled with wonder,
With games and shows and food.
Plush toys as big as beach balls
Set up a cheery mood.

The smell of ham and toasted cheese
Will always get attention.
The patrons fill their bellies
With the tastiest invention.

There are comedies and shows,
All forms of entertainment.
The drama starts with spotlights
Shining down in pure amazement.

Waves of children ride the ponies
And brush their silky hair.
And toddlers stroke white rabbits,
Their fingers taking care.

Roller-coasters, carousels…
The fair is filled with rides.
Merry-go-rounds and bumper cars,
Drop towers and slip-slides.

Giant pumpkins make the townsfolk gasp, 
Iced cakes and gourmet pies
The winners all on proud display,
Blue ribbons as the prize. 

The laughter fades to farewells,
And the sun now starts to set.
A day of wonder fizzles out
But no one will forget!

The Black Raven

Victor Hou

Winner Junior Primary Poetry
The raven was black
From head to toe
It flew onto a black tree
Gnarled and low

The sun sank into the horizon
One star was lit in the west
Home sweet home
The raven was back in its nest

The dark rivers swelled with water
The inky black fungus tainted the trees.
The grass swayed in the wind
The crickets chirped mournful melodies

The raven slept soundly
Its head was full of dreams
Of deep dark caves
And lonely moon beams