Arts & Culture

Hilltops writers’ competition offers golden opportunity to share history

Edwina Mason10 June 2022
 The late Valerie Parv

One of Australia’s most prolific romance novelists, the late Valerie Parv, was also a member of the FAW Young branch. Photo: valerieparv.com.

A small writers group at Young has spearheaded a national competition that may unearth some extraordinary personal histories of our nation.

The Fellowship of Australian Writers (FAW) Lambing Flat branch has launched the Burrangong Gold Writing Competition 2022, inviting writers of all ages to submit a fictional short story or memoir. It’s a fitting name, given the deep veins of gold that gave life to the gold mining settlement formerly known as Lambing Flat, which had sprung up on Burrangong Station.

President Jennifer Haynes says the competition forms part of the group’s 40th anniversary celebrations.


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The brief is broad but simple – stories can be fiction, non-fiction, a memoir or a mix, but should reflect history, families and migration.

“Here in Young of course we have many stories of people who have moved out here and established themselves from the early goldrush days to today where we have the largest Muslim population outside Sydney,” Jennifer said.

“We’d love to see people sharing snippets of their migration, their family history or stories that have been passed down through the generations, so the stories don’t get lost.”

The FAW itself is steeped in history having formed in Sydney in 1928 in response to the neglectful way the Australian arts community, including writers, were treated at the time.

Prominent writers at the time such as Mary Gilmore, Steel Rudd and John le Gay Brereton were among its founding members.

While its fortunes over the years ebbed and flowed fellowship grew throughout Australia through masterful strokes like Children’s Book Week and various literary competitions uncovering brilliance.

Among the 1941 Short Story Competition winners was Alan Marshall, one of Australia’s most loved authors.

Since the inauguration, some of Australia’s most acclaimed writers have passed through the ranks—including Miles Franklin, George Mackaness, Pixie O’Harris, Dorothea Mackellar and Marjorie Barnard.


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Around 1980 a group of three women in Young – Jean Goodridge, Kathryn Andersen (now Coughran) and Halley Boyer – known to each other, all with an interest in writing, started sharing their works over coffee and a little chit chat.

Two years later, as membership swelled, they would fall under the umbrella of the national FAW, which was reaching out to regional writers’ groups.

It has counted among its membership the late Valerie Parv – who published more than 70 novels and sold more than 34 million books translated into 29 languages.

Today the 11 members still meet to share and socialise. The greatest feather on their quill is the annual National Cherry Festival Writers Competition, which attracts hundreds of short stories, prose and poems from adults and school children throughout Australia.

But in 2022 several one-off activities are planned to celebrate their milestone 40th year as a branch of the FAW, including an anthology book launch, a celebratory dinner, and the Burrangong Gold Writing Competition.

For this competition a memoir is defined as an incident or series of related incidents from the writer’s own family life or history, including but not limited to stories passed through generations.

Entries for all categories are to reflect one or a combination of:

  • Incidents and experiences in migration to Australia from the 1800s to 2000s
  • Any experience/s of life in and travel to any Australian goldfield/s
  • Any story based on/in the Burrangong goldfields, past to present

“As you can see, stories do not have to be limited to the Burrangong area,” Jennifer said.

“For instance, the Snowy Mountains area may be a source for stories from families who migrated for the Snowy Mountains Scheme.

“We’re reaching out to anyone and everyone willing to put pen to paper.”


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School students of schools located within the Hilltops Council area are invited to write a piece of fiction or non-fiction or research based on the history of the Burrangong Goldfields.

Adults and school students in Years seven to 12 can pen up to 2000 words and students in Years four to six can write 700-800 words.

The winner and runner-up of the adult category will receive $200 and $100 in cash respectively, Years seven to 12 category $150 and $75 respectively and Years four to six category $50 or $25 respectively.

The adult entry fee is $5 and student entry is free, limited to one entry per student.

The competition closes on 15 June 2022.

The entry form, terms and conditions and details for the school competition are available by emailing [email protected] or contacting Jennifer Haynes on 0457 903 240 or Joan Dwyer on 0408 739 733.

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One Response to Hilltops writers’ competition offers golden opportunity to share history

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Brian Barnes Brian Barnes 5:16 pm 11 Jun 22

I wish I had known about this earlier as I would have taken time to submit a story or two. Please let me know if this is an annual event
Regards,
Brian Barnes

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