Writers from Western Australia, Queensland and Nelson Bay in NSW took out the top prizes in the inaugural Sutherland Shire Literary Competition.
Internationally acclaimed author Kathy Lette, whose career began in 1979 with the classic Puberty Blues, which was set in the shire, presented the awards at a function at Hazelhurst Arts Centre on Tuesday night.
The Sutherland Shire Council competition included three categories – traditional verse, free verse and short stories.
Carla Fitzgerald, of Como, who was awarded third prize in the short stories category, was the only shire entrant in the top three placings in each section.
A Shire Resident’s Award in each category was won by Ann O’Connor, of Gymea, for traditional verse and Tee Linden, of Sutherland, for both free verse and short stories.
Joyce Noble, of Engadine, was highly commended for her free verse entry.
A total of 581 entries were received from around Australia, of which 250 were from shire residents.
The judges were poet David Campbell and writer and academic Claire Corbett.
Council committee chair Barry Collier, who proposed the competition, said it had been “an outstanding success in anyone’s language”.
“We’ve put the shire of on the literary map, attracting top quality entries from across the nation, to the point where we had a first prize winner fly in Western Australia to receive his award,” Cr Collier said.
“This competition was about recognising, promoting and celebrating our own creativity here in the shire, and now we’re well on the road to doing that.”
Cr Collier said, from the response and accolades, he expected the competition to become a regular event.
Mayor Carmelo Pesce said the competition had “proved a resounding success, and just goes to show what a fantastic array of literary talent we have, both across Sutherland Shire and Australia.”
Prize money was made possible through the sponsorship of Sutherland District Trade Union Club (Tradies), the University of Wollongong and Moran Aged Care.
Category winners received a $1000 prize and the runners-up $500 and $250.