The Theme for the 2024 Prize is Up the Country

Short Story and Verse Competitions

The theme for the Henry Lawson Festival this year is Up the Country after one of the earliest and most celebrated poems of the young Henry Lawson.

Adopting this theme for the Short Story and Verse competitions, we seek contributions of high-quality literary merit which present Australian country life in any of its phases.

In recent times, Australia has seen its share of hardship in the COVID pandemic and in the impact of individual isolation; floods; fires and drought.

This year’s theme invites reflections on Australian country life that we have witnessed, which might capture the elements of hardship and despair; courage and fortitude; or compassion and mateship.

Context of Up the Country

Up The Country was first published in The Bulletin magazine on 9 July 1892, under the title Borderland, and started the Bulletin Debate, a series of poems by both Lawson and Andrew Barton “Banjo” Paterson about the true nature of life in the Australian bush.

In Up The Country, Lawson recounts his trip to the barren and gloomy Australian bush, and criticises “City Bushmen” such as Banjo Paterson who tended to romanticize bush life.

Fortunately for Australia, Henry’s later short stories and verse also presented many other aspects of Australian life, observing the wider world with wry humour, insight and compassion. It is this wide range of elements that we encourage competitors to explore in this year’s competition.


Section 1 Open Section (limited to 48 lines)

Entrants must be 18 years or over on 31st March 2024

First Prize: $1,000

Second Prize: $500

Section 2 High School Student

First Prize: $250

Second Prize: $100

Section 3 Primary School Student

First Prize: $100

Second Prize: $50


(Limited to 2000 words)

Section 1 Open Section 

Entrants must be 18 years or over on 31st March 2024

First Prize: $1000

Second Prize: $500

Section 2 High School Student

First Prize: $250

Second Prize: $100

Section 3 Primary School Student

First Prize: $100

Second prize: $50

The 2024 Grenfell Henry Lawson Festival POETRY and SHORT Story Prize

Entry deadline

Entries into the 2024 Grenfell Henry Lawson Festival POETRY and SHORT Story Prize will be accepted until Midnight (AEST), 5 May 2024.

Conditions of Entry

  • Entries in the Open Sections written in English are invited from writers over 18 living in Australia.
  • There are sections for High School and for Primary School Students living in Australia.

Entry process

  • Entries must be submitted online.
  • Judging is blind. The author’s name must not appear in the story or poem or in the title of the digital file.
  • Entrants will receive automatic confirmation of receipt to the email address used when entering.
  • By entering the competition entrants agree to all conditions. In all matters. The Judges and The Grenfell Henry Lawson Festival of Arts committee will not enter into any correspondence regarding the judging.


  • Entries must be written in English.
  • Entries in the Short Story section must no more than 2,000 words
  • Entry in the Poetry Section must be limited to 48 lines.
  • The text should be presented with 1.5 line spacing and in Times New Roman 12 pt font size.
  • The pages should be numbered.
  • The file name should include ONLY the title of the Poem or Short story. Entrants should not include their own name in the file name.

Exclusivity, publication

  • Each entry must be original and not have been previously entered in this competition, published, or publicly broadcast, including online.
  • Entries may be offered elsewhere during the judging.
  • The winning short stories and poems will be announced Thursday 8 June 2024.
  • Entries must not infringe upon anyone’s copyright.
  • Stories or Poems that are deemed to be works of plagiarism will be disqualified.
  • Entries must contain nothing libellous, unlawful, defamatory, or anything the GHLFC may deem to be inappropriate (general vulgar language is permitted).
  • Translations are not eligible.
  • If entrants subsequently withdraw their entries, the entry fee will not be refunded.

Cost to enter each Poem or Short Story?

  • Entry is $5.00 for school students
  • Each entry in the open sections must be accompanied by an entry fee of $35.00

Entrants are required to tick the declaration box on the online entry page.


I hereby declare that my entry in the Grenfell rt Story and Poetry Prize is my own work, not published in any form. I have read all the terms and conditions and agree to abide by them.

Entry Fees:

Adults: $35 per entry or $5.00 for school students

Payment can be made HERE


  • The Festival Committee reserves the right to publish, in limited edition, and without payment to the author, an Anthology of award-winning entries. A selection of these may also be published once only in The Grenfell Record and on the Festival website, also without fee payable to the author. Copyright remains with the author thereafter. Details regarding publication and purchase of the anthology will be found on the website.

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