Lorna McDonald Essay Prize

The Arts Central Queensland Lorna McDonald Essay Prize 2019 is now closed. This year we’ve doubled the first prize to $2,000.  There is also a runner up encouragement prize of $500.

The annual competition is open to essays of 3000 to 5000 words exploring any aspect of Central Queensland’s history, art, science, lifestyle and locals. It’s free to enter, there is no age limit, and there are no geographic boundaries as long as your work is specific to some aspect of the region.

Judge Roger McDonald said the judges are particularly looking for previously under-represented voices and overlooked aspects of the Central Queensland experience.

“Looking out across the paddock on a beautiful morning it is so easy to take many aspects of the environment for granted; the underlying geology, the tenacity of grasses, the hydrology, the birdlife, the Aboriginal history to name but a few,” Mr McDonald said.

“We want to hear all of what makes Central Queensland tick.”

The Prize encourages essayists to share new perspectives, research, personal stories and points of view about the region that covers the Local Government Areas of:

  • Banana
  • Barcaldine
  • Barcoo
  • Blackall-Tambo
  • Boulia
  • Central Highlands
  • Diamantina
  • Gladstone
  • Issac
  • Livingstone
  • Longreach
  • Rockhampton
  • Winton.

Newly expressed or previously overlooked cultural experiences are very welcome. These may include history, whether social, economic, or political, but also embrace the arts, Indigenous experience, natural history, marine science, geology, land use, land care, or any matter pertaining to the region.

All essays should be coloured by personal, memoirist experience, at once literary and imaginative, as covered by the broad term ‘essay’, which implies personal connection and strong feeling, as well as broader perspectives.

This is an opportunity for academic writers to reveal their personal connection and passion for their subject and for memoirists to expand their personal story by researching and writing on broader aspects of life in CQ.

This annual essay prize celebrates Lorna McDonald’s efforts in collecting, interpreting, recording and writing the history of the Central Queensland region.  You can read more about Lorna’s life and work below the entry form.

The Lorna McDonald Essay Prize for 2019 is now closed.

The Conditions of Entry for this year’s Prize are available here: Conditions of Entry

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Why not take the opportunity to read last year’s winning essay here:

Winner 2018 Ructions and Resilience: A Family Crisis and the Meteor Park Orphanage, 1916 by Lesley Synge

Winner 2017 Woolwashing by Amanda Goodwin

Or read one of Lorna’s final essays: Australia’s Back Roads

A Little About Lorna

Lorna McDonald was born Lorna Lorraine Bucknall at Portland, Victoria, on 10 August, 1916, and grew up at “Clifton”, Drik Drik. She married Hugh Fraser McDonald, from Rockhampton, in 1938.

After raising three sons, Donal, Roger and Gavin in country NSW and in Sydney, Lorna and Hugh moved to Rockhampton in 1963. Here Lorna undertook study as a mature age student, beginning in 1967 with matriculation, and continued through to undergraduate and postgraduate study as an external student, University of Queensland, gaining her PhD in 1986.

With her appointment by Rockhampton City Council as Rockhampton Historian 1976-80, and by Gladstone City Council as Gladstone Historian 1984-87, she became a professional public historian, and continued as a freelance public historian until 2016, when she announced her retirement with the publication of the last of her many books mainly about the Central Queensland region.

In 1995 she was awarded the OAM, in 2000 a D.Litt., Central Queensland University, and in 2007 the John Douglas Kerr Medal of Distinction, Royal Historical Society of Queensland and Professional Historians’ Association (Qld).

Lorna McDonald died on 25 June 2017 in Rockhampton, the city at the centre of the region she had grown to know intimately through her study and writing, and to love.