On Sunday morning a large group gathered on the railway platform of the Tourist Information Centre to celebrate the winners and the place getters of the 2023 Fellowship of Australian Writers Lambing Flat Branch Cherry Festival Competition.
With record entries in all categories for this year's event it was fantastic to have so many locals pick up prizes with such highly competitive writers in all fields.
"In 2023 there was a rich variety of storylines covering various genres," the judges wrote in regards to the Adult Short Story section.
"Well done to all entrants for providing a cornucopia of stories and themes for the five judges to consider.
"Each story entered is read multiple times and assessed on plot, characters, theme, setting and atmosphere, mechanics, writing quality and whether the reader's emotions are engaged."
To make the competition fair every story is judged blind so the five judges are not aware of who the author's are or where they come from.
"Entry forms are separated from stories before being distributed to the judges," the judges wrote.
"We were looking for well structured stories with believable characters that held the reader's attention. Any dialogue to be natural and in keeping with the story's character/s. There should be no editing issues."
Adult Short Story:
First place: Fair Game by Alan Hewett from Wodonga Victoria.
Judges comments: Fair Game is a beautifully finessed piece of impeccable writing.
The first short sentence grabs the reader's curiosity. The second, slightly longer sentence introduces the theme of the story - hunting.
Thereafter the sole character, the plot and the setting are seamlessly integrated into the riveting story of the hunt. The reader lives the hunter's every step, mind set, thoughts, observations and decisions, in the milieu of the landscape and the vagaries of its weather.
The tension of the initial hunt, followed by that of being the hunted is palpable.
Fair Game is at its best when read aloud. The succinct prose flows easily for the reader.
Fair Game has the integrity to engage non-hunters. It was the undisputed winning entry.
Second place: I Owe It All To You Dad by Mike Woodhouse from Bowral NSW.
Third place: I'm Sorry by Vikki Bye from Yarrawonga Victoria.
The Trenches - Lee McKerracher Raby NSW
A Bump in the Road - Greg Schmidt Claremont Meadows NSW
Divine Intervention - Irene Dalgety Timpone Atherton QLD.
What Came After - Elle Vidovich Tugun QLD
Coffee Cravings - Dianne Wiggins Bonny Hills NSW
The Lesson - Barry Riley Woy Woy NSW
First place: Field to Page by Julie Butler from Walcha NSW.
Judges comments: First place has been awarded to this poem because of the excellence of its use of language, example and allusion, its insightful treatment of its subject matter and the importance of the conclusion as a world view.
Looking at conflicts and wars, how they are recorded, and judgements made on the event and participants, the composer of this work makes it apparent that primary sources abound wherever there are actors and events - that books, diaries, letters home, examined, are rare, available, interesting if not compelling gifts and open new vistas to researchers, and look at the multi-factored reasons behind sometimes narrow interpretations.
Opening up previously unknown fundamental details on Mao, Stalin, Evelyn Waugh, just as starters, the composer offers the possibility in the last stanza that researchers may find 'vaster wilds burning beyond limits of imagination.' Impressive in concept and execution.
Second place: If I Don't Remember by Maria C Barreda-Hanson from Bandra Point NSW.
Third place: Faith of my Father by Catherine Lee from Mona Vale NSW.
The Wedding Dress - Margaret Armstrong Batemans Bay NSW
It Lies There Alone - Ilana Krueger Penrith NSW
Paradox - Colleen Keating Normanhurst NSW.
On Drifting Cloud - Colleen Keating Normanhurst NSW
One Cool Evening In May - Kate Maxwell Kirribilli NSW
Small Town Siren - Jane Cottee Oaks Estate ACT
Years 7 to 9 Short Story
First place: When Soldiers Came by Bradee DiNunzio from Devonport TAS.
Second place: Stages of Figuring Out What is Going on in My Heart by Amrit Kaur from Glenwood High School NSW.
Third place: I'll Save a Seat For You by Claire Zhou from Dianella WA.
Highly Commended: Felix by Ava Vanderplas Hobart TAS.
Commended: The Unexpected Break In by Scarlett Hughes from Glen Orchy TAS.
Years 10 to 12 Short Story
First place: The Gateway to Earth by Lily Axelby from Nicholls in ACT.
Second place: Colours of Hope by Yuna Cho from Dundas Valley in NSW.
Highly Commended: Lady Jane Grey by Eliza Hoh from Malabar in NSW.
Commended: An Extraordinary Exodus by Yevan Mallawa from Glenwood High in NSW.
Encouragement Award: Memories of Her by Isabella Carr from Cootamundra NSW.
Years 7 to 9 Poetry
First place: Whispers of Destiny by Shayan Lodhi from Glenwood High NSW.
Second place: Love or Hate by Sarah McDowell from Wagga Wagga NSW.
Extraordinary Spring by Sehajleen Kaur from Glenwood High NSW.
Fateful Day by Pippa Riley from Sandy Bay TAS
Commendation: Reaching Stars on Mars by Kabir Qazizada from Glenwood High NSW
Encouragement Award: Little Birdie by Anwesha Podda Baulkham Hills NSW.
Years 10 to 12 Poetry
First place: The Rusty Chain by Josh Cameron, Young NSW.
Second place: One Person by Peter Gitman Oyster Bay NSW
Highly Commended: Valiance by Japji Dhiman Glenwood High NSW.
Years 1 to 3 Junior Primary Short Story
First place: The Banana in Undies by Rosie Scott from St Joseph's Boorowa NSW
Second place: The Pickle Pirates by Gabriel Corkery Young NSW
A Bad Dream by Billie Banfield Ashfield NSW
The One Wish by Ivy May Chamberlain Wallendbeen NSW
The Abandoned House by Freddie Simpson Young Public School NSW
Fussy the Unicorn by Roxy Taylor St Joseph's Boorowa.
The Snail King by Annabelle Calvert Young NSW
Mr Funny Onion by Lincoln Seaman Young Public School NSW.
Where's Layla? by Thea White Young Public School
Ash and Delilah's Bad Day Out by Ashton Moore Young Public School
On the Cruise by Isla Winterton Young Public School.
Years 4 to 6 Primary Short Story
First place: The Secret, Hidden Chimpanzee by Chelsea Dwyer Uranquinty NSW
Second place: My Mysterious Neighbour by Kanna Button Ashfield NSW
Alone by Ivy Taylor St Joseph's Boorow
The Gravitational Problem by Stephanie Tan Citipointe Christian College Cairndale QLD
Girl Entering the Daunting Tunnel by Katy Jones Coolamon NSW.
The Real World by Grace Prosper St Joseph's Boorowa
Deep Dive by Roman van Ryn Trevallyn TAS
The Escape by Lucy McAllister Young NSW
Encouragement award: Scream by Tom Coble St Joseph's Boorowa.
Years 1 to 3 Junior Primary Poetry
First place: Home by Annabelle Woo from Wolli Creek in NSW
Second place: When I'm Angry by Elysia Roselle Woo Wolli Creek NSW
The Wind by Benjamin Watson Glaziers Bay TAS
On Top by Gabriel Harris Citipointe Christian College Cairndale QLD
Thunderstorm by Daphne Zhang Citipointe Christian College Cairndale QLD
Winter by Liam Surilla Young Public School
The Beach by Thea White Young Public School
The Dusty Track Home by Elke Saya Bagdad TAS
When I Jump Into The Ocean by August Walter Hunonville TAS
One Leg by Annabelle Calvert Young NSW
RFDS by Alfie Gebert Menindee NSW
Glorious Games by Oliver Ng Ashfield NSW
Whale by Lincoln Seaman Young Public School
Writing by Ned Robinson St Joseph's Boorowa
Stormy Day by Charlie Whitechurch Young Public School
Years 4 to 6 Primary Poetry
First place: The Storm by Charlie Jin Citipointe Christian College Cairndale QLD
Second place: Finches by Nyrah Sangeeth Glenwood NSW
Lights Out by Eric Wang Citipointe Christian College Cairndale QLD
Neither Here Nor There by Remy Francis Castle Hill NSW
Day by Lyra Chen Point Cook VIC
The Glacier by Jasmine Lo Toongabbie NSW
The Mountain by Mila Bischoff St Michael's Collegiate Hobart TAS
Love Is Not As Easy As It Seems by Clem Chapman St Anthony's School Greenmount WA
The Heaven's Above by Rachel Mihaleff Glenwood NSW
Silent Midnight Stalkers by Visahan Surendan Homebush NSW
The Holocaust by Somer Oldfield Trinity Catholic School Murrumburrah
Moments on the Murrumbidgee by Raphael Summerfield Trinity Catholic School Murrumburrah
A huge congratulations goes out to everyone who entered.
The judges also gave some tips to those who may be interested in entering next year's competition.
"The judges advise all entrants to carefully check the mechanics of your story before submitting it," they said.
"Read, re-read and edit. Read your story out aloud as we do. Check for spelling errors, be wary of predictive text manifesting itself in your text, be consistent.
"Check for the overuse or incorrect use of words. Check for grammatical and typographical errors. Check your syntax. Does a sentence say what you mean or something else altogether?
"Consider the length of your sentences. Would your story be better served with shorter sentences?"
The judges urge writers to follow these tips as they were made to sit aside a number of stories this year.
"Many stories this year were finally put aside (often reluctantly) because of these factors. Remember this is a competition."
The Lambing Flat FAW has thanked all its entrants for supporting its competition.
"It was a pleasure to be entrusted with your work," they said.
"Keep writing and keep entering."