ArtsCQ supporter and past judge of our Lorna McDonald Essay Prize, Julie Davies, has just won the Open Category of the Henry Lawson Short Story Prize, plus the Overall Best Writing award. Julie is thrilled to win this particular prize because Henry Lawson’s work changed her life.
‘Although the prizes are small, $500 and a gorgeous bronze statuette of “The Drover’s Wife”,’ she said, ‘this win has great meaning for me. I’m a Kiwi who only stopped off in Oz in 1978 on my way to London.
‘After seeing a flock of crimson rosellas streak across a sandstone bluff in the Blue Mountains, looking for all the world like a post-impressionist painting, I decided to stay longer. Then after reading a tatty second-hand edition of the complete works of Henry Lawson, “The Drover’s Wife” in particular, I cashed in my open airfare and headed north to the Gulf country plains to work as a governess.
‘I went down to Mt Isa for the school holidays and met my husband, deciding to marry just two days later. Then in 1985 I took out Australian citizenship when I realised this was home.’
So, if not for Henry Lawson, Julie wouldn’t be an Australian or married for 40 years.
Her winning story “Dust Devil” is an adapted chapter from her second and as yet unfinished novel Dust in the Wind. It’s a very sad tale about the consequences of long-term drought. Julie believes the rawness of the narrative is probably what tipped it for her with this particular award, because Henry also told it like it was, rare in his time.