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Nature Writing Prize 2019

in Western Australia.
Cockburn Ranges in Western Australia. © Jan Glovac

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Two writers have been revealed as joint winners of 2019 Nature Writing Prize. Jenny Sinclair and Sue Castrique received top honours as the winners of the fifth biennial prize, announced on May 9th 2019 at the State Library of Victoria.

The Nature Writing Prize attracts a large number of submissions, each exploring the writer’s relationship and interaction with some aspect of the Australian landscape.

The competition’s judges for 2019, Delia Falconer and Tom Griffiths AO, had to choose between many fine essays, ultimately identifying those of the highest literary merit. Jenny Sinclair’s An Orchard For My Father and Sue Castrique’s On the Margins of the Good Swamp were those essays.

Gregory Day’s Summer on the Painkalac, Hayley Katzen’s Life and Work and Deborah Wardle’s Beneath Our Feet were also commended as shortlisted essays for the prize.

Jenny and Sue were each presented with a $5,000 cheque by McLean Foundation trustee Paula McLean, with multimedia versions of both essays published online at griffithreview.com.

Read the winning essays:

  • An Orchard For My Father by Jenny Sinclair
  • On the Margins of the Good Swamp by Sue Castrique

Read the shortlisted essays:

Read Ashley Hay's keynote speech from the evening

For more information read the media release

Read the Media Release

About the Nature Writing Prize

The Nature Conservancy Nature Writing Prize is a biennial event created to promote and celebrate the art of nature writing in Australia, as well as to encourage a greater appreciation of our magnificent landscapes. 

The winner of the best essay (3,000 – 5,000 words) in the genre of ‘Writing of Place’ received a $5,000 award and is published as an online multimedia essay by Griffith Review – Australia’s leading literary quarterly publication.

The prize will go to an Australian writer whose entry is judged to be of the highest literary merit and which best explores their relationship and interaction with some aspect of the Australian landscape.

About the Judges

The judges for the 2019 Nature Writing Prize are writers and academics Dr Delia Falconer and Professor Tom Griffiths AO. 

Delia Falconer is the author of two novels (The Service of Clouds and The Lost Thoughts of Soldiers) and Sydney, a personal history of her hometown. Her essays and critical writing have appeared in Australia, France and the US and been anthologised frequently in The Best Australian Essays. She teaches creative non-fiction at the University of Technology Sydney. Her review-essay “The Opposite of Glamour,” about how writers are responding to the Sixth Great Extinction, won the 2018 Walkley-Pascall Prize for arts criticism.

Tom Griffiths AO is a historian whose books and essays have won prizes in history, science, literature, politics and journalism including the Douglas Stewart and Nettie Palmer Prizes for Non-Fiction, the Ernest Scott Prize, the Eureka Science Book Prize and the Prime Minister’s Prize for Australian History. He is the author of: 

  • Hunters and Collectors: The Antiquarian Imagination in Australia
  • Forests of Ash: An Environmental History
  • Slicing the Silence: Voyaging to Antarctica
  • Living with Fire (with Christine Hansen), and 
  • The Art of Time Travel: Historians and their Craft

He is Emeritus Professor of History and Director of the Centre for Environmental History at Australian National University.

The 2017 Prize

The 2017 prize was won by Sophie Cunningham for her essay entitled Biyala Stories – an account of the natural and social history of the red gums and waterways of Melbourne’s landscape. 

2017 shortlisted entries


The prize has been made possible thanks to a generous donation from the McLean Foundation, which promotes and celebrates the literature of nature in Australia.