Shortlisted writers for the 2023 Nature Writing Prize

Pilbara Sunset
Pilbara Sunset Pilbara Sunset 170km south of Karratha in the Millstream Chitchester NP © Sean Sloper/TNC Photo Contest 2019

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2023 Nature Writing Prize

The Nature Conservancy (TNC) Australia announced the shortlisted writers for the 2023 Nature Writing Prize. The shortlist includes five Victorian writers.

Bonny Cassidy
Lily Chan
Lesley Head
Connor Tomas O'Brien
Dave Witty


Bonny Cassidy
Chewton Bushlands

A Custodial Species – draws together a beautiful combination of story, emotion, research, theory, artifact and experience. It maps a new path between the perceived threat wielded by the lost big trees of Ireland to the protection still afforded by trees in Victoria.

Lily Chan

The Golden Age – demonstrates the multiplicities of experience alongside big questions of faith, hope, apocalypse and childhood. It balances domestic details and universal misunderstandings alongside the colours and creatures of one small piece of Western Australia.

Lesley Head

The Preserves – unpacks the realities and cultural meanings of blackberries, an invasive species and valuable horticultural crop. This piece invites readers into the sensory world of jam-making and charts a journey through history, culture and nature.

Connor Tomas O’Brien
Brunswick East

The Cryptids – takes nature writing in a different kind of direction. It is a potent reminder of the transient nature of life and landscapes, and of what we’re willing to recognise or ignore.

Dave Witty

Unconformities – is a rich and intelligent essay that inhabits its material, sending readers on a quest for the extraordinary in Melbourne’s urban and peri-urban landscapes.


Quote: Alison Rowe

We were impressed to see so many writers respond and connect with nature in such a personal way through their writing. We are very grateful to our judges, Ashley Hay and Cameron Muir, who took the time to read all the submissions.

Managing Director, The Nature Conservancy Australia

“Congratulations to the shortlist. We look forward to revealing the Prize recipient in Melbourne at the end November ahead of a motivating keynote from Tim Winton,” said Rowe.

The judges reviewed 3,000 to 5,000-word essays on the genre of “Writing of Place” and said that Prize drew a wealth of entrants whose essays delivered rich evocations of country infused with careful personal reflection.

“Submissions resonated with converging themes. Notably, the indelible marks of COVID lockdowns, bushfires, and floods of years past still loom large. There were stories of passion, humour, despair and celebration among a range of established and emerging writers,” said Hay and Muir.

The TNC Australia Nature Writing Prize promotes and celebrates the art of nature writing in Australia as well as to encourage a greater appreciation of Australia’s magnificent landscapes.

Judges will award the Prize to an Australian writer whose entry of the highest literary merit and which best explores their relationship and interaction with some aspect of the Australian landscape.

The AUD$7,500 Prize is generously sponsored by the McLean Foundation. The Prize recipient will also have an opportunity for publication in The Monthly at the discretion of the Schwartz Media editorial team.

An additional author will receive the Rosina Joy Buckman Award, an AUD$1,000 highly commended award thanks to the generous support of Life at Springfield.

Since 2011, the biennial Nature Writing Prize has acknowledged literary creatives from budding novelists to published authors, including Gregory Day (2021), Jenny Sinclair and Sue Castrique (2019), Sophie Cunningham (2017), Nick Gadd (2015), Stephen Wright (2014) and Annamaria Weldon (2011).

2023 The Nature Writing Prize announcement

Keynote address by Tim Winton
Wednesday, 22 November 2023
6.30pm for a 7pm start
RMIT The Capitol, 113 Swanston Street, Melbourne
Tickets: $15 – $30
Nature Writing Prize
TNC Australia

The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organisation dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we focus on getting things done efficiently and with the greatest positive impact for conservation. We’re a trusted organisation working in more than 70 countries and territories around the world on innovative solutions to our world’s toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. To learn more about The Nature Conservancy in Australia, follow us on Facebook.