2022 My Place Competition - Read The Winning Entries
1st Prize
Year 1 & 2 Category
Isabelle, Casey Grammar School (VIC)

The Time Machine

Suddenly I woke up in my bed and felt woozy and brainwashed. I got out of bed and wanted to play with my toys but… instead of a robosapien I found hula hoops, Matchbox cars, Slinkys and Tonka Trucks! I found myself in the 1940s and the 1960s. I miss my only iPad soooo much! And I asked myself how did I get here? I remembered how I made a time machine! I was just making it for fun. I didn’t mean for it to end up like this. Maybe if I made another one I could get back to the 2000s. I will need lots of pieces to make another one. I need a Slinky, weapons, Matchbox cars, Mr. Potato Head and a Tonka Truck! Now I have to get inventing and making. I have all of the materials to make it except a frisbee. I walked outside. When I was outside I saw a donkey with a tabby cat. I asked the little tabby cat “Have you seen a frisbee?” The fluffy cat ran away! I followed it. The little tabby cat led me to a black and white frisbee. I said “Good boy”. The fluffy tabby cat was pleased with himself. He meowed and then tumbled away! I followed it a second time. The tabby car led me to the old house again. I made the time machine very carefully. I also added a screen and a keyboard so it knew where I wanted to travel. Finally I was done making the delicate time machine. I pressed the button that says 2000s. Then I pressed go! I had to hold the Slinky that was attached to the time machine. Poof! I found my robosapien and my iPad at last. I am in the 2000s! “Time for dinner” mum calls. “I am so happy!” The End!


2nd Prize
Year 1 & 2 Category
Beatrice, Patrick Road State School (QLD)

The Story of Toff

My Great Grandma is 96 years old. She is a little bit blind and can’t hear properly and she has white curly hair. Her mind and memory are excellent and she loves telling me true stories about her life in the olden days and I’m going to tell you one now.

When my Great Grandma was a little girl she lived in Ascot in Brisbane in a wooden house with a large veranda and a wooden fence. It didn’t have busy roads around it like it does today and the shops were along the street. My Great Grandma had a dog called Toff. Toff was a red setter. He was just lovely with thick auburn fur.

Toff must have been very well trained because Great Grandma’s mum could send Toff down to the butchers all by himself with a basket with money and a list in it. He would trot down the road carrying the basket in his mouth. He’d go to the butchers and collect the meat and trot all the way back. Then he’d get a scone for being so good and NOT eating any meat.

One day Great Grandma and her little friend where walking back home with Toff from the butchers when a photographer stopped his car and asked if he could take their photo, so they smiled and were on the front page of the newspaper. The title said Toff, Gentleman That He Is, Carries the Basket, and that’s the end of the TRUE story.

3rd Prize
Year 1 & 2 Category
Oliver, South Yarra Primary School (VIC)

How COVID Changed My Place

I started school in term one 2020 at South Yarra Primary school in Melbourne when they announced the holidays early because of a mysterious new sickness. I felt happy because it meant that I had no school but then Covid-19 came and that meant I had to do everything on Zoom. I wasn’t happy because tasks were harder and pretty much all the through the day I couldn’t go outside and play with my friends.

But there were some good sides of Covid -19, for example during lockdowns people didn’t realise that they didn’t need to pay for car parking but they still did and in my one hour per day of outside exercise I went to all the parking machines and collected the money.

Otherwise I hated Covid-19 home schooling for my first two years of primary school and sometimes I couldn’t hear very well or other times the screen disconnected.

When my school opened again I was happy because I got to see my friends.

Highly Commended
Year 1 & 2 Category
Adelaide, Moree Christian School (NSW)

The Black Splotch

Hi, I’m Bella. I was on my swing when I heard something. “What was that?” I said. All I could see was a big black splotch. I crept up to where I saw the black splotch. Then I saw paper on the floor. “What is this doing here?” I said. The paper had some pictures on it. They were mysterious pictures. The pictures were how to ruin town! Luckily I was old enough to drive a car. I jumped in the car and drove to town. When I got there I saw a black cat and it was what the black splotch was. Then I saw a bomb falling. I caught the bomb and threw it away. I saved the town and became a queen. I was the boss. Australia became the best.

1st Prize
Year 3 & 4 Category
Lakshi, Pymble Ladies College (NSW)


Ancient souls linger in the dust
Swaying like columns in an earthquake.
The untamed creatures amble
Through intervening roots
Wind, furiously hurling
Spherical, transparent droplets.
Dense, wild roots.
Reside in the undergrowth.
Gum, eucalyptus, banksia.
It is not ours to take.
In a time where we do not belong
Our wildlife.
Our people.
Generations of fallen ancestors roam the barren landscape.
They forage and scavenge.
Unaware of prying eyes.
The ways of nature, followed through.
In unending chain.
The leaves are crisp and golden.
Satisfaction under my bare feet.
Laughing, dancing.
Singing, storytelling.
Unwritten, the words still linger.
Culture lives on.
Tradition cuts through.
Boomerangs whirl relentlessly
Crisply, slicing matted fur.
We have been through conflict.
Standing as one in a storm.
Delicate as a windswept petal in a hurricane.
Strong as the surface of concrete.
Ochre tans the warm of my skin.
Patterns radiate in blinding beams.
Historical artefacts blaze proudly in the radiant sun.
Blinding my eyes.
The desire for freedom.
Hope for culture.
The unwrinkled bark of ancient gum
Lush, flourishing leaves.
It welcomes newcomers to rest in the crook of a branch.
Decade after decade.
It has seen the past.
Heralding the presence of children.
All across the globe.
Bare feet patter.
What is in the past will never be resurrected.
But culture forever lives on.
Clapsticks beat continuously.
Chanting echoes serenely.
A fire in my eyes.
As I imitate the movement of kangaroo.
Flora and fauna, healing to my soul.
A circular group of clan mates.
Smiles upon their faces.
Terror breaks out unexpectedly.
Story - the life of our culture.
Cautiously, I aim the intricate spear.
Patterned with the stars above.
Stalking the unsuspecting wallaby-
Alas! The hunt is finished.
Rich soil abounds.
All is left now-
An endangered community of blue gum-standing strong.
Big hill
Eastern Road.
Many names drape the close-knit community.
The only traces of our clan
Engraved kangaroo footprints.
Meandering through rock holes.
We were the first Sri Lankans.
A multi cultured community
Diverse in all its history.
Ever changing.
Always growing.
Inching into the widespread branches
I eye the footprints of children.
Holding the vast secrets of this land
I will always remember that
I was not the first here.
2nd Prize
Year 3 & 4 Category
Frankie, Kahibah Public School (NSW)

My Garden Oasis

2020, Kahibah Public School Garden

Soft nurturing hands tip seeds into moist, nutrient rich soil. Stakes are shoved into new wicking beds. Students gather to watch the satisfying process. Soon, little sprouts will shoot from the soil and grow into a paradise, full to the brim with plants, bursting with life and colour. But for now we wait.

2022, Kahibah Public School Garden

The community had hoped the garden would be a success, but no one knew what a stunning sight it would be. Now, the garden is thriving. Everywhere you look, luscious, healthy plants blossom from the wicking beds, ready to be pulled gently from the moist earth. In addition to a range of delicious vegetables, the garden beds are home to friendly pollinators.

The students are learning new skills like maths and gardening, and developing a greater understanding of sustainability and responsibility. I have been at Kahibah Public School for almost five years, and I got to watch our garden rocket from piles of dirt to this blossoming oasis.

Now, many pupils of KPS are in the garden club, helping the garden to become even more plentiful. The bushes are teeming with rosemary, lavender and pineapple sage. The stakes are dripping with snow peas, eggplant and ripe tomatoes. The soil is bursting with carrots and ginger. Every few weeks, the garden club harvest the vegetables and herbs to sell at our successful garden stall.

Not only is the garden thriving, but the relationships between the students are thriving too. Unlikely friendships are sprouting with the students’ love for caring for this planet, connecting them like a strong, sturdy vine. Conversations bloom about gardening and the plants in our ecosystem. Friendships grow with every seed we sow into the soil.

Thinking about our garden makes me wonder about gardening a hundred years ago. Even though they used different tools and strategies, they still gardened as a way to eat nutritious food and even make some money. Even 10,000 years ago, gardening was used by Aboriginal mobs in our local area and all across Australia. Gardening is a skill that has been used for centuries!

I sometimes wonder if gardening is still a skill most people will understand in another hundred years. Gardening is really helpful for sustainability, because the food that you harvest won’t be shipped or wrapped in plastic. I believe that gardening is the future of sustainability, so we need to make sure the skill of gardening is passed down through generations, by teaching our children this essential skill.

My school garden is a sustainable utopia, chocablock with thriving herbs and hand-picked vegetables. I hope that this beautiful garden will be cared for by the school students after me and the students after them, because our garden is so exquisite, and it should be preserved. I know that the garden is a place I can go to, and I dream of this being a place people can go to in the future.

3rd Prize
Year 3 & 4 Category
Hesna, Pascoe Vale Primary School (VIC)


Listening to the whistling winds, Izzy and her dog Milo were running at the park when Izzy came across a trail she had never seen before. Izzy wanted to explore the trail but knew that she needed to get permission from her parents. Early next morning Izzy asked her parents if she and Milo could check the trail out and her parents gave her permission under one condition, she had to be very careful.

Slowly, Izzy stepped onto the rocky pathway and took a deep breath before entering. It felt as though it were enchanted, covered in vines, engulfed with greenery, wet with slimy moss, and immersed with itchy ivy. Izzy thought she must have been dreaming. "Wow!" said Izzy and "woof!" barked Milo, it was an enormous peppercorn tree. Izzy thought that she could share her discovery with her parents; however, when she called them over, they could not see the trail. Huh" said Izzy sounding a bit confused, she stammered "but, but it was…I don't get it, it was right here I swear, you believe me don't you mum…dad?"

Sitting down sulkily on the hard roots of the giant peppercorn tree, Izzy kept thinking why is it that Milo and I can see the enchanted forest but no one else can? She wondered how long the tree had been standing, when it was planted and how it survived the stormy nights and rainy days. The next day Izzy stayed at home and started researching all the questions she had pondered; she could not find any answers, this made her even more curious.

On Friday evening, Izzy's grandma came over. Izzy was walking through the hallway when she tripped over her grandma's handbag and a picture fell out of it. It was a picture of her grandma and a few children huddling around a tree. Izzy and her grandma sat down on a comfortable couch and chatted for hours! After a while, Izzy asked her grandma what she had longed to know, her peppercorn tree questions. Her grandma happily answered her well thought wonderings. Izzy found out that the students of 1981 Platypus Primary got together to plant a peppercorn tree in an enchanted place that no one else could see.

Izzy climbed up the stairs and jumped into bed. She glanced down at the park and the trail she felt a strong connection to. She thought of how she now had a place of her own other than her messy room and how everything had changed since 1981 but the peppercorn tree remained constant.

Awakening to a sudden school bell, Izzy noticed that she had been daydreaming this whole time. She had been under the shade of the peppercorn tree allowing her to escape into her carefree world. Izzy got up dusted off some dirt and ran to class.

Highly Commended
Year 3 & 4 Category
Adeline, Lutheran Ormeau Rivers District School (QLD)

My Place

Dear Diary,

Today is Saturday and I am relaxing under my tree in our front yard. It is to be precise, 12:01pm. I have been sitting on these strong roots for a few minutes although it seems like I have been here for 100 hours. I can feel the autumn midday breeze in my face as a dry, barren leaf bounces off my glasses and drifts slowly down into the gutter. I can hear my Mum’s voice echoing down the hallway and through the front door as she calls out to my sisters, “Go find your big sister, it is nearly lunchtime!” I am secretly, sneakily and silently sitting here. I camouflage into my surroundings so I can write to you before they discover me and tell me off for not coming inside. Welcome to my place, which has been my family home for 8 years.

Much has stayed the same here, you know. I still ride my bike along the same curvy paths that I rode when I was a toddler, except now I can peddle myself up the steeper hills. Each day we still drive over the same bridge that covers the creek and leads us out of Ormeau. I wave hello to the same lovely neighbours (Emma, Dan, Bob and Joy) and they react with a “G’day”. Some neighbours have moved away. We once enjoyed barbeques together, cheered for our teams in State of Origin (QUEENS-LAN-DER!) and even challenged one another to games of darts most evenings. They may be gone, nevertheless, we are still great friends. Maybe we will create new traditions soon.

Numerous things have stayed the same, but quite a lot has changed as well. When I first came here the trees and bushes were just starting to grow. Now they are almost as tall as a giraffe and are thriving throughout the streets. They are irresistible to the bees and insects. These trees give me shade and oxygen. When I ride near them I feel fresh air. Builders in the community have created more playgrounds nearby and my family and I have labelled them according to our favourite parks. We have the Mum Park, Dad Park, Adeline Park, Rose Park and Marella Park. I once adventured to these parks with just my Mum and Dad, but now I hear my two sisters trailing behind me whilst I ride ahead.

I can no longer hear my sisters searching for me. They sound far too quiet and maybe they are in my room! I better go and investigate what has distracted them before it’s too late! They might be touching my microscope or spinning my globe. I think Mum might be getting a bit infuriated that we have not come in for lunch yet too (Mum does not like reminding us more than once). Tip – a hug and a piece of dark chocolate will soothe her quicker!

This is my family. This is my place. This is me.

Yours sincerely,


Highly Commended
Year 3 & 4 Category
Adeline, Pymble Ladies College (NSW)

My Place - Chatswood

16 August 2022

Hi, my name’s Adeline. I’m nearly ten. I live in the tall building near the train station. During the weekend, I always go shopping with my mum for groceries. On our way to Lemon Grove on my scooter, I noticed the homeless person on the street got a new puppy. The big, scary dog the other person had seemed to not be that aggressive to the new arrival. The shop also got new black, fancy refrigerators to put their bean sprouts in. In Chase, all the couches have come back, and Coles have put up a new sign for collecting Harry Potter figurines.

30 December 2019

Hello, I’m Adeline. I’m 7 years old. My unit is on the highest level of my apartment next to Curry Park. We just came back from Japan and are planning to go to Hong Kong next, but with this unknown disease spreading around, lots of flights were cancelled and we were forced to change flights from Singapore directly back to Australia. Some people are wearing weird masks over their mouths and noses and posts with liquid inside are stationed around the airport. When I went back to school, signs about how to wash your hands were plastered in the toilets and all my friends laughed about it.

24 October 2016

Hello, I am Adeline. I’m 4 years old this year. Mummy says next year I’m going to be old enough to go and choose a school to go in 2018. I just started learning proper English last year and now I’m getting better at it. I speak Chinese at home and my parents never take me to childcare. Mummy and Daddy think it is too dirty and there is a lot of sick people in there. They teach me at home, mostly Chinese from Mummy and English and math from Daddy, so I don’t miss out on learning. When I went to my grandma’s house, she planted some beans so my cousin and I picked it and played together in the trees. The restaurant in the city added a new cake onto their menu. I also made dumplings with my mum and my skills improved!

13 September 2013


Translated (Original was Chinese):

Hello! NiuNiu (me) is 1 year old! NiuNiu’s mummy went out, so daddy play with NiuNiu. NiuNiu ate noodles for lunch. Mummy went out to buy toys for NiuNiu to play with. NiuNiu doesn’t drink milk anymore! NiuNiu has teeth now! NiuNiu can eat what Mummy and Daddy eat now! NiuNiu can even use chopsticks!

1st Prize
Year 5 & 6 Category
Jimmy, Maida Vale Primary School (WA)

The Creek

The first major rains of winter draw us back to the creek each year. This creek flows gently through my soul. It trickles through a little pocket of national park in Gooseberry Hill – a place where my mum spent her childhood exploring, and later where she, Dad and our kelpie spent many years exploring before I was born.

My earliest memories begin with Dad riding me to the creek on the back of his bike. The wind would be bitter and the rains lashing, and I loved every moment (mostly). My gumboots soon filled with water and were quickly abandoned. Then I could feel the icy rush of the creek pushing against my ankles, the slippery rocks and sludgy mud beneath my feet. I was so alive with adrenaline when I made it across!

When my younger brother and sister could come along, we were always in search of the next creek adventure. We’d hunt for tadpoles, race leaves along the water and over the edge of little waterfalls, or climb rock walls that loomed like mountains. Sometimes we’d take a snack to have a picnic when we made it to the top. We sat in the rusty shell of an abandoned car and wondered how it came to be there or pretended we were driving it along the track. We built a huge teepee from sticks and branches, to shelter from the rain, and carried out repairs or reinforcements with each visit.

Often on these trips our kelpie, Diesel, would disappear on his own little adventures – or wherever his nose would lead him, only to come casually trotting out of the bushes wondering what all our fuss was about trying to find him. One day the creek was high and flowing really fast, but our fearless Diesel leapt into the water anyway. We watched in horror as the water swirled and swallowed him, sucking him away through a large water pipe. For a brief few moments, time stood still, but somehow the pipe spat him out the other end, spluttering, but alive. I’d never seen my dad so worried.

Sometimes booming kangaroos would stop and watch us curiously before bounding off. You could almost feel the thud of their strength as their tails smacked the leafy ground. Diesel often tried to catch them, but never did. Once we stumbled across a pile of old kangaroo bones - a reminder that nature really is larger than life.

On longer walks up from the creek we reached the old quarry. We’d clap, cooee and then listen for the echo bouncing off the quarry wall. I try to imagine the workers cracking that giant rocky wall apart over 100 years ago. I also wonder if I’ve ever walked on those quarry rocks on roads and footpaths around Perth.

Huge, modern houses now sit where natural forest used to be, looking out over the bush through wide glass windows. In Spring, the long grass and wildflower pollen is thick in the air. Mum says it’s the smell of hayfever, but my little sister cartwheels through the colourful wildflower carpet anyway, collecting flowers and glistening flint stones along the way. On sunny afternoons we walk or ride the bush track up to our grandma’s, where she always has a cool, refreshing glass of cordial waiting for us, and maybe even a bowl of icecream with lots of sprinkles on top.

Our love for creek adventures has grown these days - each year we plan a week-long bike-packing trip along a different section of the Munda Biddi trail with Dad. The track weaves through different towns and landscapes with their own little creeks, and we learn about all the places with stories that make each one special. It’s mostly cold and wet when we’re riding, but once we set up camp and get warm, I love seeing all the stars and planets in the night sky, or snuggling-up in the tent with a game of cards. I love the adventure and excitement of these journeys - just as much as those first trips to the creek.

And so the creek near my home continues to run through my life. Mum and Dad say when Diesel dies, we can sprinkle his ashes in the creek and surrounding bushland, and our connection to this special place will flow through my memory forever.

2nd Prize
Year 5 & 6 Category
Shriya, Pascoe Vale Primary School (VIC)


“What’s that smell?”

Sarada pursed her lips and looked around. The popular girls were leering at her. And her lunch. Sarada masked her embarrassment by responding confidently.

“It’s my lunch. It’s a traditional Indian dish. Dosa.”

The girls erupted into a cruel guffaw. Sarada could feel her face getting redder as a wave of panic washed throughout her body. The most popular girl, the meanest, Penny, walked up to Sarada and with a sweeping motion, knocked Sarada’s lunch box onto the floor.

“Oops,” she smirked sarcastically, as she flipped her hair. “I’m doing do you a favour. Try to have a normal lunch next time.”

Sarada felt a ball of fury in her stomach. She collected her books and ran to the corner of the oval, where she curled up in a small ball.

Later that night, Sarada stared at her dinner with resentment.

“Everything ok? You’ve barely touched your butter chicken.”

Sarada’s eyes were glassy behind a veil of tears.

“It’s just…” she began, fumbling for words. “Why do we have weird food? Can you pack me a normal lunch like a vegemite sandwich or sausage roll?”

Sarada’s mum put her hands on her hips.

“Our food isn’t weird,” she said defiantly.

Sarada replied scornfully. “Then why are all the kids laughing at me? I just want a normal lunch that doesn’t smell. I hate being Indian!”

Sarada’s mum sighed. “Okay. If that’s what you want.”

The next day at school, Sarada opened her lunchbox to find that her mum had packed her a ham and cheese sandwich. Sarada was delighted.

A moment later, Penny came up to Sarada and looked at her lunch.

“Finally!” she exclaimed. “You have some normal food. I’m so happy you don’t stink up the canteen anymore.”

She walked away.

Sarada stared at her lunch. She thought she would be happy, but instead, she felt empty inside. Penny’s words didn’t give her any satisfaction. If anything, it almost made her feel guilty. She had betrayed her culture and her mother to appease Penny. The hollow feeling ate at her. She picked up her sandwich and nibbled at it.

That night, Sarada gnawed at the pizza. Unlike all the other times she had enjoyed pizza, this pizza tasted bland.

Suddenly, she heard a strange voice.

“You’re looking down, little one.”

Sarada looked up to see the source of the voice. She couldn’t see anyone else in the room.

“It’s me, Ganesha.”

Sarada’s mind whirled. Ganesha? The Indian God?

“Look at the statue,” Ganesha commanded.

Sarada looked at the statue of Ganesha that was on the little shrine by the corner of the room. It was hovering above the counter.

Sarada gasped and fell to her knees. She thought it was the right thing to do in the presence of a god.

“It’s okay,” said the voice. “I’m just here to talk.”

Sarada looked up at the statue.

“About what?” she managed to blurt out.

“Your identity crisis,” said the voice. “Are you Indian or not?”

Sarada gasped. Surely, she hadn’t insulted the Gods by refusing her dosa?

“It’s okay, child,” soothed the voice. He chuckled. “You are Indian, you are also Australian.”

Sarada remained silent.

“You must find balance,” continued the voice. “You must honour your culture. You must honour your parents. But you must also honour yourself. Don’t give up on who you are. It’s not easy being Indian and Australian. You are fortunate to have the gifts of both cultures. You have two homes, and both are equally yours. However, you might not fit in completely with one because you have the other. This is your blessing’ not curse.”

Sarada nodded. She understood.

The next day at school, Sarada handed a brown paper bag to each of her classmates. Many of them were curious and opened it: inside was something brown and shaped like a pyramid.

“Hey everyone!” announced Sarada loudly. “I’ve brought everyone a bit of Indian food to try. Samosas! Please try them and let me know what you think.”

Students opened their mouths to take a bite. Many of them nodded in approval and swallowed the rest.

“It’s really good!” cried a boy.



Penny, took a small bite and couldn’t help but enjoy them. “They taste amazing!” she admitted.

Nobody ever made fun of Sarada’s lunches again. Sometimes, they would ask to try some. Sarada was too happy to share.

She had found her place.

3rd Prize
Year 5 & 6 Category
Eleanor, The Friend's School (TAS)

My Place

Hello, my name is Ellie and this feels like my place.

I live in Battery Point with my parents, two siblings, two chickens and our dog and cat. Our main room is half glass, so you can see everything from the waves and toylike boats on the river, to the soft blossoms of the magnolia tree that reveals itself on my eldest sibling's birthday. At night the lights from the houses splatter the hills and reflect onto the smooth, glassy night water, making it hard to tell stars from houses.

Right now, I pull my chequered coat around me close, and my eyes rove the ground for treasure; a coin, a rusty bottle cap, a forgotten necklace. My parents call me a magpie.

I'm walking down the path that I have run, chased, stomped on, so many times before. I know these streets as well as the workers from the old shipyards would have done. The floral lane is my favourite part of the route to the beach where the footpath is surrounded on one side by a short bush of deep pink blossoms, spring smelling daffodils, a kind of slimy sappy shrub with long leaves and fragrant rose bushes of every kind.

The pavement looks like a patchwork of different types of stone, concrete and manholes, matched together in a sort of roughly walkable surface. The stubby garden walls on either side are crammed with sandstone bricks worn from years of age. The pavement is littered with the petals of blossoms and leaves of trees, blanketing the ground; a clear reminder of spring, finally spring.

Throughout the floral lane, there are a couple small sandstone stairs that runs over to the other side of the road, and that take you down the slippery concrete hill, which then leads over to the beach. I have to grab onto a side rail that follows the path, and swing myself into the tiny alley to avoid slipping down, which I once did and my knees had prickly scabs for days.

This beach is not for swimming. This beach is not for surfing, sun baking or sandcastles. This beach, from the dirty, muddy sand, to the winds that whip the dark water into frothy white horses that prance over the surface, from the old forgotten boats that lie here, is for exploring. It is for finding your way through the maze of rusty boats and crumbling wooden huts and water that is as cold as the winds that buffet your frosty face.

The sand is filthy, from a century of muck, and the water, washing into the bays, eating away the cliffs, throwing around the boats, is only a bit less so. It flows from the River Derwent. Its water is mixed with the toxins and oil from the zinc works that have come from two centuries of metal industries upstream. But it's still fiercely beautiful. The water still turns all manner of breathtaking shades of blue. Rubbish is not common, and I wish it could be like that everywhere, but we'll work towards it.

I run my fingers through the icy water, coldness shooting up my fingertips.

Boats still sail around the water. This place used to be a busy rushing suburb, full of workers and shipyards, where people used to dump their rubbish. People don't do that anymore. They haven't in a long time. The huge dip in the ground up the hill from the water is beautiful to me, the two steep slopes on either side are full of rich, fresh, slippery and dewy grass as long as my head, sprinkled with flowers in spring, and in the middle a giant sheet of metal with huge numbers indented in them.

I kneel, examining the dark sand, and flick over a couple shards of white pottery, left over from those rubbishdumps and lunches of the workers that worked here. Pieces of glass, seaweed, pottery and bricks lie in rows along the waterline of the beach, a perfect place for searching for treasure. I run my hands across sand until I find a shard of sea glass, rounded with age after years of being tossed through the rough waves.

I stand, and tuck my treasure into my coat. I promise to the harsh wind and frothing tide, "I promise, one day we can fix this. We will clean your water, mend your hills." The breeze whispers a silent word, then I turn and head back up the path.

Highly Commended
Year 5 & 6 Category
Vaggelis, Middle Ridge State School (QLD)

The Story of Time

A mighty Blue Gum am I. My everlasting foliage gives shelter to the inhabitants below, from both the glaring sun and pouring rain. Long ago, when I was a sapling, the other trees told me stories. The old eucalyptus had the best of them all; thrilling tales of fires, floods, cyclonic winds and never-ending droughts… and a story the trees have passed down for millennia. This story had travelled from very far away, over the range to the distant mountains the ancient Bunyas called home. The story went a bit like this…

Long ago, when the world was young, and the trees, birds, lizards and

kangaroos were more or less alone in the world, came a creature on two

legs. It made tools out of sticks, stones and twine and hunted like no other

being to walk the Earth. Slowly, yet surely, its numbers grew. It made

strange sounds, unlike those of the birds or other animals - a language

all to themselves. These creatures… were humans.

As different as these humans were, they nurtured and gave back to the land, tending to the plants and animals.


Silence. The munching of flying foxes is the only sound in the inky darkness of the night… then trampling. Large animals with hard feet march across the earth, flattening everything in their path. On their backs sit different looking humans who talk in a strange language, one I’ve never heard in all my life. They set up some shelter, talk among themselves, light a fire and cook slabs of meat over it. In the following months, they relentlessly cut down tree after tree, all of whom I had once called friends. I do not know why they spared me the cold harsh blade, nor do I think I will ever know.

Time ticked on…

More hard-footed creatures came, and with them some unfamiliar saplings. I tried to be friendly to these newcomers. As the years passed by, I started to care for them. Eventually I learned that they came from the species, Camphor Laurel. Over time, the humans cleared the land around me and made large flat strips of dirt on which to ride their creatures. As the years passed by they made buildings and then, on one fateful day, many short humans arrived, some on foot and others riding. In a strange cycle of daily repetition they arranged themselves in straight lines, filed into the buildings for ‘classes’, came tumbling out to eat, play and climb on me, and re-entered the buildings for more ‘classes’ before finally leaving for the day.

Time ticked on…

I am a Camphor Laurel, one of several here. Once a year our scented foliage falls, floating from the tops of our far-reaching branches to be crunched by small feet. When I was a sapling, there was an old gum tree who looked after us. Sadly, he was chopped down and used for fencing a while ago. Our routine continued for many years until one day a cloud of sorrow descended on our school. Every so often, a tearful mother came and took her child by the hand, while in the other she clutched a telegram – the harbinger of tragedy. As numbers of students and teachers dwindled, the sadness grew like a thriving vine on a decrepit building. This continued for several years until finally, on one day, the war came to an end. I remember people hugging each other and crying in the streets. And as the school regained its numbers, a new sapling was planted, by the name of Jacaranda, to commemorate the loss and misfortune which had touched us all.

Time ticked on…

I’m a Jacaranda. At the end of spring, my purple flowers cascade down, carpeting the ground below as new leaves emerge. As I peered over the tops of buildings, awaiting the children’s arrival, I saw only the few Camphor Laurels still remaining, standing strong despite their years. The school was deserted - utterly deserted. Waiting for everyone to return, the minutes became hours, and the hours, days. It seemed that my world had turned upside down. But on one happy day everyone returned, with some now wearing masks. With everything as it was, we continued moving forward towards a brighter future.

As both trees and people come and go, connections between them arise, even where you think there are none. And, as many things change, some will always stay the same.

Highly Commended
Year 5 & 6 Category
Tien Ern, Townsville Grammar School (QLD)

My Place

The gnarly eucalyptus arched its papery white body to the surface of the river, as if reaching into the cool, crystal-clear water for a refreshing drink. Perched on a white branch was a kookaburra, showing off its feathery brown waistcoat with streaks of electric blue. With its beautiful black wings dramatically spread open, a cormorant basked in the sun on a twisted piece of driftwood, posing like a statue.

Scattered on the riverbank were treasure troves of emerald-green lily leaves. Water droplets rolled on the lily pads, glimmering like pearls in the morning sun. The most explosively pink flowers stood proudly on tall, slender stalks. And, in a matter of weeks, the petals drifted gracefully into the river, leaving a mature brown pod of seeds that resembled a shower head. Life went on and on.

A stone’s throw away from the river was our home. The sun filtered through the vivid green canopy, casting its buttery mellow light on the carpet of fallen auburn leaves. Every morning we’d wake up to birdsong, and the chorus of crickets would lull us to sleep. Year after year, this had been our place.

When the sky was still pastel pink and orange, I was safely nestled in Mum’s pouch, as she bounded to the river. The moist morning breeze riffled through my coarse brown fur. We snacked on the luscious green grass that lined the riverbanks, and sipped from the cool, pristine river. Ibises greeted us politely, as they dipped their long, thin beaks into the water. Jacanas, light and small, tiptoed daintily on lily leaves.

But, our heaven shattered. The gigantic four-wheel monsters invaded our home. They were enormous, bright yellow savage things that rampaged near our grazing land. Every day, for endless weeks, everyone in our neighbourhood mournfully watched the monsters tore down our land, and ungratefully discarded our grass and dirt in huge messy piles.

The land which we once knew turned into a looming white building. A noisy bunch of two-legged beasts moved into the building, bringing more four-wheel monsters that spat out exhaust fumes while they raced on the road. The beasts cranked up their music nightly until our ears ached. The worst was when the ambient air was already sweltering in summer, their air conditioners blasted burning air outside. We had nowhere to hide from the heat, in that land of ours.

‘Joey,’ Mum said, as the summer sky woke from its inky blue sleep, ‘We will not go to the river.’

I stared into her eyes, incredulously. But, deep in the bottom of my forlorn heart, I knew that ever since the two-legged beasts arrived, monsters would roar ear-splittingly across the water, and violent waves and bubbling white foam would engulf the usually still, glass-like surface.

‘Why?’ My voice was a trembling whisper. Though I knew the answer, my longing to visit the river compelled me to ask.

‘Promise me, Joey, that you won’t die like Bouncer did,’ Mum’s voice was almost an inaudible breath.

An unnerving silence settled between us, as a flashback of the blue monster, cruelly ramming its wheels onto poor Bouncer’s body tormented me deep into the bone. The savage four-wheeled thing heartlessly rolled over him. Bouncer’s agonising screech was compressed into a distressing moan by the giant wheels. Crimson red flooded the road that day, and my cousin’s heart beat no more.

Gripping tightly to Mum’s hand, I peered into her wet eyes, searching for a path back to the place that I was familiar with.

For endless summer days, we picked at the wilted undergrowth on the debris-covered forest floor. My legs burned with desire to hop across the road to savour the cool crystal-clear water. Thirst clawed at my parched throat, which begged constantly for the lovely river.

The wind whispered eerily through the wood that night. With a cautious glance at Mum, who was snoring, I crept to the shoulder of the road. The kerbside boasted enticing puddles, which were nowhere as clean as the refreshing river water, but promised to banish my perturbing thirst. The puddles gleamed like enchanted lakes in the silvery moonlight. Bending down, I took a sip. The long-missed taste of water exploded in my mouth, and, closing my eyes, I savoured the contentment.

Suddenly, a pair of blinding lights flashed, followed by the most indescribably heart-wrenching pain. My past and present were all torn to pieces. Instantly, my time stopped.

Where was my place in this fast-changing world? Where did I belong?

1st Prize
Year 7 & 8 Category
Zamina, Albert Park College (VIC)

New Baggage

The road moves sluggishly this morning, for no personage has yet deigned to brave the sullen fog that still lingers from the night before; a wakeless reminder of the events that transpired just hours earlier. Time moves slowly in New Baggage - as though through tar, the hours dragged past; pulling at the faces of the citizens until they acquired the heavy, world weary countenance that they were, at this point, so well-known for in their little bubble. Even the children looked as though they had lived lifetimes more than their age.

I was free from this human trait today- nevertheless, this is not to say that I would not age and tear in the years to come, no. I would crack, and fade, and rip just like all things on this earth, living or inanimate, because that is just the way things work. They change, and not even me, the woods surrounding New Baggage, were exempt from that quick passing of the decades.

Do not suppose, though, that New Baggage changes in the way you might be accustomed to.

A small girl skips across the northern end of the town, pulling on my branches as she goes with a small pink umbrella. She does this every morning, and the little routine has become something that I greatly enjoy. This spot in my woods has a cluster of small fir trees, which have not grown an inch in the years I have been here; So small, in fact, that the girl can reach her fingers to the very top of one, without much effort. She loves my trees. Every morning, despite the ever present fog, she discovers them anew, with a short cry of joy. In a place where even the day is never ending, immeasurable, it must be good to find something your own age.

In New Baggage, it has been the 21st of July for over 3000 years. It exists outside of time itself, so maybe even longer. Citizens come and go, populations wax and wane, and scientists line up in the hundreds to study the phenomenon, only to forget why they were there the next day. Only the town itself remains a constant. The post office has been painted red, the houses are blue. The lawn is 5.5cm long. It is sunny, with a chance of rain. It is freezing at night. It is always, always foggy in the morning. These are the things which help the people of baggage run smoothly, with no unnatural complications – For, despite the length of time, none of them realise that they are not in fact 3 years old, but 40 – none of them notice that their hair isn’t growing, that their cuts don’t heal, and that their phone line is always cut off. Some might begin to notice in the evening, when the air is still clear, and their minds free of fog – but as soon as the clock strikes twelve, so to speak, the slipper is dropped, and they find themselves walking away from the highway exit, from me, and back towards the familiarity of home.

Not many of them like me here, in their ordered little town. I think I scare them- my dense trees, twisting branches. I am the unknown, the immune. I am the awake.

The buildings hate me more than the people. They are jealous, you see- they don’t like me stealing their little games away, oh no! They like the routine, the repetitiveness of what they built, and they want to keep it that way. They hate me so much that I have burn marks every night in my wood from where the hatred and fear went a little too far, and cut into me – with torches, the people come at evening time, trying to clear me from their borders. It is not so strange to fear me, the unknown- when you exist in a constant state, it can be hard to believe that there is anything else out there. The buildings, they do try to console the people but brick and mortar only goes so far, and this is why, as I said, hundreds of them gather at the town exit each night.

Sometimes I wish they’d let me be washed anew, a blank mind and empty branches each morning, because it’s just as hard to be so immeasurably aware of everything, and yet so very ignorant! Why, my tallest tree must stand hundreds of feet up in the air, and yet I still cannot feel the sky, or the clouds, even; the fog numbs my leaves and my critters. The very air in this town feels tired – what should be rushing winds and endless blue skies is still and heavy in your lungs. It sits there, complacent, until you start to think- then it crawls into your mind, nestling into all the nooks and crannies, worming its way through everything clear and pretty.

I feel a spark near my borders – the burning has begun, with torches and stakes. A crowd of little girls, with weapons in hand, watch with fire-lit faces as an elm falls, crushing a small family of birds that were nesting in my branches. Why, it’s as though I am on trial – for what crime, I do not remember.

Did I go somewhere I shouldn’t?

The girls do not respond – silent, shadowed judges that they are. The sun around me begins to set, and the rest of New Baggage slithers back into the manors clustered around the post office. A few poor souls are hurriedly packing their bags, rushing to the highway. They will not make it. They don’t even really want to leave – after all, every night they come back, content and complacent as ever. Even I start to realise – Am I really that discontented? Do I really despise the familiar?

The failed escapees leave their cars out on the road, still and empty; so, the road moves sluggishly this morning, for no personage has yet deigned to brave the sullen fog that still lingers from the night before.

2nd Prize
Year 7 & 8 Category
Noah, Trinity Anglican School (QLD)

Cassowary Diaries

Prologue –

When I wake in the morning, under my favourite gum I usually go for a short walk around my territory to make sure there are no intruders. Today, however, I became interested in a grinding sound coming from the northeast corner of my land. Reaching the source of the sound, I sighted some animals on two legs, waddling around with metal tools. They were wearing clothes and sported funny hats. Some were clearing trees and others were putting thin metal strips all over the ground. I thought it was peculiar at first sight, but then I realised they were chopping down my plum trees that have been my only staple for years.

I ploughed into one of the food-robbers and raised my claws to strike the evildoer. Before I could continue my conquest, another of their kind through a rock at me. The cheek! How dare they ruin my property like this! Thankfully the rock missed me, and I fled into the bushes. I would have to leave before they viciously murdered me and cut down my shelter, my home.

Since my grandfather had come here 25 years ago my family had been thriving. In the morning my father would take us plum-pecking, and in the evening, we would listen to stories he told, under the warmth of my mother’s fluffy down. The tales were passed down from my grandfather, about the men who tried to kill him and his arduous journey down the mountain. My sister and I, both adventurous chicks, explored the forest, day, and night, but we never crossed the boundaries. That was a family rule. On one side of the boundary was a big building where little humans rushed around carrying bags, on another side was a road, and the third side comprised a growing housing estate. My family was worried that the houses would be extended to the forest, although nothing had happened yet. But it was only a matter of time.

When I woke up one morning, I realised my family had disappeared. Surely, they wouldn’t have gone foraging without me? I stretched my neck and began searching for them. Reaching the end of the forest, I glimpsed a barbed fence surrounding it. I saw my family!

“Mum!” I exclaimed. My parents swivelled their necks and came to me in joy and relief.

“Thank goodness you are here. Humans are planning to build here, we cannot escape”, my mother voiced her thoughts anxiously.

Suddenly, two humans, one smaller than the other, jumped over the fence. My parents scraped their claws against the ground to warn the humans.

“Look at these amazing birds!” the man said. “It is such a shame these birds will perish when the rest of the development is built.” His words sent shivers down my spine.

“We have to do something about it!” the girl pleaded with her father.

“I will see what I can do” he replied softly.

The next day orange ribbons attached to trees appeared in the forest. It was gloomy, my family and I were hoping for the man and his daughter would come to save us from our seemingly unavoidable fate. Soon, the man arrived alone in a truck. Noticing us, he jumped out of the truck holding a sharp knife. He used it to cut the fence, before tucking it away.

“If you want to save yourselves jump in the truck, otherwise stay here and die,” the man laughed grimly. My mother, leading the way, made sure we had boarded the human luxury. However, my father, after making sure we were all on, stepped back.

“I need to defend our land” my father croaked. “Humans can’t always get their own way.”

We watched our father as the truck sped away, leaving a trail of dust behind it.

1 Year Later –

The little girl opened the door and stepped outside, looking at me with a gentle smile. She tickled my head and offered me a bite of a medium-sized green fruit. The flesh tasted sweet and tangy at the same time. She said the flavoursome fruit was an ‘apple’. I scanned the extensive garden of the girl and her father, observing the plum trees that they had generously planted. I pecked her hand affectionately and strutted over to join my family. Apart from losing our father, my mum, sister, and I were living life to its fullest.


Epilogue –

A teenage girl with blonde, flowing hair emerged from the house. Two adult cassowaries and four chicks were nesting on the grass.

“Good News!”, she exclaimed. “The housing estate was cancelled. It is not safe for you to return there yet; it is still littered with human rubbish. We can rehabilitate you for a couple of months.”

3rd Prize
Year 7 & 8 Category
Max, The Hutchins School (TAS)

The Troll, the Tractor and the Stack of Wood

There have been many stories of the troll who lived in the woods near the school. In fact, each child would have had their own way of telling it. The teachers who had taught at the school for years, often whispered about a mean, smelly troll who lived under a rotting, rickety bridge in the woods. This story however was never believed, as it was extremely reminiscent of Three Billy Goats Gruff (a story all the children knew to be, well just a story).

The Tale however, of The Troll, The Tractor and the stack of Wood was always rumoured to be true. It has been passed down for years, and no one knows how it came about, but the evidence stands strong. 

The kids would have you know, that if you ventured deep into the forest next to the school, you would find, amid an empty, mysterious clearing, a lonely tractor, and a stack of wood. No one had ever seen the tractor being driven, but in the mornings, when the children walked through the forest to school, there were always a fresh track of tire marks in the dirt leading off into the distance.

The story goes that the tractor is owned by a troll. The troll is said to only have ever been seen in the very early morning, driving his tractor to collect more wood for his stack. Occasionally you may hear the faint rumbling of the tractor engine. But why would anyone go into the haunted woods in the night to see if it was real.

Unfortunately, a short boy named Tommy Mclean, who lived not far from the school did that exact thing. He was lying in his soft, pillowy bed one night, half asleep when he heard a quiet rumbling from outside his open window. He assumed it was a fly, but as the sound got louder his eyes flicked open and he dragged himself over to the window to see for himself. Immediately the chilly breeze hit his freckled face. His hair brushed back as he looked around for the fly. It was nowhere to be seen. Of course, it was pitch black and a fly wouldn't stand out much in the nights sky, but now he was here and not in his bed he could hear the sound was coming from way off in the woods. As he squinted, he could see a distant light hovering over a small patch in the forest, where the noise was coming from. It wasn't a strong light. Maybe something that would come from a car. That would explain the rumbling. It was the rumbling of a car engine.

But why on Earth would anyone be driving their car around at this time in the morning?

As curious as Tommy was, the crazy thought of wandering into the forest at night to see what was going on seemed stupid so he hopped back into bed and closed his eyes.

Then his heart jumped. His whole body seemed to be ice cold and frozen. The tractor. It dawned on Tommy that the car in the woods may not have been a car but the creepy tractor that all the kids talked about, and the crazy person driving it may have just been, the troll! The thoughts of him coming back to school the next day, being able to tell his whole class he saw the troll seemed incredible. Suddenly the swelling fears in his stomach were overcome by his curiosity and excitement. The next minute he was out of his bed, quickly putting on his dressing gown and jumping silently out of the open window, letting the darkness swallow him ...

Pushing against the cold wind, Tommy ran down the path he usually took to school. All he had grabbed on the way out, apart from his dressing gown, which was now flying in the wind, was a torch and a small, rusty pocketknife. Both were held high, ready for anything to pop out from behind the thick, bushy trees.

Finally, Tommy arrived in the clearing. Not far in front of him was the tractor he had heard from his bedroom, no longer rumbling. Tommy moved his glance slightly left and saw a moving figure hunched over.


Petrified, Tommy looked down at his feet. He had stepped in a pile of dried leaves. Then he looked up. The figure straightened themself, standing up at their full height. They were enormous. The figure was slowly turning around. They were standing face to face now. It was the troll. Yellowed eyed and hairy. Tommy was breathing very fast now. Almost hyperventilating. Then, Tommy fainted. Tommy was picked up by the trolls soft hands, carried through the open window of his bedroom, and placed comfortably in his warm bed ...

Highly Commended
Year 7 & 8 Category
Bharathi, Brisbane Grammar School (QLD)

Leaving Bargara

Bargara. The home of tranquil shores and radiant sunshine. A place to call “home”.

Every morning, the fiery sun would peer in through the chink in the curtains and flash its ambience upon my face.

“Good morning, Bargara” I called out. As soon as I had lapped up all of my cereal, I snapped my helmet on and carefully wheeled my bike out of the narrow doorway. As soon as I pulled it out onto the steep driveway, I rested my bottom on the seat and gently lifted my feet off the ground. And ZOOM! I was off. The fresh breeze swept past my face, and the warmth of the sun blanketed across my back. Every now and then, I showed off my biking skills and rested my hands at the back of my head. I’ve been noticing that a new house would finish being built every day that I rode my bike past the streets. Then came the sharp left turn. It usually wouldn’t be a problem, except I was zipping across the path like a rocket. SCREECH! My tires spitting sparks. Then the bike came to a halt. Then I was back on track like nothing happened.

After a solid 7 minutes of pedalling along an uneven path, I set foot on Kelly’s Beach. The sky was painted with rosy oranges, crimsons, and golds, all the warm colours of the rainbow. Seagulls soaring high across the edge of the sea, and Kookaburras cackling from gumtrees. Waves roaring and glimmering in the dim light emanating from the fiery ball of gas on the horizon. And of course, a pesky magpie. Its black and white feathers and pointy beak gave me the chills. Despite that, it has always fascinated me how it majestically glides with its feet tucked into its body. But no matter how fascinating it was, I still had to race the swooper home.

I kicked the pedal, and hastily darted back onto the rocky path. CAW! CAW! Sweat scratched the surface of my face, my heart plummeted against my rib cage like a vaulter’s pole. CAW! CAW! It was getting closer every second. So much blood rushed to my face that I was about to burst into trillions of microscopic flakes. Then came the turn. SCREECH! The tires of my bike skidded across the gravel trail. CAW! CAW! Caw… The swooper was gone. Each caw turning into a distant screak. I noticed that one of its detached feathers was still floating, rocking from side to side like a baby’s cradle. I cusped my hands under it, and it gently landed on my palms. I slid it into my right pocket. Then after that, all I could hear was the wind, my breath, and my heart. I leant my two-wheeler against a fence, then I laid down on the toasted concrete. My arms spread out. My breath and heart quietened. I could only just hear the waves crashing in the distance. It was stunning. I had just escaped a swooper. Now what?

I would come back from my exhilarating journey every morning to hear Amma singsong the exact same phrase:

“Welcome home!” Except this time, she said something else. “We need to talk”. I sat uncomfortably on the couch, parallel to my mother. Her eyes were drilling a hole into mine. “We’re sending you to a boarding school in Brisbane”. My heart skipped a beat, and the whole house suddenly went as quiet as a mouse.

“But…but why?” I shuddered.

“It’s a great opportunity” she replied sternly.

“But –” and before I could say anything further, she said

“No buts. You are going to boarding school”.

I lay down on my bed; my eyes fixed on the ceiling. The words ‘Now what?’ echoed in my head, and after a couple tremendously restless hours, I was able to get at most half a dozen hours of shut eye.

Weeks, if not months went by, until it was the day to pack. At 5 in the morning, I was delving through shelves high and low. I shovelled clothes and valuables into my enormous suitcase. I was doubting how I would carry it around. But then something caught my eye. Contrasting in monochromatic colours, the magpie’s plume atop my highest shelf. I passionately held it close to my heart for ten whole seconds, then I carefully dropped it into my suitcase and watched as it serenely swayed from the left to the right, then to the left again. I tucked into a tight ball and treasured my last moments in this homely town.

“The car’s started, hurry up!” yelled Appa. I zipped my suitcase leisurely and dragged it into the car boot. I sluggishly slumped onto the passenger seat.

“Come on, we haven’t got all day!” he exclaimed. I slammed the car door shut and opened the window. I laid my elbow on the door and investigated every detail of my surroundings as the car bounced off the edge of driveway.

We were off. There was no turning back. Then I realised that we were taking the same old route that I’d take on my bike. Past the streets which was more like a neighbourhood now, right into the sharp left turn, the car almost toppling onto its right side, then through the bumpy road, and there it was. Kelly’s Beach. We were driving right past it. A tear rolled down my round cheek. The sky was painted with rosy oranges, crimsons, and golds, all the warm colours of the rainbow. And the fiery ball of gas on the horizon was glowing at me, something I would never see in a cityscape, almost like it was saying goodbye.

“Goodbye, Bargara…” I whispered. Appa gave me a subtle smooch to comfort me, then my face flooded with tears. A large portion of my brain was still being bombarded with the same question, one I never think I will answer. Now what?

Highly Commended
Year 7 & 8 Category
Joy, Kalamunda Senior High School (WA)

Diary of a Stirk

16th January 1881

Pa told us that he has bought 15 acres of land for us to live on, although when I asked him if there was a house for us to move into he only smiled and said, “No, we’re going to build one.”

18th February 1881

Me, Ma, Pa, Henry, John, Mary and baby Emma are staying in a tent while we clear the land. Pa says he's going to name the property Headingley Hill after the cricket ground at his birthplace. (I would’ve named it Jeff myself.) Ma is out helping Pa cut and fall timber. Henry refuses to go near her when she's holding an axe, so I’ve had to be the one to move the cut timber into piles.

17th March 1881

I went out and milked the goats today. I’ve named them Bob, Steve and Allen. (No, they are not male. Also, I don’t care.) Henry, John and Mary were out picking strawberries. They came back with full stomachs and empty baskets. Ma and Pa are still clearing the land, so I’ve been in charge of most of the meals.

19th June 1881

Ma left me with Emma. She says that I’m better at looking after her than the others. I would’ve taken it as a compliment if the others weren’t aged 6 and under.

16th July 1881

Tonight, dinner was wallaby. Personally, I prefer the kangaroo we had last night. I milked the goats again – Bob is doing well, although Allen and Steve seem mad at me about their names. Too bad, because I like Bob, Allen and Steve better then Georgia, Jerry and Jacqueline.

Ma let me help her make the butter for the first time. I think I did pretty well. (We don’t talk about the mess there was afterwards.)

Ma says she's going to start building us a house soon. Hopefully I get my own room.

19th August 1881

Ma sent me to go pick the strawberries this time. The others were supposed to do it, but after Ma found the empty baskets (the result of them picking them last time). She’s said that I’m going to be the one to do it now.

Pa says that Ma is going to have to build the house herself. He says that he's going to be too busy to help. I highly doubt that he won’t help her at all, but she definitely will do most of the work.

17th September 1881

Ma says she's pregnant.

She told Pa when he got back from work. I didn’t see his reaction although Henry said he’d seen Pa and Ma crying together.

I don’t really understand. Why were they upset?

15th October 1881

Ma is almost always working on the house. Now that she's pregnant I've had to help. Henry and Mary spend most of their time playing with Emma and sleeping.

Since he finished clearing the land, Pa is away almost every day at work. Ma says she's using a wattle and daub technique for the walls. I’ve been spending most of my time looking after the others and helping Ma build the walls.

16th December 1881

Mother has finally finished building the house. Sadly, I didn’t get my own room. I spent most of the day helping her move furniture in.

Pa is still out working all the time and often gets home long after the rest of us have gone to bed. Ma says that the boys will have to sleep outside soon because there's not enough room for them in the house.

18th April 1882

I have a new baby sister. She was born a few hours ago. Me and the others weren’t allowed in the room – only Pa and Ma were. She's small and cries a lot.

Ma says her name is going to be Anna. I suggested naming her Eliza, after me, but Pa said that everyone’s name is special and unique to them. I still think she should’ve been named after me.

17th October 1882

Ma is pregnant again. Pa says that we are going to have to move because the house is getting too crowded.

I don’t want to move.

19th August 1883

Pa says the house has been sold to someone named Charles Brook, and that we’re going to be moving to a place called Lindsay Street where me, Henry, John, Mary, Emma, Anna and the child in Ma’s tummy will grow up. I wonder whether anyone will find this diary.

Who will tell my story?

16th August 1890

Seven years later, I go back.

I walk next to the strawberry patches, now wild and overgrown.

I climb the tree that we played so often in.

I walk past the store that Charles Brook opened.

I breath in the fresh air, soak up the sunlight.

And I remember.

1st Prize
Special Education Category
Bonnie, Hollywood Primary School (WA)

That Year

The shiny tides crashed on the rooks on the rooks. The sun is drying the damp grass beneath my feet. Noisy kids were playing as the sun was setting. The sea was getting softer and softer. Now it was night.

At dawn’s first ray of sunlight, there were no signs of life on the beach. Where are the children? One minute goes by, two minutes goes by, three hours goes by. It was like the ocean was abandoned. What is so terrible?

Fear settled on me like a dark fog as I hurried up and down the soft wet sand. Eerily silent, I wondered why the beach was abandoned. My scarf wrapped tightly around my neck. To keep warm, l observed seaweed washing ashore, brown ones, green ones and black ones. One lonely clam hid inside the seaweed. The salty smell of the air caught at the back of my throat. I washed it down with water from my drink bottle.

A figure all in black jogged from behind me. I was startled. The figure was a woman with tears in her eyes. Confused, I asked her what happened. Hot tears spilled out of her eyes when she revealed that Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II just died in her sleep.

Sitting on the cold wet sand, watching the crashing waves, grief built up inside me at the terrible news. I had hopes that she will have a great after life and that the next King will be as lovely as the old Queen. Saddened, I wrote down my thoughts in a letter and let it wash away with the waves to the Queen. This was now a special place between us, a place of importance to the Queen and I.

2nd Prize
Special Education Category
Tayen, Hollywood Primary School (WA)

The Beginning

Once Nedlands Primary School was too far. So a new one was built. The principal was called Miss Myrtle Mason, and she was scared to be the principal because she was a great leader. It was a busy year for the principal. She had a month, and there was a lot to do. Panic rose in her chest as she yawned. She was sacking. The children had a bag of cotton that’s fluffy bandages and dry biscuits.

Miss Myrtle Mason was sirring because there was only 74 children and Miss Myrtle Mason was afraid that was not much children. She had goosebumps and a yearn of busyness. She heard toys, crying and upset.

In 1935, Hollywood had only 74 children and she was so so so scared and she was on the court and she bolted up the stairs to the others and checked the roll and sat quietly thinking about the school. It was bright and l

Dragged down by exhaustion they went down to a green patch of grass and had a shovel to dig a hole or trench and get in there. They were scared until a woman appeared and said “Do not be worried”. Tell them they would be safe, the woman told the kids.

What were the kids feeling now? They had their faces lighting up and they were over the moon and jolly, but still afraid but joyful, and the principal was proud of the kids for being brave. The principal was very very very pleased. So she was not scared or afraid. The principal was so so so jolly and she heard the kids whispering stuff to themselves and she heard the birds rustling. As she breathed a sigh of relief and she was so so so so so so so so so so jolly.

Suddenly the children heard a strange sound far off in the distance. ‘What’s that noise?” asked one of the children as they all looked around. “It sounds like a plane!” “Oh no! Quick! Back in the trench!”

The children and principal scurried back into the trench. The noise grew louder and the earth began to shake. Panic rose in her heart as they squeezed their eyes closed and held their breath. The planes flew overhead. Everyone froze. Time stood still. The sound faded away. Breathing out a sigh of relief, they opened their eyes. They were safe.

Equal 3rd Prize
Special Education Category
Jasmine, Hollywood Primary School (WA)

The Lost Gecko

When I arrived at school it was a warm summer morning. It was World War Two. When I got to class, I got ready for the day. We had been digging trenches for the last few days. It was time for us to have our first air raid practice drill. Five minutes later the siren rang and the drills had started. We lined up and walked down to the trenches. I saw other classes coming to trenches.

Having gotten into the trenches, I realized that Sophia was not with me. I shuffled through silent whispers searching for her. It was 10 minutes before I had found Sophia, she had brought a gecko to school to keep her calm. It was an hour before the drills had ended.

“Figuly,” I muttered under my breath.

It was horrible in there. I never want to go back there in the trenches again.

We went back to class and did our work. When it was lunch, I realized that Bob the gecko was gone. They looked everywhere, they looked in the trees, they looked in the trenches, but they still couldn’t find him. Drenching sweat drops down me as Sophia and I had run all around the school!

“I hope that Bob is okay. If anything happens to him, I will be very miserable”.

“It will be okay, Sophia. It must be okay. It has to be, okay?”

It was two hours before we tracked him down. Bob the gecko was in the headmistress’, Miss Marson’s, office. In the warm sun, everything felt as smooth as silk. They crept silently towards Bob. The two friends heard footsteps coming towards them. Sophia snatched Bob and suddenly Ms Marson stormed in. But she just smiled. They explained the entire story.

Ms Marson said, “This gecko chased a cricket out of my office. I will tell your parents about this wonderful behaviour. Take some chocolate.”

Six minutes later it was time to go home. I told my parents what an amazing day I had.

”I hope you have been behaving,” said Mum.

"Of course she had,” said Dad.

I wonder what I will do tomorrow.

Equal 3rd Prize
Special Education Category
Sonny, Hollywood Primary School (WA)

The Destruction of War

1916 – Everyone was screaming, war was happening, the army marched to fight, we were preparing to be bombed, we thought the Japanese would attack. Just then I saw mum and dad marching to war. Mum as a medic and dad as a soldier. They said ‘’you must stay son, take this bag and shovel go over there with your friend Josef.”

I ran as fast as I could to get away from this horrible place but just then I was stopped by a Japanese soldier. “Grandad, is that you?” asked Ben in confusion. ‘’Come we must get out of here” said grandad. “Let’s go quick. Josef?” “Yes.” “Ow, there you are. Come on, we will be safe here’’ said Ben.

1935 – ‘’Josef, there is a new school. It has just opened. Come on, let us go there. It will be fun.” “Are you scared?” said Ben. ‘’No,” said Josef.

‘’There it is, let us go inside” said Ben but his voice was muffled because he was so nervous. “Let us ask if we can go in the school, come on.” “Excuse me can we go in the school?” “Yes, but how old are you both?” “I am ten.” “And you ten? Ok then let us take you to your classroom, ok.” “Attention students, there are your new classmates. Ow look at the time, it is time for your air raid practice. Come on let us go quickly. This is important.”

Down to the trenches. ‘’Wait for me’’ said Ben. “Is this a drill?” ‘’Yes’’ said Josef then why did the siren. “Attention students, the drill is over room 3. Come on back, let us go, we need to carry on with our test.’’ “Stop’’ said Miss Marten. “Duck.” “Why?” “Just do it.” “Ok, keep your hair on.” “What is that thing looming in the distance? Mum, dad, is that you?” “My son, I cannot believe you survived.” ‘’Attention students, it is time to go and carry on with our lesson in class.’

1938 – ‘’Children, we have some new classmates”, said the teacher. “What are both your names?”, said Ben. Then the bell rang for the end of the day. “What was it like fighting in the war?” said Ben. “Well, it was absolutely horrible, but luckily your mum and I survived.” Thankfully, the war is over, and we do not have to worry about it anymore.

The next day, first thing we did was to go down to the trenches for an air raid practice. I thought to myself, “Why is Josef not here? Ow, there he is. Josef come on, it is time for an air raid practice. Let’s go.” Josef was so worn out he fell asleep. “Josef.” “Ow, I coming, don’t worry, I catch up. “Ow great, you’re here. You would have got detention.” “What?” “Yes, back to class everyone. Come, let’s go back to class. We still haven't finished your test, Ben. “Don’t worry miss, I will finish my test.” “You better do it or else detention.”

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