Stringybark Open Short Story Award 2024


The Stringybark Open Award 2021

Competition Closed:  31 January 2021

242 entries.  $1020 in prizes.

Judges: Jessie Ansons, Dr Rick Williams, Alice Richardson, and David Vernon

Editor: David Vernon

Cover designer: Jonathan Vernon

Layout: Stringybark Publishing

Australian printer: Prinstant, Canberra

Thirty-two clever and engaging short stories feature in this latest anthology from Stringybark Stories. Selected from over 240 entries these winning and highly commended tales are wickedly clever, thought-provoking and a rollicking read. From priestly abuse to mysterious creatures in the Yarra River, this collection is sure to challenge and entertain.

“Dad, what would happen to me if you died?”

Quinn continues the steady motion of the stone against the axe head, round and round and round. His little girl is mesmerised, watching the easy circular motion of his brown and weathered hand, listening to the raspy sound. He stops, spits on the stone and applies it to the axe head once again. The edge is shiny silver and he flicks it like a guitar string with his thumb, testing. “I’m not goin’ to die, kiddo.”

— From “Down the Green Road” by Gabrielle Gardner

The modus operandi was simple: pick your mark, contact, flatter, forget nothing, dance well, make them laugh. Eric had been doing it for years and a quiet word with the Maître D’ ensured that he was at Madge’s table again this evening. Looking his best in jacket and tie he positively oozed pheromones as he slid into the chair beside her.

— From “Birds of a Feather” by Graham D’Elboux

32 published stories. One e-book and printed anthology, The Mirror

Edited by David Vernon, e-book and paperback, Stringybark Publishing,

ISBN: 978-0-6488888-8-8

A$15.95 includes postage within Australia.  Discounts for multiple purchases.  Please enquire for international orders.

Order Paperback

Multiple copy discount

Purchase E-book ($4.95 AUD)




Peta West


The Mirror


Beverley Sweeney


Badge of Courage


Robin Storey


The Pioneers — Julia Archer

Remember… Remember… — Jim Baker

The Final Fleece — Angie Carmichael

Birds of a Feather — Graham D'Elboux

Dead Meat — Marina Deller

Drowning — Odette Des Forges

The Loneliest Creature in Melbourne — Tasha Gacutan

Down the Green Road — Gabrielle Gardner

Unsettled — Chanelle Gosper

Taking Tea with Ben Hall — Jennifer Hoff

The Camellia Garden — Deborah Huff-Horwood

The Long Way Home — Leonie Huggins

His Wife's Voice — Greg Hunt

Albert by the Creek — Marian Matta

Inner-West Story — Georgia Monaghan

What Name Can I Grab? — Aline-Mwezi Niyonsenga

Copyright — Pete Pitman

Under the Skin — Jan Prior

Night Moves — Zachary Pryor

Ecotone — Zachary Pryor

Her Gift was a Lemon Tree — Debbie Ragger

Road Trip — Polly Rose

The Old Dash — John Scholz

Battle Harvest — John Scholz

Grey — Irene Sheehan

Postmark — Rosemary Stride

Nullarbor Home — T.L. Whalan

Freight — T.L. Whalan

Runaways — Hayley Young

I was so impressed by the number of amazing stories I read as part of this competition. The range of concepts, styles and perspectives across the stories made it a thoroughly enjoyable process to go through. The stories that delighted me the most were the ones with engaging storylines, quirky characters and descriptions that drew me into the story and made me forget where I was or what I was doing. But my favourites of all, and you'll see this in each of the winning stories, were those that told the ordinary in an extraordinary way – those that were entirely unique.

Jessie Ansons


Winnowing 240 entries down to a publishable 32 stories is a daunting task, but with the right structure and guidance from our judging guidelines, it is manageable.  Every judge tends to look for something different in a piece of writing. To some judges, clever word use is everything, to others, plot, or characterisation, or wit, or suspense or poetic descriptive passages… So, what am I looking for?  I want stories with purpose. I want stories with a beginning, a middle and an end (not necessarily in that order). I want characters with whom I can empathise. I want realistic scenarios — although if you can paint me a good enough fantasy then I’m happily sucked in. But most of all I want originality. Don’t give me a story about Superman or Hermione Grainger.  Keep 007 stuck in Dr No’s dungeon.  Vampires and zombies make me cold.  “But ah!” I hear you cry. “There is nothing original in the world, it’s all been done before! I shall give up and become a hermit in Thargomindah.”

Well, yes and no. Much has been done before but there is always a new way to do it. A new slant, a new character, a new emotional response… it is the job of the writer to go and find it.  And if you want inspiration?  Just read the marvellous tales dished up to you in this wonderful anthology, The Mirror

David Vernon

Judge and Editor

Stringybark Stories

Judges Comments