Skip to content
Books Literature, Entertainment

Strong, pioneering women feature in top five for The Cloncurry Prize Poetry Competition 2023

The Cloncurry Poetry Prize 3 mins read
The winner of The Cloncurry Poetry Prize, one of Australia's richest, has been announced as Penny Lane, with, Remembering Mary


Winner of The Cloncurry Poetry Prize, one of Australia’s richest,  announced as Penny Lane, with, Remembering Mary


Odes to strong, pioneering women have featured in results of one of the country’s richest word fests, The Cloncurry Prize Poetry Competition. Results have been announced with New South Wales poet Penny Lane taking the $10,000 prize with Remembering Mary, a beautifully painted picture of an outback hero worthy of much praise.


Results were announced by the Cloncurry Shire Council Mayor Greg Campbell on the banks of Chinaman Creek Dam at Cloncurry, with poet enthusiasts and locals gathering to celebrate. This year’s theme was Outback Heroes.


Of the top five poems, three honour and acknowledge the role that the women of the land have played in the dramas of outback life. Joining Ms Lane in the top five was:


  • Runner-Up, Tom McIlveen with his poem Heroes of Yesterday


  • 3rd Place, David Campbell with his poem Unsung Heroes


  • Highly Commended, Bronwyn Blake with her poem The Women of the Outback


  • Commended, Barry Desailly with his poem Outback Legend of the Sky


Cloncurry Mayor Greg Campbell said Australia’s cultural signature, and particularly that in the Outback, was inked by the muses of poets.


“There are few that don’t recognise the names Dorothea Mackellar, Banjo Paterson, Henry Lawson, Oodgeroo Noonuccal and even famed modern poet, Rupert McCall, and their spine-tingling odes to Australia’s ‘sweeping plains, ragged mountain ranges, droughts and flooding rains’, it’s fitting therefore, that one of the nation’s richest poetry competitions is staged in one of the nation’s most beautiful Outback towns – Cloncurry.”


He paid tribute to the role of women in forging life in the Outback. “For those who know the Outback and its challenges, these heroic co-workers reflect the history of many of the families of the region through the grandmothers, mothers, aunts and members who have often, from behind the scenes, woven the family and community threads together.”


Winning poet Penny Lane said she was stirred to respond to the theme ‘Outback Heroes’ when she read of the competition in her local newspaper, the Port Stephens Examiner.


“I am particularly interested in exploring the experiences of women in Australia’s history, and recording them in poetry, and the first image of an outback hero that came to my mind was of my husband’s great-great grandmother, Mary Bassett Lane, who migrated to Queensland in 1866, “ she said.


“Three of my great loves are family, poetry and being in the outback, and I was able to combine the three in creating my poem Remembering Mary.”


“Thank you to Cloncurry, and to those involved in running and sponsoring the competition. We poets applaud you.”


“I have a connection to Cloncurry. I married into the Lane family, as did a young woman from nearby Marrabah in 1939. That woman’s daughter is my cousin-in-law and the Lane family historian, Dale, who introduced me to Mary Bassett Lane. Remembering Mary is dedicated to Dale.”




The winning  poem Remembering Mary portrays the strength of a woman of courage and resourcefulness. The outstanding free-verse poem paints vivid, pictorial images with ‘Mary’ brought to life through unusual word combinations, succinct phraseology and skilful use of language. It’s an evocative poem that leaves no doubt as to the stoic, enduring, no-nonsense character of its heroine, but also leaves readers with the sense of her sacrifice of self to survival.


Typifying the struggles of early female pioneers who helped lay the foundations for life today, the character of Mary is a tribute to all those who endured and is symbolic of outback womanhood.


The second placegetter, Heroes of Yesterday, is a beautiful, lyrical poem of rhyme and metre to express, with rhythmic flow, the colours and extremes of the Queensland Outback. Focussing on heroes of exploration, this poem is both relevant to Cloncurry’s past and to the spirit of endurance and resourcefulness that permeates modern outback life.


Third placegetter, Unsung Heroes conveys a wealth of harsh experiences that the women of past eras faced, often as the only adult, rearing children in isolated conditions. The poet has utilised the skills of accurate rhyme and consistent metre flavoured with enjambment to give rhythmic flow to this poignant account of survival. The poem also brings in the inherent beauty of the outback which acts as a salve giving inner strength in times of reflection.


Highly Commended in the 2023 Cloncurry Poetry Prize is The Women of the Outback.  This poem’s strength is in its historical perspective. In relaying stories across four generations of women, it could relate to many of the region’s families who have established roots in the Outback. Immigrating from afar, integrating and learning survival skills from the first nation’s people, going forth into careers to help others who live in isolation, enduring wars... the range of perspectives captures the humanity and honours and appreciates the role that women have played in shaping outback society.


The Top 10 poems from this year’s competition can be found on the Cloncurry Shire Council website.


Contact details:


For more information contact Kath Rose on 0416 291 493 or email


Media Outreach made fast, easy, simple.

Feature your press release on Medianet's News Hub every time you distribute with Medianet. Pay per release or save with a subscription.