February 9, 2020
By Catherine Watson
PHILLIP Island writer and historian Christine Grayden has won first prize in the inaugural Bass Coast Prize for Non-Fiction with Jobs that no longer exist – a memoir.
Her story relates memories of the various physically hard jobs she did as a young woman with her uncle while spending her holidays and weekends on Phillip Island, and later when living there.
Most of these jobs – handline commercial fishing, chicory drying, and collecting kelp and cuttlefish – were traditional on Phillip Island until the 1980s, but they are no longer done, so the memoir is an invaluable historical record as well as being a fascinating story.
The three prize winners were announced by the judges at The Gurdies winery on Sunday. Prizes totalling $10,000 were awarded for first, second and third, along with four special commendations.
Julie Constable won second prize for Pittosporum Flowering, a memoir of an environmental awakening, which alternates the focus from the large scale – the logging of native forests for wood chips – to caring for one’s own little patch.
Malcolm Brodie won third prize for Alzheimer Sufferer/Carer Suite, a collection of 56 poems covering the period from when his mother was first diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease until she died 14 years later.
Special commendations were presented to
The inaugural competition attracted 42 entries from throughout Gippsland, ranging from personal memoir and true adventure through to biography, natural history and local history.
Chief judge and prize sponsor Phyllis Papps said the judges were gratified by the response from writers and impressed by the very high quality of the work submitted.
The other two judges were Bass Coast Post editor Catherine Watson and Waterline News editor Geoff Ellis.
The special guest at the prize giving was Gippsland-born author Don Watson, acclaimed for works including The Bush, Recollections of a Bleeding Heart, American Journey and Weasel Words.
Ms Papps said she would like to keep the Bass Coast Prize for Non-Fiction continuing because of the wonderful response from writers of all ages, in all parts of the Gippsland region.
“Many were superb pieces of non-fiction. Unfortunately not all could be on the short-list or win a prize. But I have the greatest admiration for the 42 writers who had the sensitivity and skills to write and share their stories."
The award winning and commended works will be published in the Bass Coast Post over the next few issues.
The winning entries
Jobs that no longer exist: a memoir by Christine Grayden
Pittosporum Flowering by Julie Constable
Alzheimer Sufferer/Carer Suite by Malcolm Brodie