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Short Story Competition uncovers rich regional talent

The region’s outstanding storytellers have been unveiled with Western Downs Regional Council announcing the winners of its Words Out West Short Story Competition.

Toowoomba local Bernadette Whisson has taken out top place for her piece ‘The Rhythm of Small Things’, as part of the competition aimed at celebrating budding writers.

Council Spokesperson for Community and Cultural Development Councillor Kaye Maguire said the competition was about encouraging people to put pen to paper and uncovering fantastic local and regional talent.

“Words Out West: Western Downs Readers & Writers Fest is a novel approach to storytelling, offering various opportunities to inspire and ignite the storyteller in all of us,” Cr Maguire said.

“The short story competition offered a chance for people to write a short fictional story which is no longer than 3,000 words, based around the theme “The Little Things”.

“This gave budding writers an exciting opportunity to flex their skills and win great prizes, with first place being awarded $500 and a ticket to the sold-out Writer’s Retreat at Jimbour House, runner up receiving $300 and third place receiving $150.”

Bernadette’s short story blew the expert judging panel away, describing her work as “at once lyrical and restrained, this is a beautiful and detailed rendering of the rhythm of the natural world”.

Bernadette Whisson said she was surprised and excited to receive first place and a ticket to the Words Out West Writers Retreat.

“I write from time to time for my own pleasure and I sometimes enter a competition or two, and I do a lot of journaling,” Mrs Whisson said.

“When I heard about the competition, I tried to create the possibility of a short story using my journaling and my observations of nature, people, buildings – the things in life you’d normally overlook.”

Runner up was awarded to Boondooma local Lisa Shannon for her piece “All the little things” and third place was awarded to Tara local Ashley Collard for her piece “Peace in Endings”.

Words Out West: Western Downs Readers & Writers Fest will take place from 11 to 14 March, 2021, with four days of events, presentations, and workshops, suiting all ages. Keynote presenters include Jay Laga’aia, Frances Whiting, Nick Earls, Anita Heiss and plenty more.

You can read these winning stories on the Words Out West website.

To book tickets to Words Out West, visit

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Media Contact:

Western Downs Regional Council Media Office 07 4679 4265