The West Australian’s Best Australian Yarn, supported by Navitas winner revealed

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The West Australian’s Best Australian Yarn, supported by Navitas winner revealed

Jacqueline MacDonald, a Tasmanian high school teacher has won the $50,000 first prize in the national short story competition, The Best Australian Yarn.


MacDonald, an aspiring writer from Penguin on the Apple Isle’s north coast, took home the prize for her 2,000-word fictional piece Split Life – an eerie exploration of the potential of human cloning in politics. The story wowed competition judges with its range and ambition.

The Best Australian Yarn seeks to uncover creative talent from across the country, providing an opportunity for both published and unpublished writers to share in the world’s richest short story prize pool.

The competition was created by The West Australian and in 2023 has been presented by leading education provider Navitas, and supported by Channel 7, Perth Festival, Writing WA, Department of Education and Premier’s Reading Challenge.

An increased prize pool of $75,000 and two new categories saw entries rise 20% to 5,500 submissions.

The new First Nations Storytelling Prize was won by proud Wiradjuri woman, Sharleigh Crittenden for River Fish, while Harold Legaspi, a Philippines-born, New South Wales resident with Tagalog as his native dialect, took home the new Navitas English as a Second Language Prize for Hero.

The winning stories were shortlisted by the Prize Jury consisting of prize-winning Australian authors, Robert Drewe and Holden Sheppard, acclaimed publishers Terri-ann White and Rachel Bin Salleh and West Australian Newspaper’s Editor in Chief, Anthony De Ceglie.

The Best Australian Yarn is the brainchild of West Australian Newspaper’s Editor in Chief Anthony De Ceglie, who said: “The West Australian and Navitas are proud to continue championing storytelling and literary excellence.

“By inviting entries from amateur and professional writers alike, the competition plays an important role in unearthing exciting new talent and amplifying voices from all corners of Australia.

“I can truly say on behalf of our judging panel that we have been blown away by the quality of this year’s entries which are a testament to the enduring power of the written word.”

Prize Jury judge Terri-ann White said of the winning story: “Split Life impressed me with its ambition and range and stood above the rest of the shortlisted stories. I look forward to seeing this writer flourish with the confidence that this recognition can enable.”

Prize Jury judge Robert Drewe, said: “With short stories you’re waiting for something to detonate. That’s what says you’ve struck a well-told story. It doesn’t have to be tragic, or violent, or overly sentimental and nostalgic, but the reader should feel, even subconsciously, ‘Wow! That strikes a chord, I’ve got something in common with this experience.’ And the winner definitely has the wow factor.

“The vast scope of the stories entered – tales from and about the entire country – further impressed me this year. As I was reading them, I envisaged hundreds of Australians, of all ages and backgrounds, from city students to outback farmers’ wives, bent over their keyboards in the dead of night.”

The West Australian’s Best Australian Yarn, supported by Navitas winner revealed

The winners of the individual categories in The Best Australian Yarn competition were announced on Friday night at a ceremony at WA Museum Boola Bardip:

Overall Winner – $50,000 | ‘Split Life’ Jacqueline MacDonald (TAS)
Runner up – $3,000 | ‘A Highway to Call Home’ Sam Cecins (WA)
Navitas English as a Second Language Winner – $3,000 | ‘Hero’ Harold Legaspi (NSW)
First Nations Storytelling Winner – $3,000 | ‘River Fish’ Sharleigh Crittenden (NSW)
Regional Australia Winner – $3000 | ‘The Expert’ Rachel Van Nierop (WA)
GenWest Youth Winner (12-14)- $1,500 | ‘Orange Slices’ Ruby Burke (NSW)
GenWest Youth Winner (15-18)- $1,500 | ‘School’s Out’ Till O’Callaghan (WA)
Eight shortlisted overall winner finalists – $1,000 each
‘Grey Paint’ Josh Lowe
‘The Pyrocene’ Rebecca Higgie
‘Dorothy’s To-Do List’ Peter Byrne
‘Dog Days’ Keith Johnson
‘Kalabaw’ Cal Guino
‘Red Light Running’ Lily Thomson
‘The Culinarian’ Cameron Rutherford
‘In Whose Hand’ Susan Francis

Voting is now open until 11.59pm WST on 11 December for The Best Australian Yarn’s Reader’s Choice Award, where the most popular story will win $2,000.

A special 64-page edition of The Sunday Times’ STM magazine was published yesterday, which featured five of the most powerful and poignant winning entries, with illustrations by Naomi Craigs.

The top 50 stories can be read at

Entries are currently open for The Best Australian Yarn’s sister competition, The Best Australian Short Film Competition, which has a prize pool of $77,500. More information at