AustLit logo
Festival Awards for Literature (SA)
Subcategory of Awards Australian Awards
The material on this page is available to AustLit subscribers. If you are a subscriber or are from a subscribing organisation, please log in to gain full access. To explore options for subscribing to this unique teaching, research, and publishing resource for Australian culture and storytelling, please contact us or find out more.


Introduced by the State Government in 1986 and managed by Arts South Australia, the biennial Adelaide Festival Awards for Literature celebrate Australia’s writing culture by offering national and state-based literary prizes. 


    • The Festival Awards for Literature, first begun in 1986 and sponsored through Arts SA by the South Australian Government are held biennially. Winners are announced in Adelaide Writers' Week.
    • Narrower terms were added to the Thesaurus in July 2003 for this group of awards.

Latest Winners / Recipients (also see subcategories)v1097

Year: 2002

winner (Carclew Fellowship) Ruth Starke
inaugural winner (Dymocks Booksellers National Fiction Award) y separately published work icon True History of the Kelly Gang Peter Carey , St Lucia : University of Queensland Press , 2000 Z668312 2000 single work novel historical fiction (taught in 29 units)

'"I lost my own father at 12 yr. of age and know what it is to be raised on lies and silences my dear daughter you are presently too young to understand a word I write but this history is for you and will contain no single lie may I burn in Hell if I speak false."

'In TRUE HISTORY OF THE KELLY GANG, the legendary Ned Kelly speaks for himself, scribbling his narrative on errant scraps of paper in semi-literate but magically descriptive prose as he flees from the police. To his pursuers, Kelly is nothing but a monstrous criminal, a thief and a murderer. To his own people, the lowly class of ordinary Australians, the bushranger is a hero, defying the authority of the English to direct their lives. Indentured by his bootlegger mother to a famous horse thief (who was also her lover), Ned saw his first prison cell at 15 and by the age of 26 had become the most wanted man in the wild colony of Victoria, taking over whole towns and defying the law until he was finally captured and hanged. Here is a classic outlaw tale, made alive by the skill of a great novelist.' (From the publisher's website.)

winner (Barbara Hanrahan Fellowship) Graham Rowlands
winner (National Award for Children's Literature) y separately published work icon Lirael : Daughter of the Clayr Garth Nix , Crows Nest : Allen and Unwin , 2001 Z816641 2001 single work novel young adult fantasy "Dark forces are abroad once more in the Old Kingdom. Lirael, solitary daughter of the Clayr, and Sameth, the reluctant Abhorsen-in-Waiting, both seek the same man who may hold the key to an ancient evil stirring in the West. But the Dead cannot be laid to rest until the strange secret linking the fate of Lirael and Sameth is revealed." (Source: Allen & Unwin)
inaugural winner (National Award for Innovation in Writing) y separately published work icon Tiger's Eye : A Memoir Inga Clendinnen , Melbourne : Text Publishing , 2000 Z282560 2000 selected work autobiography short story prose (taught in 6 units)
winner (The Jill Blewett Playwright's Award for the Development of a Play Script by a SA Emerging Writer) Joshua Tyler
inaugural winner (Award for an Unpublished Manuscript by an Emerging SA Writer) y separately published work icon Ash Rain Black Dream Corrie Hosking , Kent Town : Wakefield Press , 2004 Z1101663 2004 single work novel

'A bushfire in Dell's childhood still haunts her. She dreams up new starts, but her spilling stories cannot over-write the past.

'Evvie dances into Dell's life. She has run as far as she can from her family, but the ocean keeps calling her back.

'Evvie's daughter, Luce, is most at home in the company of creatures. All she wants is her collection of bugs and a guinea pig for Christmas.

'Dell meets Patrick in the pub, but he's going back to Scotland. Her life finally rupturing, Dell follows. She leaves a hole that Evvie and Luce struggle to fill. They must find each other again, without Dell. And Dell must discover how love works half a world away.

'Ash Rain explores the corners and crevices where love can grow in unexpected ways.' (Synopsis)

Title of manuscript The Black Dream changed to Ash Rain on publication.

Year: 2000

winner (National Non-Fiction Award) y separately published work icon The Devil and James McAuley Cassandra Pybus , St Lucia : University of Queensland Press , 1999 Z337532 1999 single work criticism Focuses on McAuley as a 'political ideologist and cold war warrior' rather than as a poet and critic and concentrates on his involvement, during the war, with A. A. Conlon's Directorate of Research and Civil Affairs and, post-war, with the Democratic Labor Party, the Australian Association for Cultural Freedom and the journal Quadrant. Attempts to explain two important forces in McAuley's life - his religious conversion and his passionate opposition to communism - in terms of a profound belief in the devil . Attributes the former to his encounter, in New Guinea, with Catholic Archbishop Alain de Boismenu, whose story of the nun and mystic Marie-Therese Noblet , believed to be possessed by the devil., made a profound impact on McAuley. Views his political stance as that of a Catholic convert who projected 'his own deep personal torment onto the Devil and Communist agents in the service of the Devil'. (Dust-jacket)
winner (National Fiction Award) y separately published work icon Mr Darwin's Shooter Roger McDonald , Milsons Point : Knopf , 1998 Z494491 1998 single work novel historical fiction

'Last century Charles Darwin set out on a voyage in the Beagle that would change forever the way human history was viewed. It was on this voyage that Darwin collected the information that gave birth to his controversial Theory of Evolution.

'This is a novel of scientific discovery, of religious faith, of masters and servants, and of the endless wonder of the natural world. But its greatest triumph is Covington himself, the boy who looked up at the beckoning figure of a yellow-haired Christian in the stained glass window in his boyhood church of Bedford, and sought to follow.

'He leaves Bedford as a lad of 13 and goes to sea with the evangelical sailor John Phipps and becomes one of Phipps' 'lads'. But Phipps' catechising can't repress Covington's passage into manhood, nor prevent him chasing the exotic native maidens of Tierra del Fuego. When next he returns to sea it is to serve on the Beagle.

'Mr Darwin's Shooter re-creates the voyage of the Beagle, where Covington spends time exploring – and collecting specimens – inland. And we travel on to the Galapagos Islands, with their huge turtles and armadillos and remarkable finches. Years later, in Sydney's Watson's Bay in beset middle age, Covington awaits the arrival of the first copy of Darwin's The Origin of Species, which contains the scandalous theory of evolution. What part of his life might be in it? What truths may it contain? How can one man absorb the meaning of Creation?' (Publication summary)

winner (National Children's Literature Award) y separately published work icon Deadly, Unna? Phillip Gwynne , Ringwood : Penguin , 1998 Z517608 1998 single work novel young adult (taught in 20 units)

'"Deadly, unna?" He was always saying that. All the Nungas did, but Dumby more than any of them. Dumby Red and Blacky don't have a lot in common. Dumby's the star of the footy team, he's got a killer smile and the knack with girls, and he's a Nunga. Blacky's a gutless wonder, needs braces, never knows what to say, and he's white. But they're friends... and it could be deadly, unna? This gutsy novel, set in a small coastal town in South Australia is a rites-of-passage story about two boys confronting the depth of racism that exists all around them.'

Source: Publisher's blurb.

Year: 1998

winner (National Children's Award) y separately published work icon The Listmaker Robin Klein , Camberwell : Viking , 1997 Z833902 1997 single work children's fiction children's

'Twelve-year-old Sarah makes lists. It helps her remain in control when her life is on hold. But what sort of life does she want when the choice is between eccentric elderly aunts and her sophisticated glamorous stepmother? A wonderful portrayal of families with all their idiosyncrasies.' (Publication summary)

Year: 1996

winner (Jill Blewett Playwright's Award) Because You are Mine Daniel Keene , 1994 single work drama

Year: 1992

winner (Jill Blewett Playwright's Award) y separately published work icon Bran Nue Dae : A Musical Journey Jimmy Chi , Jimmy Chi (composer), Kuckles (composer), 1990 Sydney Broome : Currency Press Magabala Books , 1991 Z222822 1990 single work musical theatre (taught in 8 units)

The story of Bran Nue Dae concerns Willie, who having been expelled from the missionary school in Perth returns to Broome on the far north coast of Western Australia. Before leaving Perth, however, he finds his Uncle Tadpole and together they make the journey home with a hippie and a German tourist. Willy discovers sex and true love and their adventures end in the revelation that all the principle characters are related to each other. The whole is a celebration of the multi-cultural life of Broome and of the failures by government and church to make the black population assimilate and conform.

Works About this Award

Suburb's Dark Side a Novel Stimulus Deborah Bogle , 2012 single work column
— Appears in: The Advertiser , 7 February 2012; (p. 13)
Miles Pass For Prized Return Deborah Bogle , 2010 single work column
— Appears in: The Advertiser , 4 March 2010; (p. 49)
Tan Takes Premier's Prize Michaela Boland , 2010 single work column
— Appears in: The Australian , 1 March 2010; (p. 16)
Poet on a Roll with Awards in Adelaide Pia Akerman , 2008 single work column
— Appears in: The Australian , 3 March 2008; (p. 6)
Award Winners Angela Bennie , 2008 single work column
— Appears in: The Sydney Morning Herald , 3 March 2008; (p. 16)