The Dorothea Mackellar poetry awards, now in their 34th year, is Australia’s oldest and largest poetry competition for school aged students. Attracting upwards of 10,000 entries per year, the competition is open from March to June each year with an optional theme and is judged by independent literary figures who are appointed every two years.
This year’s theme is I Have Promises To Keep a line from a work by American poet Robert Frost, but it’s optional and students are welcome to go where their imagination takes them.

This year’s judges are James Roy, children’s books author, and Leonie Tyle, a librarian, reviewer, speaker, editor and publisher.

The competition began in the north west NSW town of Gunnedah, where the Mackellar family had rural holdings, and is run by a volunteer committee with a part time project officer. Its aim is to encourage a love of poetry and creative writing among young people and also to promote a love of country.

The awards culminate in a presentation ceremony for which winners and their families are hosted for a country visit with a high profile guest speaker. The ceremony is a signature event in National Literacy and Numeracy Week.
Entry is online at, with Primary level entries also accepted by email.