Catherine Martin Literary Award

Deadline: Friday 1st May 2020 – emailed to [email protected] or delivered in person to Penola Community Library, 43 Cameron Street, Penola SA 5277 by entry closing date.
Entry Fee: Free to enter


  • Entrants aged 10 – 12 years old, 350 – 500 words. Winner $75/ Runner Up $25
  • Entrants aged 13 – 15 years old, 500 – 800 words. Winner $100/Runner Up $50
  • Entrants aged 16 – 18 years old, 800 – 1000 words, Winner $150/ Runner Up $75

Click to Download the Entry Form

  • Maximum TWO entries per person
  • Works are to be a short creative story
  • Entries must be typewritten and be the original work of the entrant.
  • This entry form must accompany the work.
  • Works must have the writer’s name, school, date of birth, contact details and title clearly displayed
  • Entries close Friday 3rd May 2019. Works are to be emailed in Microsoft Word Format to [email protected] or delivered in person to Penola Community Library, 43 Cameron Street, Penola SA 5277 by entry closing date.
  • Winners will be announced as part of the Penola Coonawarra Arts Festival at the Penola Community Library on Saturday 18 May 2019.
  • The Penola Coonawarra Arts Festival Committee reserves the right to display any entry submitted for competitions including on their website –
  • The Penola Coonawarra Arts Festival Committee reserves the right not to display any entry without explanation.
  • The judging panel will consist of, but is not limited to, one local judge and two visiting judges. The judges’ decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into.
  • The work(s) must adhere to the ‘Criteria’ set out below.


This award is motivated by Australian Literature, and Australian themed writing.  It is with this intent that we ask participants’ work to be inspired by ‘Australia’, ‘Australians’ and ‘Australian Life’.


Catherine Edith Macauley Martin née Mackay

Catherine Edith Macauley Martin née Mackay

(1848–1937) was an Australian novelist and poet who published her work anonymously or under pseudonyms such as M. C., Mrs Alick Macleod and Ishbel.

Catherine migrated with her family to South Australia in 1855, settling in Robe and later in Naracoorte.  In the course of her education she acquired a love of German language and literature and by the early 1870s she was helping her sister Mary to run a school at Elm Cottage, Crouch Street, Mount Gambier.

From 1872 Catherine’s poems and translations of German poetry appeared in the Border Watch. As ‘M.C.’ she published The Explorers and Other Poems (1874), which included translations from French and German, as well as a long poem about the Burke and Wills expedition. She moved to Adelaide in about 1875, tried to make a living by journalism and became a friend of author Catherine Spence.  In 1882 she married Frederick Martin, an accountant whose work took them to Waukaringa, a gold mining town in the north of South Australia.

In 1890 she published anonymously the novel, An Australian Girl, which was well received in Australia and reprinted twice the following year. Under the pseudonym ‘Mrs Alick Macleod’, Catherine Martin published another novel The Silent Sea (1892), which drew upon her experience living in a mining town.

In 1906 she published, under the name Ishbel, The Old Roof-Tree, some impressions and thoughts while abroad in the form of letters to her brother. She published, under her own name, The Incredible Journey (1923) which, written very effectively from an Aboriginal woman’s point of view, was about a mother’s desert journey to recover her son, taken by a white man.

Mrs Martin died in Adelaide on 15 March 1937 in her ninetieth year. She was never as well-known as she deserved to be, partly because almost all of her work was published anonymously or under a pseudonym.  An Australian Girl is an interesting book written by a woman of thoughtful and philosophic mind, and The Incredible Journey, with its sympathetic appreciation of the point of view of Indigenous Australians, is among the best books of its kind in Australian literature.

Catherine Martin published essays, stories, poems and serialised novels in the Australian press.  Scattered through her work were many literary references, especially to work by European writers.  She was sympathetic to the situation of both Australia’s Aborigines and the working class poor of large cities in Britain and Germany.  Her female characters were drawn from a feminist point of view, something she shared with her friend Catherine Spence.  Criticism of Catherine Martin’s work has varied, but many have praised her lyrical descriptions of Australian landscape.


  • An Australian Girl (1890)
  • The Silent Sea (1892)
  • The Old Roof Tree (1906)
  • The Incredible Journey (1923)


  • The Explorers and Other Poems (1874)


It is with regret that the Penola Coonawarra Arts Festival Committee has decided to cancel the 2020 Festival – slated to be held from May 14-17 - due to the unprecented situation of COVID-19. The Committee would like to thank the strong local community and business support given in recent months leading up to the Festival through their commitment to event creation, monetary, in-kind and ‘Friends of the Festival’ sponsorship. The Committee also acknowledges the unwavering support of Coonawarra wineries - both with monetary donations and in wine, venues, event creation and volunteer hours – over this, and previous years. The Festival started in its embryonic stages almost 29 years ago, and today has grown to become one of regional Australia’s leading arts events. The Penola Coonawarra Arts Festival ensures the arts thrive in our vibrant community for children, adults, families, the elderly and local organisations. The Committee is committed to working toward the 2021 Penola Coonawarra Arts Festival. Further information please contact Katie Moorhouse on 0419 821 689 or Simon Weston 0408 085 116.

Catherine Martin Literary Award Winners


Cass-Moriarty- Arts Festival 2018

“I highly recommend adding to your calendar”

"Penola is a warm and vibrant community of talented artists, and the Penola Coonawarra Arts Festival celebrates art in all its forms. From the opening night – and the awarding of the John Shaw Neilson Art Acquisition Prize – to the closing ceremonies in the town square, I was embraced and welcomed to every event. From gallery openings to artistic demonstrations, from delicious local produce and tempting vintage wines to enthusiastic young writers and lively musicians, the festival is home to a broad palette of activities and experiences. I was honoured to be involved in judging the Catherine Martin Youth Literary Award, and delighted to participate in the Literary Brunch, hosted by Hollick Estates. Penola is a charming and historic town of original stone cottages and a celebration of life from a bygone era, including the legacy of Mary MacKillop, seamlessly melded with modern influences of music, art and literature. There really is something for everyone. But it is the people that make the difference, and this little community thrives on inclusivity - young and old, alternative and conservative, progressive and traditional. I enjoyed myself immensely and cannot more highly recommend Penola Coonawarra as a festival to add to your calendar. You will not be disappointed."

Cass Moriarty - Author 'The Promise Seed' & 'Parting Words' June 4, 2018

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