The Best Australian Yarn 2023: The top five original stories that you need to read now

Ross McRae
The Nightly
2 Min Read
The top five stories from The Best Australian Yarn 2023.
The top five stories from The Best Australian Yarn 2023. Credit: Naomi Craigs/The West Australian

Everyone has a story to tell.

That was the aim of The Best Australian Yarn — the world’s richest short story competition — when it launched in February 2022.

Not only is the competition the world’s richest, but it could also take the title of the most popular with over 10,000 original short stories flooding in over the past two years.

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Last year, new major sponsor, leading education provider Navitas, increased the prize pool to $75,000 with the main prize increased to $50,000. Two new categories were also introduced, one for First Nations writers and one those whose first language is not English.

The Best Australian Yarn competition also struck a chord with regional Australia, with almost 40 percent of last year’s competition coming from outside of the nation’s capital cities.

From Cloncurry in Queensland’s outback to Foster in the south of Victoria, to Woodanilling in the heart of WA’s farming country, the stories from around the country showcase the storytelling woven into the rich tapestry of our nation.

The Best Australian Yarn STM cover, by Naomi Craigs.
The top five stories from The Best Australian Yarn 2023. Credit: Naomi Craigs

The hook of the competition is that you don’t have to be published, and you don’t have to pay. All you need is a story to tell.

More than 40 judges worked for months to whittle down the entries before they were delivered to the prize jury, chaired by the editor-in-chief of West Australian Newspapers, Anthony De Ceglie. The jury also included authors Robert Drewe and Holden Sheppard as well as publishers Rachel Bin Salleh and Terri-ann White.

We have compiled five of the best short stories from the competition, all complemented by bespoke illustrations from The Nightly artist Naomi Craigs, ahead of the competition relaunching in May 2024.

Read the top five stories, below:

Split Life

Jacqueline MacDonald’s dystopian story is about a worker who wrestles with doubt as the rich and powerful increasingly clone themselves. The tale was partly inspired by former prime minister Scott Morrison’s secret takeover of ministries during the pandemic.

Grey Paint

An emotive story by Josh Low about a young man who returns to his narrowed-minded home town and the hard-bitten father who refused to accept his teenage son was different.

The Expert

Rachel Van Nierop’s tale about a specialist veterinarian who treats her heartbroken clients with disdain.

Dorothy’s To-Do List

Written by Peter Byrne, it tells the story of a fastidious, older employee who patronised and passed over in her workplace and quietly makes her own arrangements for a comfortable retirement.

The Culinarian

Cameron Rutherford’s graphic exploration of the relationship between creator and consumer in the age of social media.


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