Surrounded by the landscapes of our city and the literature they love, contestants and guests from around the country gathered in Shepparton at the weekend.

The 2023 Furphy Literary Award winners were announced on Saturday night and Sunday morning, with a total of more than 200 people attending the two events.

Open Short Story

Over 100 people attended the ceremony, including members of parliament, the 16 shortlisted writers and the Furphy family.

Competitors were asked to write a short story of around 5000 words — 600 writers were up for the challenge, submitting their stories for judging.

After speeches from past winners, City of Greater Shepparton Mayor Shane Sali, judges and more, the top three were announced.

Congratulations: Winner for 2023, Jen Rewell. Photo by Djembe Archibald

Jen Rewell was named the winner for her love story Away to Me.

Rewell was presented with a cheque for $15,000.

Her story will anchor the 2023 Furphy Anthology.

She will also be invited to a residency at La Trobe University to work on her writing.

“It’s a love story, written with a light touch,” judging panel member Anson Cameron said.

“The language is clear, and the author has a close knowledge of the rural world that Joseph Furphy would have recognised and enjoyed.”

All smiles: Eugenie Pusenjak, second place. Photo by Djembe Archibald

Second place was taken by Eugenie Pusenjak for her story The Drey.

She will receive $3000 plus publication in The Furphy Anthology 2023.

“In her 4900 words Ms Pusenjak keeps the telling of the story moving forward at a masterly, varied pace,” the judging panel said.

“She conjures up two generations of the protagonist’s family history, the first generation in a very few fast brush strokes indeed.”

Prize winner: Natalie Vella took home the bronze. Photo by Djembe Archibald

Third prize was awarded to Natalie Vella for her story The Lucky Country.

She won $2000 and publication in The Furphy Anthology 2023.

“This fierce, charming and unsettling story tackles that classic theme in Australian writing: the migrant experience,” the judging panel said.

“It’s also about power, and corruption; about women’s solidarity and friendship, and women’s anger.

“Vella’s Liele hooks the reader from the first lines: there’s no putting it down until we know what’s going to happen to her.”

The Furphy Anthology 2023 will be available in November.

Creatives: Winners of the Furphy Literary Award Junior and Youth competitions were announced on July 30. Photo by Djembe Archibald

Junior and Youth

On Sunday morning, the Junior and Youth Furphy awards were held at Shepparton Library, drawing a similar crowd.

Congratulations to the four winners.

Junior Short Story winner: The Abominable Hairball by Nina Samalca

Youth Short Story winner: Here by Imogen Templeton

Junior Poetry winner: Ode to my Mum’s Spaghetti Bolognese by Milo Rose

Youth Poetry winner: Ravens Bring Lavender by Sharanya Senthil Kumar

To enjoy the winning stories and poems of the 2023 Furphy Literary Award, head to