Winners announced in the 2017 WA Media Awards

The winners have been announced in the 2017 Western Australian Media Awards at a gala event at the Empire Function Centre on Saturday October 28.

Best Freelance Journalist. Sponsored by the Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance

Winner: Dorothy Henderson, Body of work, Freelance    

Judges comments:

“This set of stories by Dorothy Henderson presents the widest variety of rural life with empathy and an understanding of the land. Through the stories of individuals, the author gives the reader a nuanced insight into the experiences of people, and not through  ‘man on the land’ stereotypes. Henderson clearly likes and respects her interviewees, whether they are commenting comically on an earthquake shock and the solace of sharing the experience on social media, or a mother describing the value of growing market vegetables with her two young sons. Or an inspiring account of land care schemes that leave wildlife in the landscape and crops in the paddock.”

Siriol Kate Giffney 2009 Literary Awards Competition: Commended - Open Poetry


Ripe orange pumpkins bedeck dying vines,

and rich red tomatoes

in the sun, shine.

Small black calves dot paddocks turning green,

white withered stubbles decay

on the cropped land in between.

Morning mist hangs low in the valley

between our home and the sea.

New red green leaves simmer on the mallee.

Still, flowers wilt as the hot sun bites,

the fading summer refusing

the last seasonal rites.

Rosy cheeked children play on still windless mornings,

nights with a chill---

winter’s warning.

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Domestic Correspondence

By Dorothy Henderson

Domestic Correspondence

Dodging bullets and crawling over dusty shrapnel laced terrain were among the visual images that stocked my imagination when I was younger and dreamed of life as a foreign correspondent.

Not that I was particularly interest in writing about wars, but I was keen on the idea of traveling to the world’s “hot spots’ and tilting at the romantic windmills of injustice and poverty…I was sure I would spend time in Africa trailing around after elephants and attacking poachers with the camera as I snapped shots for National Geographic and filed stories for the ABC. Single handedly putting paid to the illegal ivory trade. Saving Indian children from starvation. Writing about abject misery and in doing so obliterating it from the planet.

The years have passed, and my passion for agriculture, one man and (eventually) five children put paid to my plans of a passport laden with exotic visa stamps.

Like it or not, my life has not been that of a foreign correspondent. Instead it has been as a very domesticated reporter that I have earned my living.. Sometimes that living has been subsidized by rural pursuits, and at other times rural pursuits (like the latest venture into horse breeding) have been subsidized by the writing. The two careers coexist quite comfortably.

There have been overseas adventures, and there have been opportunities to interview interesting people, including some of my favourite writers, like Geraldine Brooks and Iris Krasnow, but I have had no regrets about not entering poverty stricken war zones. Instead I have done volunteer work for organisations like Oxfam and Vets Beyond Borders from the relative safety of my own home. Salving the conscience and using the pen to do good, without depriving my husband of a wife or our children of a mother.

And as for the travel. Well, once you have traveled a few times with multiple children, the thought of going to an airport for any other reason than welcoming a guest just does not have the same romantic appeal that it once had.

The closest I have ever got to covering any kind of armed conflict has been as a rural reporter doing a piece about starling control, with APB personnel complete with camouflage gear, explosives and firearms out on a quest to rid “the West” of an invasive avian pest.

Regrets? None. Somewhere, deep down in my soul I still have this notion that I may one day be the oldest every foreign correspondent dispatched by the ABC to some far flung place to cover some dire circumstance, but it is very deep within my soul and covered up by the desire to watch our children grow into adults, and see the trees we have planted bear fruit, time and time again.

I often think of the Italian journalist we met when on a family adventure in California years ago. In a playground by Venice Beach we chatted and laughed about the fact that his camera bag was filled with nappies, and that my camera was trained on our young children. Not a news story in sight.