2019 My Place Competition

2020 My Place Competition

1st Prize

Year 3 & 4 Category

Chelsea, Woollahra Public School (NSW)


30th March 2020

Dear Diary,

Today was terrible! I was stuck at my place, behind my desk, again, staring at a Google Classroom. I knew if this kept going, I would be bored witless.

Mum has been running around the supermarket like a superhero looking for hand sanitisers and toilet paper! I can't wait for this “pandemic” to be over! No birthday parties, only zoom ones. No new TV series except for the continuous blabber of the anxious news reporter. The same topic every day: ”COVID-19 death toll rises by...”

*****

6th April 2020

Dear Diary,

Today dad had a very important Skype meeting. He found out that his project was cancelled. He no longer had a job. On the contrary, mum has been working long hours on her computer. The bank she works for is inundated with calls for help from people that have lost their job.

My sister and I have decided we won’t ask mum or dad for help with our online homework tasks today.

*****

11th April 2020

Dear Diary,

The thoroughfare in front of our wrought iron entrance gate is filled with mounts of un-stepped autumn leaves. As I sat eagerly, waiting for Uber Eats to deliver our Thai from literally down the road, I couldn’t help feeling like a prisoner. Almost as if I was in jail, behind the iron bars, locking us in, not to see another soul.

*****

19th April 2020

Dear Diary,

Today was Greek Easter and the first time I ever missed out on going to the church on Easter Sunday with Yia Yia and Papou. :( We managed to boil and dye eggs in red and play our traditional game, Tsougrisma, with everyone over Zoom. Papou especially found it amusing that his old time trick of hardening his egg shell by rubbing it on Yia Yia’s hair has worked once again and defeated her egg. This year we decided that there would be a winner in each household. I took the crown in our house and placed my winning, unbroken egg in my favourite spot on the mantelpiece.

*****

24th April 2020

Dear Diary,

This morning, as I was lying down in our living room, I started to wonder if the new family that recently moved in next door had any children. To my surprise, when I turned on my computer, there was an unfamiliar, new Wi-Fi connection labelled ‘Poppy’s Play Room’. I suddenly turned to stare at the common wall on my right which we share with our new neighbour. I wonder how old Poppy is and which school she goes to?

This new found ‘virtual’ friend made my day. Hopefully I get to meet her soon, after this lockdown is over.

*****

30th April 2020

Dear Diary,

It’s as though the coronavirus has been shining a light on the holes in my life and I am on a mission to fill them: I am reading new books, I’ve been watering the withering plants in our courtyard, I’ve been going to morning walks with dad and I’ve even been star gazing at night.

*****

3rd May 2020

Dear Diary,

Today has been splendid! I decided to sit at my desk and journal more often. It is so peaceful in this corner of my room, near the window, as I survey the blue sky. As I slow down to look at each and every cloud, as I slow down to look at the symmetrical, cracked pattern of the remaining autumn leaves, as I slow down to feel the warmth of the shining sun in the midst of shortening days.

I think to myself, even the fastest cheetah doesn’t hurry in nature and manages to fit in hours of bathing in the sun. Suddenly, I begin to wonder if this virus was uniquely designed for me.

Was the coronavirus a lesson to slow down and ‘be’ at my place?

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2nd Prize

Year 3 & 4 Category

Dusty, Booligal Public School (NSW)

“Mud Bashing” 

‘Crunch’, I change the gears into third. It is so wet because we’ve had 93 millimetres. One good thing about Covid isolation was that I could be home when it did rain and that meant mud bashing on the clay pans in my car Jimmy.

I love mud bashing! You get to go as mad as you want but it is not too hard to get bogged or do a drift. One tip is to always have some gravel in a bucket in case you do get bogged. Just put it under the tyres and put the car in first gear and rev it to five.

Today was the day I forgot the gravel.

I was doing donuts in the red mud. Surprisingly you can have lots of traction on a claypan but today when I turned the wheel I slid out of the claypan into black sticky clay. Mud flicks on the windscreen. I can’t really see. It’s soupy and slippery and then my car just sticks. I am stuck, like a fish out of water. I get out of my car. I’ll just call Dad on my iPad, but it’s flat. I will try the radio. No answer. I did tell Mum and Dad where I was going but dad wasn’t listening. I’m on my own, five kilometres from home. I’ll have to get myself out of here.

I live at Boxyards, our farm, with my sister Lily and Mum and Dad. If you went up in a plane my place would look like a green piece of paper with brown dots. New grass is popping through the old dead bushes left from the drought.

Over at the other end of the claypan is some long grass. I pull out two handfuls which cut my hands and put the grass under the back tyres. I rev the hell out of my car but I’m still stuck. I need more grass. Carrying back the second load I notice the grass is moving. I feel something smooth and cold sliding down my hand. I look down. There is a baby brown snake. I hurl the grass across the claypan. My heart is thumping like an elephant charging.

I need a new plan. There is a horse rug in the back of the car so I put it under the back wheels. It’s Cadbury’s, my sister’s horse rug, so I will have to wash it before Lily finds out. I try and move the car, it doesn’t work.

It’s been two hours. I’m starting to get hungry. I wish I had packed the portable gas cooker and some sausages. There is a big saltbush also near the claypan. My mini axe for chopping wood is in the car. I start chopping at the saltbush branches, peeling off the leaves. I hope there isn’t another snake. I pack the branches into tight bundles and shove them under the tyres.

This is my last idea. Otherwise I will have to walk home or wait for Dad because Dad always checks that I’m okay before it gets dark. I get back in the car. I take a deep breath and turn on the car. The car screams as I put my foot flat. I start to move a bit. I pump the accelerator and put it up a gear.

The tyres suddenly grip. I take off. I’m out! Whenever I get bogged I have to pay my friend Georgia a $10 bet every-time. If I don’t pay up, it doubles next time. I guess I’ll have to get some more money off dad!

I head for home.

My name is Dusty and this is My Place.

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3rd Prize

Year 3 & 4 Category

Elijah, Home School (QLD)

“20/20 Vision”

My name is Elijah and I am eight years old. The year is 2020, which makes me think of 20/20 vision. This means perfect vision. Ha! The year so far has been anything but clear, quite the opposite really. But I am beginning to learn a few things that will help me on my journey, my race, as I enjoy my surroundings, and contribute in my place.

Crack, crunch, swoosh! Then quiet. Our land has been through so much in a short space of time. The earth has cracked from the drought, dry, broken. Then came the barging bushfires, crackle, crunch. Next, the floods flashed through, rapid, swoosh. People continued, rushed about their busy lives, some stopped to help those in need. Now as I look around, it is quiet. The land is healing and maybe so are people. Quiet, still.

Covid-19 is the reason for this quiet. Some may describe it more as the reason for the disruption. Covid-19 is an awfully bad contagious virus that has unfortunately taken many lives worldwide. When I list the things that I haven’t been able to do, like music class, sports, visiting family and friends, I remind myself to look for the good things in life and to be thankful for those.

We had to cancel our family holiday because of the border closure. But because of the closures of many workplaces and schools, dad has been home more, and it has been great! My sisters and I are home-schooled anyway, so we were already in the swing of things, but now dad can teach us things too and I love time as a family, I really do. We built a treehouse fort together. It is high up in the poinciana tree. When the wind picks up, her branches and leaves dance and shake the fort, just a little. We have daily walks and get to play with our dog more often. Speaking of which, he ran off the other day. We found him at an old lady’s place. We wouldn’t have known if he didn’t run there that she was lonely. My parents gave our number to her and could now help with groceries when she needed.

I’m happy in my place. I grow many plants, delicious fruits, and vegies. My dad and I built a sprinkler to water our plants. We have a big shed where dad keeps all his tools and even our bikes. My sisters and I decided to donate our produce to our community and my sister made some flowers and jewellery too. It feels good to help.

Restrictions and social distancing rules are beginning to ease, but I hope people have had time to really think in this quiet, about their priorities. I don’t fully understand all that happens or why, and don’t have 20/20 vision on all things. But I know one day, I will. This is 2020, I am grateful for life, my family, love, and my place in Australia.

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Honourable Mention

Year 3 & 4 Category

Charlotte, Woollahra Public School (NSW)

“A Special Friend I Made in the Basement”


Hi, my name is Charlotte. During the pandemic lockdown, my basement became my special place. This was where I met a special friend.

In the far corner of our basement lay an unused, old grand piano, tucked under a dusty piano cover. It had been left to us for safekeeping by its previous owner. My grandpa saw that I had taken an interest in the piano, so he removed its cover. I noticed the piano had a deep crack on its top lid, as if something heavy had landed on it in the past. We opened the lid, and the piano looked like a majestic black swan with a soaring black wing.

It was then I saw that the piano had a name. Stenciled on the front were faded golden letters: K-I-M-B-A-L-L.

My grandpa left me alone with the piano. Under the ancient leather piano seat, I found old piano books and some black-and-white photos of a young girl. Maybe my imagination was running wild that day, but in the twilight inside my basement, I thought I could hear the piano talking to me.

“You look very much like the young girl who used to play with me many years ago”, reminisced Miss Kimball, the piano. “She was my best friend and we always played together. But when she grew up, she moved to London and I never saw her again.”

So I decided to become Miss Kimball’s new friend. For the next six weeks, I did my online schoolwork in the morning and then played with Miss Kimball in the afternoon. Her pedals squeaked and she sang out of tune, but I didn’t mind. When my fingers pushed down on her heavy wooden keys, the notes would thunder around the basement walls. It was heavenly.

One afternoon, Miss Kimball asked me why I was not at school. I told her about the nasty coronavirus lurking outside. Miss Kimball listened while I explained that schools were shut to stop the spread of disease. I didn’t mind being at home, but I was scared.

Miss Kimball told me that she had lived through something similar. Many years ago, during the war, Sydney Harbour had been bombarded by an enemy submarine. “That’s how I got the scar,” she said, pointing to the crack on her top. “A shell landed and exploded on our street. Our roof caved in. All the schools were closed. But we’ll get through this together, you’ll see.”

So we kept playing.

Schools re-opened a few weeks later. Before I returned to school, I convinced mum and dad to get a piano doctor to fix Miss Kimball’s croaky voice and squeaky pedals. But the big dent on her top lid was too difficult to repair. Miss Kimball said she didn’t mind. We helped her move into a room upstairs that was a lot brighter than her previous home. That room has now become my new special place.

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1st Prize

Year 5 & 6 Category

Zenn, Dardanup Primary School (WA)

“THE BAD NEWS”

The words screamed at me, bad news. Lockdown. Skate parks are closed. I’m not happy. No skateboarding, no AFL and no shopping. That’s like no anything. I’m sick of computer games and I’m sick of annoying little brothers. There is nothing to do, not zip, until - my crazy ideas of fun in quarantine.


THE SLIDE

When I was younger, my brother and I got a playset, but not just any playset. It was the MEGA PLAYSET. It had a swing, a bar with handles, a 2 person swing and last but not least.................... A SLIDE!!!

We still have it and I’ll tell you how I used it to cure my boredom. First, I got some ply wood and put it at the end of the slide; secondly, I put on my hardhat - safety second, ply first. I put the tail of my skateboard into dropping in position on the slide and hopped on it. I put pressure on the nose and went in.

Maybe I should’ve moved the pot plants first…


THE ROOF

After my bruised shin healed, quarantine was nowhere near over. I thought of something else to cure my boredom. I grabbed a ladder out of my dad’s shed and leant it against the bigger shed. I made sure it was on the right side where Dad couldn’t see me. Once again, I put down something to land on, except this time it was rubber. I climbed the ladder, finding myself on top of the triangular roof of the shed. I gazed over the side of the ten-metre-tall shed to see something that ruined my day. My dad.

He stared up at me intimidatingly with a frown on his face. Before he could say Jimmy Craig, I prepared myself for launch, hard hat check; skateboard check. I put pressure on the end of my skateboard causing the nose to lead me off the shed.

I braced for impact…


THE STORAGE CRATE

I was sick and tired of bumps and bruises but thought my brother wouldn’t mind a few. My uncle and auntie have a red storage crate outside of their house they never use. I decided to use that crate, turning it into a boredom buster. I told my little brother if he wore his Batman suit, he would be able to fly, like Batman. To be honest, I was just joking, but he didn’t know that.

He thought his Batman suit could make him do anything. He thought he could fly. This was even better than having him swing from tree to tree in his Spiderman suit. I boosted him up onto the top of the crate and got my iPad ready to film.

At the edge of the crate, he said, “I don’t know about this, I’m scared.”

“C mon, you can do it,” I answered in a friendly voice.

He took two steps and on the third, his foot caught on a piece of tin. He fell backwards landing on his back…


THE BUNK BED

Now that I’m grounded, I’m going to do something more appropriate. A few years ago, we got a bunk bed. Not long ago, my brother moved out of my room and got his own room because there was too much arguing over who’s on top bunk. Now I have the whole room to myself and I’m going to make a trick shot. I have a marble tube and I’m going to put it up on the top bunk going down into a cardboard box. In the cardboard box is a hot wheels car and the cardboard box has a hot wheels sized hole in the side. The marble goes down the tube, hits the hot wheels car and the car goes through the hole. It hits a hockey stick, the hockey stick falls and hits a catapult. It catapults the ball towards my stereo turning the music on. Time to try. I drop the ball down the tube. It hits the hot wheels car. It knocks over the hockey stick. The hockey stick hits the catapult and she fires. It overshoots and smashes the window behind.

“OOPS!”


THE GOOD NEWS

It’s been about a week since the window incident and I have good news. SKATEPARKS ARE OPEN AND I’M HAPPY ABOUT IT.

Now I don’t have to sit around and do stupid stuff all day, I can finally do what I want to do.

But to be honest, I’m going to miss the boring days.

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2nd Prize

Year 5 & 6 Category

Dina, Moriah College (NSW)


Nature now wages war against an unsuspecting victim - the human race. It is Saturday night and I am watching images of panic and death beaming into my living room from Italy to England. Now here the numbers of the sick and dying rise as microscopic germs invade and try to conquer.

I run to the balcony and see the beautiful evening unfold before me. For once I am not afraid of the dark. It is triumphant in its beauty and simplicity. Staring into the sky I see stars and the rusty image of a distant Mars.

Then a fruit bat the size of an eagle flies in circles above me and lands on the balcony rail! Is it true? Could his brothers have caused this catastrophe because of their infected blood? The bat stares at me, begging to be understood. His brothers were not responsible for man’s recklessness.

I run inside and snatch an apple from the fruit basket. I place a piece at his feet and he eats it with glee. His wings are like beautiful leather from the markets of Florence; where my father told me stories of seeing some of the finest leather goods on Earth. His talons, mathematically perfect in the moonlight. Yet his teeth are sharp as he munches on the apple, they glint like razors sharpened by mother nature herself.

Then, gone. With two or three flaps he soars into the sky and I sob. I don’t know why? Will they now kill his Chinese brothers or experiment on them? Maybe the fruit bats here will rise up with all the other bats and rescue their family from white lab coats and faceless scientists.

I return inside as my family sit silent. The images of despair flicker on the television. “Hey I just saw this massive bat outside and gave him an apple!” I blurted. All at once they turn in disbelief as if seeing a ghost. All night they had watched reports of bats and laboratories, secret experiments and the world coming to a speedy end.

“Go to your room.” My mother barks.

“Fine.” I snap. Marching off. Suddenly I run to the bookshelf and pull out an old photo album. Flicking and flicking, finally I see the photographs of Chinatown. These were taken when we went for Chinese New Year. The pictures come to life. Deep in my memory are the colourful dancing dragons and leaping acrobats banging on ancient drums and cymbals. The dragons, ten of them swirl on human legs, up and down, as Chinese delicacies are served to the crowds. What colour! Such a spectacle!

Now nothing. Only waiting to see if the world will ever recover. I peek in the hallway then close my door. I dance the dance of the dragon around my room. I am Empress Dina for all to obey! But suddenly the dragon disappears. A tear slowly trickles down my cheek at the thought.

School on Monday. Talking to machines as my three cats stare at me wondering why I am at home and not rushing out the door so they can get up to their daily mischief of clawing the furniture and taunting the dogs. I don’t talk in class any more, I suppose that’s good.

I went to the supermarket last week and for what? Toilet paper! No one trusts each other anymore, everyone keeps to themselves and a warm hug is now a rub of a careless elbow. Everything is now “remote”. Remote learning, working, talking and who knows what’s next! I can’t even go to the doctor unless it's “remote”.

I am at least grateful that my family aren’t remote; that would be unbearable. There are still some great benefits to all of this madness, I am no longer afraid of the dark. More bats come at night and swoop over my head and gulp down some apples.

I still have my memories of the dancing dragons. I hope one day I will travel to China and see the Forbidden City and the Emperor’s Palace when the Chinese bats are no longer the enemy according to many. I don’t believe it.

Most of all I will walk the Chinese wall with a bat on my shoulder laughing and singing as I follow the dragons and clap along. Now there is only one wall, invisible and cruel but overcoming all my fears I will smash it down.

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3rd Prize

Year 5 & 6 Category

Jeremy, Knox Grammar Prep School (NSW)

“A Letter to Grandma (During Covid 19)”

1st June 2020

Dear Grandma,

I’ve really missed you. Sorry we couldn’t visit you on your birthday. Dad says we might accidentally make you sick and can’t risk it. He says you and Grandpa must stay home all the time now. I bet Grandpa hates being told he can’t leave the house. Our lives are certainly different compared to last year. Many people are walking around wearing masks, like out of a science fiction movie. It feels strange not being able to see people's faces. We are washing our hands constantly.

I once imagined what it would be like with no school. Free time, all the time. So, when Mum told me school was closing down, it felt like a dream! Or, so I thought. I didn’t really understand what it all meant at first, just that we were heading into mysterious, unknown times. However, now I realise the seriousness of it all. Listening to the news and adults everywhere talking about it, made me think, this isn’t exciting, it’s frightening. What if someone I know gets sick or even dies from this virus? Then it made me think about you and Grandpa.

Spending so much time at home has definitely had great moments. No more rushing about everywhere after school and on weekends. Ruby, Danny and I have never spent so much time playing together. We’re lucky to have our beautiful, big backyard with huge trees to climb, and leafy corners to explore. I finally taught Danny to climb right to the top of that old oak tree with me. We’re very fortunate, which I didn’t realise until now. We all love riding our bikes, and our skateboards and rollerblades have never had so much use! Spending so much time in the fresh air makes me free, even though I’m not allowed to go anywhere. We’ve enjoyed so many laughs and had a few fights. There has been lots of hide and seek, backyard cricket and endless games of Monopoly. I’ve completed many puzzles, and have discovered that I’m actually pretty good at chess. I would love to go to the movies, or watch the French Open tennis on TV, but like everything else, they have been shut down too.

Home schooling has come with many challenges, as well as new learning experiences. Problems with internet connection have frustrated me beyond belief. However, I’ve become quite the independent learner which has been very rewarding. I’ll be able to teach you all the tricks I’ve learnt, troubleshooting technical problems. We have used the Zoom app for school, which means I can see my teacher and classmates when doing my school work. Zoom has also been a great way to see and talk to my other friends without leaving home.

We are told constantly that we are all going through this together, which is true. Though sometimes, it feels that we aren’t together at all. When Danny and I venture out for a bike ride or a walk, people cross the road to avoid us. There is no eye contact or friendly ‘hello’ like usual. That doesn’t feel like we’re in this together. It seems like everyone is suspicious of each other, watching each other, scared of each other. I think it’s changed the way our community is supposed to feel. I hope it doesn’t feel like this forever, even though I understand that everyone wants to stay protected. Even the park looks miserable and lonely. No one sitting down under the trees on lush, green grass having picnics. No laughter of little kids, being pushed on swings by their mums. No one is riding their bikes and ringing their bells. Not even dog walkers, chatting happily to each other. The trees are almost drooping in sadness from the quiet. It’s a bit eerie.

I miss school. I miss the noise, routine, structure and the sound of my friends laughing and having fun. I miss my classroom, teachers, basketball and soccer. I can’t wait to hear sounds of bells ringing, whistles blowing, and the familiar thump of school bags being slung to the ground. I can’t wait to go back to school, to feel like things are going back to normal. I want to feel safe again. I want everyone to stop talking about the virus. We need life to be normal again, so you and Grandpa can enjoy your walks in the park, and go to the shops without being worried.

I hope the restrictions will be lifted soon, so we can visit you and Grandpa. Please stay safe and healthy.

Love Jeremy

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1st Prize

Year 7 & 8 Category

Ellie, Rose Bay Secondary College (NSW)

“My Place”


An old Victorian proudly watching the park grow,
My room brought to life by colour; posters, books, cds and clothes scattered on the floor
Leading to a balcony watched by the moon
A messy desk covered in books and loose paper
Too green garden, a secret seat behind the tree if you don't mind the bugs
A warm wooden kitchen with too many people in it


Careful routine disguised as chaos
Big black boots, unmatched earrings, neatly tied tie, chipped nail polish
English breakfast tea and toast
My regular seat on the bus - second last on the left
Everyone in various interpretations of the uniform
Leaning against the window even though the vibrations make my head ache
Music pumping through one ear and my best friend’s chatter in the other


Heavy backpacks and eyes
Laptop dead by fifth period
Girls with short skirts and lip gloss
Boys with ridiculous haircuts and too much ego
Every laugh feels like its at you
Every glance feels like a burn
Everything is numbers- Instagram followers, weight, test scores
And I’m not good at maths
Head up, shoulders back, headphones in, look ahead


Circles of smiles and sandwiches at break
Muffled laughs and complicated inside jokes
My various clubs - art, debating, history documentary, percussion
Each a new place where I belong
Not being able to drink in the information fast enough
Feeling like I’m part of something
A hive of people and knowledge


A slow growing swell of trouble
Increasingly worried voices on the news
Coronavirus they call it
Jumping continents eagerly on ships and planes
Blink and another club or sport is closed
A new rule or measure every day
Another thing unavailable in shops
Only a matter of time 'til school is shut
And where will we go from there?


‘See you on the other side’ we call
Smiles that don’t quite reach tired eyes
Goodbye hugs aren’t allowed
Trickling out of the gates for the last time
All the times we’d talked about hating school
Prison with a sentence of 6 years
“Wish we could stay home”
Now home is our prison, who knows how long?
Some say we’ll be back in weeks, others say years


People look different through a laptop,
Voices twisted, faces two dimensional
Backgrounds are bedrooms, studies or kitchens
A whole universe behind a screen
Eyes weary, shoulders hunched, voice unused for hours
The same work so much harder without a friendly face
Dragged down by the silence that familiar music can’t penetrate
Soon, my ears start aching from the constant weight of my headphones


Its worse when lessons are over for the day
Nothing to fill the gaps between
The weeks blending together
No routine or stimulation to break it up
A daze of days
A blur of sanitiser and masked faces
Been at this desk, in this room forever
Crowds long forgotten
Check the date - it's been 2 weeks of isolation


Every advertisement on the radio or TV is the same
We understand this is a trying and difficult time
We are here for you
We are all in this together
And you need us more than ever
Just stay home and wash your hands
All in a sickly sweet, ultra calming voice
But these million dollar corporations can’t possibly know
The feeling of the world ending
Crumbling, collapsing
The way I’m not even sure if I’ll live past twenty
And if I do, will the rest of my life be one of face masks and social distancing?
But I guess reality won’t make much profit
It slowly gets better


I find the box of paints in the loft
The time to learn that song on drums, then play it till I literally have blisters
A short-lived attempt at learning guitar makes them bleed
I lose myself in worlds between pages I’d loved as a child
Spend hours wandering through the flower gardens at my local park
A tin is slowly filling up with magazine clippings - I’ll glue them all when this is over
I run round the park twice a week, feet thumping in time to the music


I figure out video calls, organise a virtual dress up party for some friends
Old friends I haven’t spoken to in ages are ringing
New friends I wouldn’t have spoken to normally are texting
Class group chats are formed and everyone secretly enjoys them, awkward as they may be
I talk to my grandmother on the other side of the world
My sister and I find shared interests again
All brought together by not being together


My new wardrobe consists mostly of trackies, uggs and old baggy jumpers
But some days I feel like wearing the dress from my year 6 graduation and my posh earrings
Sometimes I stay in bed all day, only crawling out to acquire snacks
But others I have creative fuel, painting and drawing 'til my hands are covered in colour
Some days I don’t speak to anyone, barely even my parents
But other days I’m on a call for 6 hours straight
I have freedom, for the first time since I started school 9 years ago
To do whatever I want, and feel however I want to feel!


Like pouring golden syrup, the cases start to slow and rules relax
Pasta and toilet paper are available at shops again
Meetings with one or two friends
School goes back one day a week
We’ve all forgotten how to talk
Eye contact is fleeting and conversations drip unevenly
Hands are dry, cracked, sanitised
1.5 metres feels like miles


Now we are back to school full time
Social distancing markers are peeling off the floor
But there are 'For Lease' signs in so many shops
And bus drivers still dressed like surgeons
Shopkeepers sheltering behind perspex
Warnings in the media everyday not to slack off
So much damage on a larger scale
472,000 deaths worldwide as I am writing this
And I realise we had it easy in Australia.

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2nd Prize

Year 7 & 8 Category

Hannah, Fort Street High School (NSW)

“The Age of Zoom”


The sun is shining, the birds are chirping, but, like always, I sit longingly at the window, watching, waiting, hoping that it will end soon. Hoping that they will find a vaccine, that it will just disappear. Because sometimes it’s overpowering. The loneliness, the yearning for normalcy again. For the routine blur of school, the rush of seeing a cute outfit in the store, the laughter shared among friends. Sometimes I wonder if we will all be alright after this. Or if we all truly will have forgotten how to be human. How to laugh together at something pointless, how to gossip about the newest Instagram influencer, how to empathise with the people who have lost someone. Surrounded by only my own thoughts, it can become too much. And when that happens, I have to remind myself; I am lucky; I have a roof above my head, food in my fridge, a computer to work on, a safe place to call home. And I haven’t felt loss. Nothing I have felt will ever come close to the loss felt by an orphaned child, a childless mother, a broken family. When a child loses a parent, they call them an orphan. But when a parent loses a child, there is no name for it. Because there is no name to describe the pain felt by them, the parents, the ones who have raised, and loved, a child who has been lost along the way. So, I remind myself that I am lucky. Because I am safe. Because I always have been.

Flicking my, now out of control, hair out of my eyes, I spy a family. Two parents and two children, cycling down the street, masks covering their perfect freckled features. Sanitiser hangs from the frames, toilet paper stacked in the basket of the father’s bike, gloved hands wrapped tight around handlebars. As I watch them glide silently out of sight, I can almost hear the laughter, long-gone from the now silent streets. The fact that the world has changed so quickly in only a few months astounds me. The way we have adapted to this new life, changed the way we live to fit the growing death rate, the ever-changing state of terror in the hearts of so many. And yet some of us are content with going on with our lives as though everything is normal. On the news, there are stories told of people going shopping, rushing to beaches, throwing parties that once would have been the highlight of the summer. But now? Now it’s exciting to take the bins out. Just to step outside is a privilege that so many can’t afford to risk. I often find myself shaking my head in silent anger at the idiotic people in the world, the ones blaming a certain race or people for this virus. Because the truth is, that yes, maybe it was manufactured in a Chinese lab. Maybe it was created to destroy the world. But that does not give you a right to attack and harass anyone who looks like they are slightly Chinese. Asia is a huge place, and a lot of the ‘Asian’ Australians, like me, haven’t even been to China. They are just cursed to be constantly discriminated against and pushed around because of who their ancestors are. It is just the same for black people in America. For people like George Floyd. People sentenced to death because of what they look like. Because in so many eyes, they are not seen as human. They are only a threat, and threats must be eliminated by any means necessary. So, I shake my head at those people. At the people who look at me funny when I got on the bus to go to school, the people that paint racist slurs onto walls, onto buildings, telling people to go back to where they came from, not knowing that those people already have. Australia is their home as much as it is mine, as much as it is every Aboriginal’s, as much as it is every white Australian’s. And I stand by what my home is doing to flatten the curve. Because even though they have wronged before, our government stood up, and helped all those who needed helping; they shut down school, businesses, malls, anything that wasn’t essential. My eyes have been opened, during this time, to how much in our lives that is unnecessary; how much we have that we forget about. You never realise how much you love that little coffee place on the corner, until it’s gone. Until you get stuck inside, wishing for something to change.

So, even when the loneliness and boredom become overwhelming, I continue to work. I continue to sit in silence by the window, longingly gazing out into the empty, silent streets. And I will continue like this. I will wait for the day when I don’t have to sign on. When I don’t have to check my microphone and copy and paste passwords from emails into boxes. When I don’t have to log in to another Zoom call.

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3rd Prize

Year 7 & 8 Category

Xavier, Lindisfarne Anglican Grammar School

"pandemic"


pandemic
/panˈdɛmɪk/
adjective
1. (of a disease) prevalent over a whole country or the world. “the results may have been skewed by an influenza pandemic”

You couldn’t be alone back then,
whether you wanted to or not.
No matter what you tried to do there was always someone,

w a t c h i n g

Some people liked it,
others did not.
But there was no choice involved.

There still isn’t.

But it is different now,
now we don’t have the choice to see people.
Everyone is alone.

The shops are just as empty as the streets,
sold out of the basics.
Toilet paper.

Everyone is locked inside waiting,
waiting for it to stop,
for someone to save them,
waiting but still

watching.

Watching the news to see when they can see people again,
watching social media to keep up with their friends,
and watching the time go past,

t i c k t o c k t i c k.


separation
/sɛpəˈreɪʃ(ə)n/
noun
1. the action or state of moving or being moved apart
“the damage that might arise from the separation of parents and children”

Some people dealt with the separation better than others,
there were few that didn’t, or couldn’t, deal with it.
The end wasn’t quick or painless for those few.

The cause of the separation now has a name,
COVID-19
A virus nicknamed after a beer,
that can bring an end just as quick as alcohol.
Just as quick as a,

d r i p d r o p d r i p.


depression
/dɪˈprɛʃ(ə)n/
noun
1. feelings of severe despondency and dejection
“self-doubt creeps in and that swiftly turns to depression”

The depression came shortly after the separation,
it affected most but was worse for some.
Worse for those who were to used to people,
Worse for those who had to be

watching.

People would do anything to distract themselves from the depression.
Whether it was making up words like ‘Coronials’,
or using apps as a full time job.
But no matter what people did there was always the undeniable fact that they were,

w a i t i n g.


acceptance
/əkˈsɛpt(ə)ns/
noun
1. the action of consenting to receive or undertake something offered “charges involving the acceptance of bribes”

The depression was fierce,
it was strenuous.
But, like all things,
It ended.

Like the other stages the acceptance came at different times for different people,
but eventually most people accepted their fate.
They accepted that this was their lives now,
just watching and waiting.
Waiting and watching.
They got used to watching the tick tock tick,
and hearing the drip drop drip.

But just because the people accepted,
did not mean they liked.
They still wanted to be free,
but didn’t want to free themselves.
So the cycle continues,
the cycle of
w a i t i n g.

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1st Prize

Year 9 & 10 Category

Jiya, Warwick Senior High School (WA)

“Another Day”


She had left the TV on as she lost herself in her phone, one by one scrolling through Instagram, Snapchat and then finally Twitter. It opened to the usual, her friends yelling about one of their idols posting. Until she scrolled a little and paused as the headlines coincidentally announced “Coronavirus has hit its peak for Australia, and is predicted to increase with the easing of restrictions”. As she paused her idle surfing to find a paralleling headline, the girl cursed under her breath, voice shaky as she tried to go on, scrolling through Twitter to distract herself.

First the fidgeting started. She had to get out of her head. Slow breaths slowly changed to short, as her heart beat faster. She thought she was overreacting. It wasn’t a big deal; she shouldn’t be acting like this. Then why was she? She tried to concentrate on something, anything, as her vision grew in and out of focus. Brain filled with invasive thoughts as she started gripping at anything, trying to be able to breathe. The blood pounded in her ears. Her heart thudded in her chest. Hands shaking. Her vision disfigured. She had to get away. She couldn’t stay outside. She couldn’t look at it. Closing her eyes, she took a long, slow deep breath. Shaking violently, she was trying to make her way out of her room. That was all that mattered. She clutched her pillow, her hands wrapped so tightly around it that her nails dug into her palms.

Her cat brought her back to reality, finding her sitting on the floor, tears staining her face as the feline attempted to comfort her. As tears continued to slip from her face the girl's vision slowly cleared. She realised how surreal this all was. Even as an introvert, she missed leaving her house. She missed going outside and feeling too cold. She missed all of it.

Slowly she rose up from her place on the floor, former anxiety slowly pooling at her stomach as it churned. She felt sick.

Why did this all happen? Why weren’t people prepared to give up their own comfort temporarily, just so the numbers could still. People were dying, it was so dreamlike, dystopic. Some people saying that a country’s government released it for self-beneficial economic purposes, some standing by the fact it was like any other cold or flu. She knew the reality hadn’t hit them yet.

Finally, her breathing calmed completely as she stood up with the feline at her feet pawing her. Shakily she walked back into the room with the news playing. It had moved on to the next segment. Realising she still had her phone in her hands she looked at the headlines again, glassy eyed, autonomously she clicked out and set her phone down and just… thought. The amount of people she’d had seen from classes, continuing to go out, carefree while she remained cautious, scared.

Would they realise they’re contributing to people’s deaths? Or would they continue to be unbothered by that? She shook her head trying to get rid of the thought. She had to be overthinking it, what difference would a group of 5 people mucking around make right?
That’s what they thought.
She let her thoughts take her, closing her eyes and thinking.

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2nd Prize

Year 9 & 10 Category

Elizabeth, St Margaret Mary's College (QLD)


I could hear the rain.

Tapping against my window, slapping against the concrete. Yesterday was wind, the day before was blistering heat, today it was storming.

You only ever notice these sort of things when you're stuck inside.

It wasn't just that, the shape of my room, the length of the stairs, the emptiness of the pantry.

After so many weeks inside, the idea of going back into life before quarantine was terrifying. Part of me didn't want to go back to normal, to spend the rest of my life living in what felt like a destroyed, dystopian society. I was going crazy, holding a scissor to my hair, cooking foods with names that I couldn't even pronounce, yet my regular hobbies seemed to be squashed under the idea of filling my time with something that I had never even done.

The world was in a frenzy, scrambling for answers and a cure, a cure that seemed almost impossible to find at this point.

So, we were inside. Living out our regular day to day lives in a way that life had never been done before.

I wasn't living in a bad country, I didn't have to turn on the news and see just how many people were dying a day, or the riots begging for just a scrap of freedom in my own hometown. But I did have to watch it, watch the rest of the world dying, curling in on itself in fear, watching leaders crumble under the responsibility, spreading out rumours, nonsense and god knows what else.

We were living through something that future students would be learning about, and I wonder how it would be portrayed? Entire continents falling apart, people dying, the ignorance of leaders, masks, riots and politics.

Or would it be remembered for the good things?

Communities coming together, animals returning to their habitats, the sky finally being clear in countries that hadn't seen it in years.

It was important to stay in contact, the churning feeling in my stomach rising to my throat every time I felt myself distancing, going from seeing my friends every single day to sometimes not even talking at all.

But the more time we spent apart, the more we seemed to be talking.

A relief to say the least.

There have been challenges, regardless of what was happening, the school term persisted. It was different, and a devil in a sheep's clothing. The promise of an easy time and a relaxed schedule went out the window almost as quickly as it had been introduced. It felt like my teachers were assigning work whenever they got bored, which was obviously all the time. There was no such thing as regular school hours, the regular six hours becoming ten. I thought it would be easy, a much calmer approach to exams and assignments. I couldn't have been more wrong.

But I was making it through, slowly but surely.

The dogs were happy, I suppose. They were getting almost daily walks and were certainly enjoying the constant company.

I was enjoying theirs too.

Then there was family. Being quarantined with a twelve-year-old is never ideal, and I was definitely dealing with the brunt of it. Tapping on my walls, music blaring from speakers, constant shouting at the Xbox. My dad was home during the day, which was far from the norm. Mum was... busier, jumping between our house and Grandma's to make sure she was coping just as well as we were, while also making sure that my brother stayed focused on his work.

But there were constant calls to other family members across the country, so we were staying connected just as much as we were before, perhaps even more.

However, slowly but surely, we were starting to return to normal. The restrictions were lifting and the world seemed to be making the gradual return to normality, at least, we were.

I could finally see the light at the end of the tunnel,

And it was coming quick.

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3rd Prize

Year 9 & 10 Category

Claudia, Warwick Senior High School (WA)

“Ten Years Later”


25/07/2030

I’m still here. Still sitting on the edge of my bed waiting for the moment I can finally step outside again. It’s been about 10 years since the world went into complete lockdown and our freedom was ripped away from us. I haven’t seen any of my friends, majority of my family or a single stranger since the COVID-19 outbreak in 2020. We all knew it was bad but we never thought we would have to stay inside our homes for years, with bolted down doors and boarded up windows. Eve, one of my best friends, hasn’t been in contact with anyone in the two weeks. I think they took her. They take everyone who goes outside. The mystery of where people are taken and what happens to them only widens my curiosity, making me want to leave this house even more.

Kids back in 2020 would have been so happy to have no school, staying home every single day and having nothing in life except for a phone screen, but all I need is the loving embrace of my family. My mum rarely hugs me anymore. I think she forgot how important it is considering we see each other every hour of everyday. She feels like any kind of contact with anyone, including me, will result in death. It’s been like that ever since my dad died. I often wonder if having my dad with me during this time would make me feel better. He died about 10 years ago on the boat that forced the whole world into lockdown. The boat was filled with thousands of people, one who had contracted COVID-19, and around 90% of the people on the boat died. Losing someone to a cause you can’t control is terrible, except he could control it. We were advised not to go anywhere unless absolutely necessary, and he went on a boat. If he stayed home like Mum told him to, he could have lived and I could have coped through this hard time a lot better. I can’t help but blame him. I don’t want to be angry at him but he made the choice to go. He was told not to, yet he still did.

Eve and I always talked about going outside. She was constantly talking about the next time we would see each other and how much we have to talk about. The truth is, we have nothing to talk about. Being locked up in your house with only yourself to talk to, a television screen to stare at and the same routine repeated over and over again leaves us with nearly no new stories to tell or things to look forward to. I can look forward to finally being allowed outside, although I’m not even sure I’ll be able to handle this isolation much longer. Breathing fresh air and seeing my friends again is the only thing on my mind right now. If I leave, I don’t know where they’ll take me, or even who they are. If I step outside I’ll find out, but do I really want to? I could risk never seeing any of my family or friends ever again. I could risk the rest of my life. Although, how much of a life is this anyways? How long will I have to stay here? What if going outside is the answer to all my questions? I’ll never know.

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1st Prize

Special Education Category

Jimmy, Whalan Public School (NSW)

"My Place"


Hi, my name is Jimmy, NO NOT JAMES! Anyway… I am 12 years old and I live at 2 different houses because Mum and Dad have split up! I live with Mum, Les (my stepdad) and my little brothers, Lucian and Memphis. We have a cat named Nixy and a dog named Shadow (we called him that because he is black and dark brown).

At Mum’s house, I have a blast playing bowling and all sorts of sports on the Wii and Kinect Sensor (Xbox 360). Playing with everybody is just plain F-U-N! We live in a town house in a place called Willmot. It is small and odd. It isn’t THAT MUCH of a problem but it is FULL of bugs. 🤢🤢 Not very good.

We used to have the NBN (National Broadband Network) but Dodo was being very silly (what Dodo always does!) and now we are BLACKLISTED! But at least I have mobile data for my phone 📱📱 (iPhone 8+ 64GB (that’s 3 times bigger than Mum’s phone!!!)) AND a hotspot for my brother (also on my phone 📱📱). But we won’t get the NBN EVER AGAIN NOW!!! But other than that, my room (shared with Lucian) is nice, our car is nice (for the fact THAT IT IS OLD, supercharged AND it’s a Holden!!!!) My favorite sport is soccer because I like to kick a ball, defend my team and build trust in each other.

At school, I am good at multiplication, addition, subtraction and 24 hour time (the clock at Mt Druitt Train Station has a digital 24 hour clock). For example, 3:00pm in 12 hour time (time used on an analog clock) becomes 1500 hours in a 24 hour format. Fun fact: The Army actually uses 24 hour time!! How’s that for a fact attack? I am good with technology (coding especially), and I have a thing with re-coding websites (A.K.A. Hyperfiddling). But all in all my place is nice and the house is happy. 👦 Mostly me! No really, I could of just downloaded Spotify and make THAT the only thing that makes me happy. But no, I am happy because I get to play with everybody, including our neighbors Paul and Jen!

Under this text is a map of my place. You should really check it out!!!!



During the lockdown (dun dun duuuuuuuuuuuuun!!!) I had to do a lot, and I mean A LOT OF ONLINE LEARNING!!! But my problem was Mum had no NBN (read the top if you forgot)!!! Only her hotspot… and it was slow. When I say slow I mean slower than a slug and snail driving a RC Holden with the turbo on!!! Ugh… I hate getting hotspot connections but anything to keep me learning. But why? Because I’m a lean, green, learning machine!!! And a Year 6 to be specific (until Ms Towers catches me on Google playing with the Easter Eggs!!!). UGH… again!!! But at least I have my phone, my buddy Cruz, and the best songs in the world (rock n’ roll 🤘🤘🤘!!! (well maybe a bit of R&B)) (be aware that I didn’t have my phone before that lockdown (TOTALLY BOOOOOOOOOOOORING!!!)) But at least it was for safety. (I personally think just social distancing (staying 1.5 meters away from each other) was enough). UGH… silly government. But anything to protect the world 🌏🌏🌏🌏🌏🌏 from the Coronavirus (a giant pandemic that is still going on as I type up this document, but it isn’t too bad now. :)) And the economy may of blown to bits like a missile!!! And the Aussie dollar may be equal to 0.70 U.S. cents (today (24/6/2020)) but it is working up to the top!

Here are photos of my family… LAST YEAR!!! I am the one with the Wanderers hat, Lucian is in the Spider-Man rashie, Memphis is in The Seavengers (aquatic version of The Avengers) rashie that we got from Dolphin Marine Magic (in Coffs Harbour!!) and Les is in the camouflage hat (Mum isn’t in any of the photos because she took them!) - (still didn’t have my phone). We were at Balmoral Beach (we went through The Harbour Bridge to get there!!!!). In the 2nd photo you can see me wearing a snorkel and a pair of lime green goggles and we are coming back because Lucian and I saw some pilchards and it was lunch time (once I saw a stingray!!!!). But once COVID-19 struck ALMOST EVERYTHING CLOSED!!! From beaches to buslines and train lines SHUT!!! No more going to the city for the weekend or going to Newcastle to see Aunty Bec or anything!!!!

Now look at a photo of Memphis and me during online learning. We may be happy but that changed when my favorite game shop (CEX Mt Druitt (in the Westfield)) closed due to COVID-19 (<--- the other name for Coronavirus). But all in all it is pretty good to be home (other than hoarders taking all, and I mean ALL OF THE toilet paper. :0) But at least I got to play Minecraft on the PS4 (trying to make the parkour course that Ms Towers assigned WITHOUT LIMITS (Lucian did help with the Nether Realm hopefully (and we did record it on the PS4 but we had to DELETE IT because it was taking up space and I forgot to plug my BB-8 USB so it would go to that instead))).

That’s the effect of online learning from my point of view.

*Please Note: The radar DOES NOT TRACK GOLDEN FREDDY!!!


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2nd Prize

Special Education Category

Izaac, St John's Catholic PS Dapto (NSW)

“My Life in 2020”


Hi, my name is Izaac and this is my family. I have got my mum, my dad, my sister and my brother and I have three dachshunds. I have a fig tree in the park near me. One day I heard “wakey, wakey, eggs and bacey’’, it was my Mum calling out to me. I opened my eyes and I saw my dog Dash licking my face. She is so cute. As we were driving to school I was listening to the news about the bushfires. During January the bushfires increased my asthma and we went into a terrible drought. On the 7th of February it was my birthday and on the 6th of February it was my sister’s birthday. After two months I heard about this thing called COVID19. It affected my life in many ways. Some good and some not so good!

Firstly, COVID19 started with isolation. No school, no church, and most importantly not seeing my COUSINS! Mum had lots of problems buying items for our house. The shops ran out of toilet paper and pasta, rice and flour. The world was going CRAZY! Not only was this happening, but we had to social distance, which meant staying 1.5 meters away from other people. For health, people went for walks so they can keep fit. There was no sport, so people were eating junk food and getting fat. We had no school. Instead we were doing Zooms and Google Classrooms. It was hard because there was not as much support for my leaning. I also wasn’t able to see my friends or go to the parks, play centres and fun places. The games that I enjoyed playing were Fortnite, Brawl Stars, Roblox and watching Netflix. I really liked playing the new season of Fortnite. It was the Aqua Man update. It was the best! I’m now on level 52. I haven't got Aqua Man yet, but it's so fun.

The Coronavirus is slowly getting better now. 50 people can go to church. Some of the changes are that some shops are only allowed 100 people inside. You can now get food, toilet paper and other items at the shops. You are now also allowed to have 5 people at your house.

The worst part of the Coronavirus was not seeing my cousins for Easter. Each year we take turns celebrating Easter at each other’s house but this year we had to do Zoom for Easter. It was not fun because I did not get to play with my cousins or enjoy having a feast of nice food. It was the worst Easter of my life. Then on Saturday my dog Snoopy died. I was so upset. As the Coronavirus cases decline, it has allowed me to go back to school and see my friends. I feel good that we are going back to school because we get more support with learning.

The most exciting thing for me is that I am going to be getting a new dog in 8 week's time. I can’t wait to meet him, he is going to be a silvery-black colour. His name is going to be Snoop Dog.

I love my life!


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3rd Prize

Special Education Category

Skyla, Rockhampton North SS (QLD)

“Letter to Myself by Skyla”


Monday, 1st June 2020

Dear Me,
During the COVID-19 I stay home with Mum, Luke and Matias.
I play iPad every day.
I play with Blue and Snappy.
We went to KFC with Scott. We had to go through the drive through instead of eating in because of COVID-19.
I couldn’t go to school because of COVID-19. Now I can but I hand sanitise when I eat, drink, and come to school.

Love, Skyla.

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