The Back Story







The Woorilla Poetry Prize has evolved as a natural progression from the Woorilla literary journal published by Woorilla Writers from 1989 till 2013 and initially drawing its readership from the 

Dandenong Ranges where it was based.

As the journal spread and grew and as submissions, particularly poetry, began to come from far and wide, 

Managing Editor, Maria Millers proposed to hold a Poetry Prize.  She was soon joined by Louise Rockne, at the time publisher of Poetry chapbook, Prints, who became Poetry Editor of Woorilla and co-organisers 

of the Prize until her death in 2019.

The first Woorilla Poetry Prize was held at The Pirianda Gardens in Olinda and was supported by Parks Victoria.

The first judge was acclaimed poet and academic Judith Rodriguez and she remained as the main judge 

until her death in 2018. Other judges have included renowned and established poets Nathan Curnow and Emilie Zoey Baker and today we are very excited to have the judging wisdom of Professor Kevin Brophy from Melbourne University and Alicia Sometimes.

Right from the beginning the Prize attracted entries from far and wide and from both established as well as emerging poets, very quickly becoming recognised as a National Prize. 

Apart from the main Open Section, in the last few years there has been an emphasis on encouraging young voices and an additional category was established for those whose first language was one other than English.

Over the years there have been so many people who have worked tirelessly to get the Woorilla Poetry Prize to where it is today. Prominent among those were stalwarts like Stella Turner, Bert and Wilma Birtles, Kathryn Alexander and Maria Millers's late husband Igor Millers. 

In 2016 The Poetry Prize joined the PAVE Festival in Emerald, where it again took on another growth period attracting more and more entrants over the years. The support of Emerald Community House under its manager Mary Farrow was invaluable and more particularly the help and expertise of Phil Byers who 

eased the Prize into the digital age.

2022 marks the beginning of another exciting new chapter with the 

Poetry Prize continuing to grow and we are pleased to be able to increase prize money across all categories..

Woorilla Poetry Prize is a not for profit poetry competition run by volunteers who are passionate individuals, that believe in the power of poetry and supporting existing, up and coming and especially young emerging poets. Any assistance you can give will help grow and sustain this annual competition


The Founder

Maria Millers

Maria Millers has a background in broadcasting, teaching, editing, publishing and bookselling and currently works in Adult Education as a Creative Writing teacher and is a regular social commentator on radio. She is passionate about promoting new voices in writing and particularly those of new arrivals to this country. 

She founded the journal Woorilla and then the Woorilla Poetry Prize in 1989 and was the co administrator of The Woorilla Festival of Words. She believes now is the time when many writers are looking at Australia with new eyes beyond the clich├ęs of the past and sees this reflected in our writing culture especially in poetry.

The Co Founder

Louise Rockne

Louise Rockne made Australia home after growing up in Minnesota and studying in Carleton College, Boston. She spent time teaching English in Greece before settling in Melbourne where she worked as a librarian in the Victorian College  of the Arts and later managed libraries in the Outer East of Melbourne. 

She was publisher of a poetry journal, Prints, before joining Woorilla as poetry and general editor and co administrator of Woorilla Festival of Words and The Woorilla Poetry Prize. She was always interested in encouraging young writers and the Youth Section of the Woorilla Poetry Prize is named in her memory.

Competition Opens  |  1st June 2024

Competition Closes | 30th September 2024


Awards Ceremony - Hybrid Event: 

November 2024

 Competition & Award Dates

Interested in becoming a 2023 Sponsor or Partner? 



2023 Sponsors

Pixel Together


Cardinia Shire

2023 Partners

Supported by the Eastern Dandenong Ranges Association 

Woorilla Poetory Prize

Phone | 03 59684291

Email |

Mailing Address

C/O Eastern Dandenong Ranges Association 

P.O. Box 251, Emerald 3782.

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