Sydney Hammond Memorial Short Story Competition

The 2024 Sydney Hammond Memorial Short Story Competition is now OPEN!

Learn more about the 2023 Sydney Hammond Memorial Short Story Competition Anthology, Detours, here.

Competition Details

Closes 6PM AEST Thursday, 1st August 2024

Maximum 1,000 words 

Theme: The look that said it all

$17.50AU entry

We’re looking for stories with powerful beginnings, rising tension, and a climax that resonates, to the theme of The look that said it all. Short stories about complicated relationships, quirky happenstance and tense encounters that examine lessons learned, cautionary tales, surprising endings and the quirky characters that enrich our lives. Whether it’s love at first sight, misunderstood intentions, a big reveal, forbidden love or a decisive moment, play with unconventional storytelling and make the judges take notice.


First prize:

  • A ticket to the Children and Young Adult (CYA) Conference for 2024 (valued at $410)
  • A year-long membership to the Queensland Writers Centre (QWC) valued at $79.
  • Anthology cover based on the winner’s story.

Second prize:

A year-long membership to the Queensland Writers Centre (valued at $79).

Third prize:

A year-long membership to the Queensland Writers Centre (valued at $79).

Winners who are existing QWC members will win a 12-month membership extension. Winners don’t have to be Queensland-based to enjoy the many wonderful membership benefits of the QWC.

Shortlisted and Longlisted announced.

TOP 40 published in an anthology – free copy to all published entrants.

(To learn more about sponsorship opportunities please contact us)

What Judges Are Looking For

Judges are Looking for the Following

  • Writing ability: correct tense, point of view, minimal redundant words and adverbs, show not tell.

  • Story arc: rising tension, climax, resolution.

  • Adherence to the competition theme.

  • Spelling & Grammar.

  • Layout conforms to the competition guidelines.

Want an insight into the types of stories that win first prize and get published in our anthology?

Then grab a copy of the 2023 Anthology, Detours. Details here.

Our judges can’t wait to read your stories!

We recommend Winning Short Story Competitions as an essential writing guide. Competition judges L. E. Daniels and C. Sawyer show what it takes to win, shortlist and longlist in competitions. Shortlist and longlist credits are just as beneficial to a writer’s career as wins are.

Who is Sydney (Syd) Hammond?

Syd Hammond appeared to be like any ordinary guy. But those who loved him, knew different. He was so much more than ordinary. Syd was born in 1937 and died in 2007, aged 70. As a teenager he taught himself to play guitar. When rock-n-roll first sounded on radio there wasn’t sheet music to follow. Syd and his mates crowded into booths at record stores. They listened keenly to identify their instruments. He hand-made his first electric guitar. He was one of the first Brisbane musicians to play music on TV. 

In 1964, Syd received a bravery award for capturing one of Queensland’s most wanted criminals – Bernard Morrow. Driving in his police patrol car, Syd noticed a drunk driver. He pulled him over, and casually suggested the gent go to the police station to sleep it off before he drove any further. Bernard Morrow complied. At the station, with Bernard sleeping it off, Syd sat at a desk and a WANTED poster caught his eye.  Staring back at him were the eyes of the man already locked in the cell. He orated with glee the story of luck getting him a bravery award.

Syd portrayed a quintessential Aussie spirit of larrikin, ‘give it a go, mate’, mateship, and do the best you can for your family. Syd loved Australia. He believed in standing up for what you believe in. He believed that music, art, humour and stories are the drumbeats that bring people together.

Tragedy struck in 2000 when his daughter, Julie, and son-in-law, John, were murdered by an intruder. The grief and injustice ran deep. When tragedy strikes we’re reminded of what really matters in our lives. When families are so harmed they often look to transform their heartbreak into community support for others to find the positive.

The Sydney Hammond Memorial Short Story Competition to honour his memory was founded by his family.

For Carolyn, Syd’s daughter and the Director of Hawkeye Publishing, words are held with reverence. The ability to articulate to be meaningful, thought-provoking and entertaining fosters community, understanding, change, healing, and celebrating all that should not be taken for granted.

Words are powerful, and our wish with this competition is to acknowledge talented wordsmiths and give writers the opportunity to be heard.

The competition is not-for-profit—profit from the year before is used as the following year’s prize money. Judges announce the winner, short-list, long-list and Best 5 Junior. These top 45 stories are published in an anthology, and all those published receive a free copy of the book. Guidelines and entry form can be found here.

Our Sponsors

Hawkeye Publishing thanks the inaugural sponsors who made the competition possible: Tony & Christine Hammond (gold sponsors), Lynette Hammond, and Shane & Karen Traversari. We also thank our current gold sponsor: Brisbane Writers Workshop.

Thanks to our generous sponsors:

CYA Writers & Editor Conference and Queensland Writers Centre.

Hawkeye would like to thank our 2023 sponsors, the Queensland Writers Centre for their generous support of the Sydney Hammond Memorial Short Story Writing Competition.

Hawkeye Publishing extends a huge thank you to our Gold Sponsors of the inaugural prize in 2019Tony and Christine Hammond (Sydney Hammond’s son and daughter-in-law), for enabling the winner’s cash prize, the printing of the 40 anthologies for the Top 40, and the cover design for the book!

And Karen & Shane Traversari – Silver sponsors – we thank you, thank you.

Hawkeye Publishing extends a big thank you to Lynette Hammond (Sydney Hammond’s daughter) for sponsoring proofreading services!

It was a family & friends affair to launch the inaugural Sydney Hammond Memorial Short Story Competition in 2019…

Editing, Page Setting, Distribution & Sales, and Publicity provided by Carolyn Martinez (Sydney Hammond’s daughter) through Hawkeye Publishing.

Read the Competition Winner’s Announcement 2023

Hawkeye congratulates the top three entrants for their exceptional achievement, and is thrilled to announce the winners of the 2023 competition.

The winning short story is:

Mr Popperwell Takes the Lead by Ned Stephenson.

Here is what the Brisbane Scribes have to say about Mr Popperwell Takes the Lead:

‘A well-written, witty story with sharply observed details, this entry was a standout favourite with the judges. As one, we commented on the very clever use of humour, which is an acknowledged skill in a short story. The development of the characters was well done, particularly that of Mr. Popperwell. The author’s play on words was also notable, as was the well-chosen title.’

The runner-up is:

Breakfast by Pete Armstrong.

‘In Breakfast, the use of detour was unexpected and particularly memorable,’ the Scribes say. ‘Very well written with a clever twist in the tail, the author has used words economically while still maintaining tension through to the story’s surprising resolution.

Third place honours go to:

Lefty Righty by Kathleen Klug.

Lefty Righty makes wonderful use of a children’s game to mask the darker elements of a story played out too often. The tension builds quickly to a surprising and unexpected ending. The story shows rather than tells very well and finishes with a thought-provoking final sentence.’

The winning story in the junior category is:

The Bicycle of Forgotten Things by Pippini Niamh

‘Congratulate yourselves on a fantastic effort,’ says Carolyn Martinez. ‘It has been a pleasure to read these three excellent stories, and this year’s entries confirm the high quality of Australian writing talent.’

All three winners receive a year-long membership to the Queensland Writers Centre. The overall winner, Ned Stephenson, also receives a coveted ticket to the Children and Young Adult (CYA) Conference for 2024, and the cover of the 2023 anthology of the competition will be designed based on Mr Popperwell Takes the Lead.

Entry Terms and Conditions 2024

By entering a piece in the Sydney Hammond Short Story Award – a writing competition – you agree to be bound by the following terms and conditions.

Sydney Hammond Memorial Short Story Competition Entry Terms and Conditions 2024

Sydney Hammond Memorial Short Story Competition

Back to top