Calibre Essays

2007 Calibre Prize (commended): 'Death Dance' by David Hansen

David Hansen
08 January 2015

I am at the exhibition ‘National Treasures from Australia’s Great Libraries’. I have come to see a picture of a man named Bungaree. I am standing in front of him, but I am distanced. The painting is glazed, low-lit, hung on a wall on the far side of quite a deep display case. If I stand up straight he is in focus, but too far away for me to see the details. As ... More

2010 Calibre Prize (Winner): 'On Being Odd'

Lorna Hallahan
08 January 2015

Odd to start by quoting P.G. Wodehouse: ‘She was a girl with a wonderful profile, but steeped to the gills in serious purpose.’ Bertie Wooster is complaining, in ‘Jeeves Takes Charge’1, about Honoria Glossop, who has forced upon him ‘Types of Ethical Theory’. ‘Odd’ because anyone steeped to the gills i ... More

2010 Calibre Prize (Winner): 'Seeing Truganini'

David Hansen
08 January 2015
Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent.

      Ludwig Wittgenstein, Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus   (1922)
For what it is worth, my own view is that in contemporary Australia the dialectical quest for truth about the indigenous culture, by open argument and counter-argument, is no less important ... More

2009 Calibre Prize (Winner): 'Footprints'

Jane Goodall
07 January 2015

Fingerprints have associations of guilt, but the footprint traditionally speaks of innocence. Think of Good King Wenceslas and his pageboy, crossing the moonlit snow to deliver food and fuel to the poor:

Mark my footsteps, good my page,
Tread thou in them boldly
Thou shalt find the winter’s rage
Freeze thy blood less coldly.More

2009 Calibre Prize (Winner): ‘What’re yer lookin’ at yer fuckin’ dog?’

Kevin Brophy
07 January 2015

I have never been good at violence. Not even at mild arguments. So when the brick came smashing through our bedroom window in the middle of the night,I leapt from our bed and screamed. Our children came running in, more worried and frightened by the noise I had made than by the brick or by the glass scattered on our floor. This is all history now. Well, not quite. A ... More

2008 Calibre Prize (Winner): 'Reaching One Thousand'

Rachel Robertson
07 January 2015
I have often admired the mystical way of Pythagoras, and the secret magic of numbers.
Sir Thomas Browne, Religio Medici
The real world is not given to us, but put to us by way of a riddle.
Albert Einstein

In the kitchen of my mother’s houses there has always been a wooden stand with a ... More

2007 Calibre Prize (Winner): 'An die Nachgeborenen: For those who come after' by Elisabeth Holdsworth

Elisabeth Holdsworth
07 January 2015

‘Welcome to the Netherlands!’ the sign says in Dutch and English. The Schipol customs official inspects my Australian passport. ‘Nederlands geboren,’ he sniffs. ‘Zo je komt terug.’ So you’ve come back, he adds, in a tone suggesting that I might have left something behind minutes ago, rather ... More

The love song of Henry and Olga

Ann-Marie Priest
28 April 2014

On an early spring evening in 1919, in a nearly empty cinema in the English seaside town of Lyme Regis, a slight, dark-haired figure slipped into a seat at the farthest edge of a row. From here, she would have a clear view of the profile of the youthful pianist who, sheltered behind a screen, accompanied the silent film. In white tie and tails, with her fair hair sl ... More

2014 Calibre Prize (Winner): Unearthing the Past

Christine Piper
25 March 2014

Christine Piper is the winner of the 2014 Calibre Prize for an Outstanding Essay, worth $5,000. In this powerful essay, she writes about Japanese biological weapons and wartime experiments on living human beings.

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At dusk in the Gévaudan

Tom Griffiths
26 August 2013

Thirty years ago, I walked out of the railway station at Le Puy in the Auvergne region of the Massif Central of France, put most of my belongings in a locker at the station along with a note in schoolboy French explaining that I hoped to be back, and then walked over the horizon at sunset. I was embarked on my discovery of the Velay and the Gévaudan. < ... More

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