• Tony Bosworth

Hawkesbury history in the spotlight as People of the River wins Prime Minister’s national award


A history of Australia's first successful settler farming area along the Hawkesbury River has won the prestigious 2021 Prime Minister’s Literary Awards.


People of the River: Lost worlds of early Australia, by acclaimed historian Dr Grace Karskens and published by Allen & Unwin, was the winner in the highly competitive Australia history category.


The judges’ commended Dr Karskens on her “meticulous scholarship” which resulted in an “epic history of the Hawkesbury-Nepean River”.



Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Minister for Communications, Urban Infrastructure, Cities and the Arts, Paul Fletcher, said the awards highlighted the creativity of Australia’s writers and celebrate their enrichment of our culture and identity.


“In these testing times literature carries even more importance, connecting us to a range of Australian voices and bringing us closer together,” the Prime Minister said.


“I congratulate this year’s winners and thank them for their contribution. They have continued a tradition of excellence and creativity in our writing that is recognised by lovers of books everywhere.”


Minister Fletcher said the annual Awards provided much-deserved acknowledgement for Australian authors and celebrate the art of literature.



“This year’s Awards have highlighted the outstanding talent of Australia’s literary community which has enriched lives of many people across the world,” Minister Fletcher said.


“In a year where much of the country relied on reading to access the world beyond their own four walls, this is an opportunity to recognise the authors whose voices have entertained and sustained us.”


Liberal Senator for Western Sydney, Marise Payne, said Dr Karskens’ pioneering history provided important insights into Australia’s colonial past.

Author Grace Karskens - pic by Joy Lai


People of the River is an engaging work that encourages all Australians to consider how the formation of modern Australia was shaped along the banks and farms of the Hawkesbury-Nepean region,” Senator Payne said.


“Dr Karskens book enriches our understanding of Western Sydney’s complex past and reminds us of the need to acknowledge past injustices and work together on shared solutions.


People of the River is a very worthy summer read, and I congratulate Dr Karskens on receiving Australia’s highest literary honour.”


For more information about the winning and shortlisted works go to www.arts.gov.au/pmla







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