Lionel Bowen Young Writers’ Award 2014 – Winners


I have some good news: I am now a published author!

Last night (Wednesday 26 November 2014) I won 2nd place and my sister won 3rd place in the Lionel Bowen Young Writers Award 2014 held in Randwick City. This competition runs every second year and Eve won 1st prize in 2012.

I entered a short story that I called “The Disastrous Drought“.

Eve entered a beautiful heart-felt poem that I thought was really good named “Where the Land Meets the Sea“.

Last month it was so exciting when my sister Eve and I found out we had been shortlisted and we were to attend the award ceremony.

Here is me winning my award…

Here is big sister Eve winning her award…

Last night was great and I met many important people including the Councillor Tony Bowen (the award is named after his dad Lionel Bowen) and the judges:

  • Associate Professor Cath Ellis
  • Professor Christine Alexander

Me, Actor Bill Conn and Eve Cogan. Mr Conn was the MC for the night


The judge and I. Her name is Associate Professor Cath Ellis


Eve Cogan, Councillor Tony Bowen and I

I entered the category for Years 5 and 6 short story and I did not expect to beat the older kids. My sister Eve had the same problem but worse as she is in year 7 and had to verse year 8 and 9 students. My friend Nicole Chong also won a highly commended (she now goes to St Catherine’s School). The judge told us that the number of entries for 2014 surpassed all prior years.

Here are the other successful young writers that won along with Eve and I.

School years 5 – 6: Poem

1st – Pia Michalandos – The Promise
2nd – Dong Duong Nguyen – Wild
3rd – Saxon Mendham – My Land
4th – Nicole Chong – My secret place
5th – Georgia York – This is our world

School years 5 – 6: Prose

1st – Logan Ingle – Sand between their Toes
2nd – Ruby Tuesday Cogan – The Disastrous Drought
Jenna Thompson – Lost in the Bush
Lola Hunt – Out in the Bush
Rachael Corban – Shadow of a Girl

School years 7 – 9: Poem

1st – Liam Wood – The Coast Is My Home
2nd – Cindy Mtitelu – Recital of the Waves
3rd – Eve Cogan – Where the Land Meets the Sea
Highly commended – Jacqueline Lim – Him
Patricia Awadalla – The Beauty of Nature

School years 7 – 9: Prose

1st – Jason Cleary-Gorton – The Way of the Bush
2nd – Jaysen Largent – Chernobyl
3rd – Shea Donohoe – Willow
4th – Delilah McArthur – Fallen Soldier
Erik Unger – There He Lay
Jennifer Hatfield – A Hot Day


The happy winners (my sister is behind me)


The Disastrous Drought

Everlasting fields of green grass.

The perfect home, gone.

All I have ever wished for, gone.

I blame it all on the malicious drought. The drought struck last January on our multi-talented cotton, wool, dairy and beef farm. It was a perfect home for farming. The horrible drought had made the previously overflowing lake filled with fresh water and fish disappear, so all that was left was the stink of rotting fish. This gave us no choice but to move.

We had everything we wanted there, my family and the farm. My mum, well she is the most beautiful and kind mum in the whole world. My dad was the strongest man in town and he always gave me a kiss good night unlike all my friends’ farmer dads at school. We always had the newest machinery. That machinery, like our farm has now atrophied.

We packed up our belongings and precious possessions ready to leave the farm and hopefully come back. We set out past the everlasting brown fields, past, what we called ‘the bush’. From a place, that I called home, to ‘the city’. Everything was different and at first, bad. We slowly came to like this place, the place we called ‘the big smoke’, but more often ‘the city’.

Everything was different, especially school. I thought it was ‘bad different’ although my parents were ecstatic at the high quality of schooling. There were also good things about ‘the city’ like the amazing beaches, great cafes or even better the newly opened Casino buffet. At the buffet we saw an exciting piece of technology that we did not have on the farm called a ‘TV’. I’ve only been there once for my birthday but I really enjoyed the experience.

We finally saved up enough money to buy ourselves a TV, so we went to the shops and bought the cheapest one. We set up the TV and turned it onto the news. The first thing we heard was that the drought on the farm was finally over after 3 long years. We thought that the decision would be so easy but now it was hard. We sat around the dinner table talking for hours but we couldn’t decide.

We didn’t know whether to leave the city and its beautiful coast, where we were making money and doing well or go back to the relaxing and exciting farm. My parents had become attached to their new mechanic shop where my dad runs the mechanic part and my mum runs the adjacent café.

After everlasting lists of pros and cons, we chose to make the most courageous decision…

Ruby Tuesday Cogan
Year 5 at Claremont College, 10 years old

I entered this in the Lionel Bowen writing competition.

Video: Making my Dick Smith Documentary

My biggest school project is done. Our project is called the S.K Austin and it is very important. This year our teachers Mr Paton and Miss Divers told Year 5, that we all had to do a digital project. I chose to create a video documentary on the famous Australian, Dick Smith. Creating my documentary has been a huge adventure and the most work I have ever put into making a video so far. And even after all my hard work, I spent almost as much time on making changes from other peoples feedback, than I spent on editing the first version of my video!

I am very happy with the video now, however there were many problems I had to overcome. I initially planned to have the whole video finished in my 2 week school holiday break. In hindsight that was very ambitious because I took more than 1 week just to read Dick’s book called “Dick Smith’s Population Crisis” and write my script.

Figure: Dick’s book which inspired me

Figure: I read Dick’s book before my interview. I now know about the dangers of unsustainable growth.

But before I go on about all that, let’s start from the beginning. After lots of research and watching some famous Australians on YouTube, I decided on Dick Smith because I have been into so many of his stores. I wrote a list of points I needed to research and then I decided I would try to find his email to ask him for an interview. My sister Eve made this much easier than I expected. Eve had tried to get Dick to sign her petition to rename the “Canberra Airport” to “The David Warren Airport”. As luck would have it, Eve still had his mobile phone number.

That evening I called Dick and asked him for an interview and he said “yes”! He told me I needed to talk to his PA, Margo, and I did. Margo and I organised a time for me to visit his office, which is next to his house. I had so many questions I wanted to ask Dick but I knew it is was ridiculous to have over 70 questions, so I spent a whole day trying to narrow down my questions. In the end I still had about 40.

I had a mix of easy and hard questions. A short and easy one was:

“When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?”

Some of them were really long and complicated like this one:

“Barney Foran is a scientist who you interviewed in your documentary. He said that scientists have researched and believe that more growth is bad for Australia. Researchers don’t tell the government everything they really believe because they would lose their funding. Why don’t businessman like you, get together and give the funding to those scientists so they are free to publish their findings?”

I arrived at the interview early with my crew :). I had my sister Eve and Raj on the cameras and dad eating Dick’s biscuits. Then I was told by Margo that I only had 20 minutes with Dick. This was going to be a big problem when I had double the number of questions, than I had minutes. Luckily, I was the last person Dick was meeting that day so he spent lots of time talking to me and he answered all my questions which took about an hour.


Figure: Dick Smith and I before taking off. I have a lot of photos from my joy ride 🙂

Then after our long interview, Dick gave me the best experience of my life. He took me and my crew 🙂 on a ride in his helicopter from his house in Terry Hills to the beautiful Sydney harbour! It was a long and breathtaking trip.

When I got home that night I was straight to work putting all of the footage onto my computer. By the time I had finished copying all the camera footage into my Adobe Premiere Pro project, it was time for dinner. I had such an exciting evening telling my mum all about my day and what she had missed!

For the rest of my school holidays it was not as exciting. I worked on my video every day. Initially my video was almost 50 minutes but my goal was to get it down to 10 minutes, since my teacher had told us that was the best length because he said he did not want to watch 20 minute videos by 20 kids. Most of my days were from 8 am to 8 pm and I found it really hard, trying to make the video shorter. Cutting out each piece of my interview was very difficult, because I had spent hours already editing it. I felt like I was throwing my homework away!

The speaking part of my script was done in my lounge room and I had fun trying to catch the jars of peanut butter. It took about 2 hours to film but much, much longer to edit! When I felt pretty confident I was done, I put my documentary on youtube unlisted and sent it to a few friends for feedback. I had expected only a little feedback like “At 4:28 there is an audio glitch” but instead I got large blocks of feedback like “this petition is incorrect and no-one will want to sign it because all adults today will be over 80 when the population doubles, so it won’t affect them”. I was starting to understand Dick’s population problem now and why he had not received much support.

The person who sent me the longest email with the most suggestions was Geoff O’Rourke (who I have been doing a short film with). Althought I didn’t want to, I had to redo some filming and also lots more editing, to incorporate all of Geoff’s feedback. In addition the music was too boring, which meant deleting half of it and spending hours trying to find better tracks that more suited my documentary.

Once the video was done I knew a lot more about the world population problems and I wanted to help make people aware of the problem. After all, my generation is going to the most affected by this problem.

I was fast running out of time. My school holidays were over and I was still spending hours re-writing the script and trying to memorise it. By the end I was so tired. I was still editing until 11 pm on the last night! I could not have done this without my sister Eve who is my greatest inspiration and also Raj who loves pointing out every one of my mistakes.

In the end I did not succeed in getting my video down to under 10 minutes. In fact it was almost double the length it was supposed to be, but it was a huge improvement from my first 50 minute version!

Sign my two petitions

My first petition is for our Prime Minister Mr Tony Abbott and our opposition leader Mr Bill Shorten, to tell me and all Aussies what the population should be by 2060 (when I am 57 years old like you).

Figure: Prime Minister Mr Tony Abbott, what the population should be by 2060?

Figure: Prime Minister Mr Tony Abbott, what do you think the population of Australia should be by 2060? (I will be your age then).

Population growth is a world wide problem, just like climate change. I took a long time trying to work out a petition that would suit everyone. In the end this was impossible so I ended up creating two petitions, one for Australians and one that I think everyone in the world should sign:

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