Cathy Callaghan, whose short story One Last Dream won the Long Way Home writing competition.
Cathy Callaghan, whose short story One Last Dream won the Long Way Home writing competition. Adam Hourigan

Cathy's Last Dream helps her find her voice

A PICTURE that Cathy Callaghan saw at a Long Way Home writing workshop earlier this year provided much more than a thousand words.

The photo of an older woman, not only sparked the imagination of Lawrence's Cathy Callaghan, but led her resulting story One Last Dream to win this year's Long Way Home writing competition.

"It all started from the image of an elderly lady who was a recluse and then evolved as I started writing it.”

"It then became about her and an indigenous man who lived on the island, and his character kind of just showed up as I was writing it.

"I was like 'Oh hi! Great!.”

Ms Callaghan said the story became very mystical, and it became about how people from different cultures shared space for each, how they had an appreciation for the lad the were on, and how they cared for each other and their beliefs.

Long Way Home co-organiser Claire Aman said the story was moving and affectionate.

"It was hard to pick a winner from an impressive field of entries,” she said.

"But Cathy's story has a dreamy, fable-like quality that caught the eye of the judges.”

The competition theme was 'To the Island', to match as part of the 53 Islands Festival.

"We were thrilled to see so many original approaches to the idea. Islands mean different things to different people,” Ms Aman said.

"We had stories of lives saved, lives lost, mystery, history and beauty from writers of all ages.”

All of the shortlisted stories from The Long Way Home writing competition will be published in Stories from the Clarence Valley 2019, including a selection of primary and secondary school stories from students across the Clarence Valley.

The book will be launched in the garden of the Ulmarra Hotel on November 12, from 5.30 to 6.30pm. The book will be on sale at the launch.

"Last year we sold out in a week, so this will be a chance to get in early,” said Ms Aman.

"Everyone's welcome to come along and celebrate our Clarence Valley writers and their stories of the river.”

Ms Callaghan encouraged writers to get involved with the writing competition when it opened again.

"I think everyone's got a story,” she said. "I think some aren't sure what it is, or maybe we think no-one wants to listen.

"But this makes me want to encourage Clarence writers to do it. I got to my 50's and thought 'Why don't I enter this?

"In the end I just thought to have a go... and I found my voice.”

LONG WAY HOME WINNERS

1st: Cathy Callaghan - One Last Dream

2nd: Gaye Sprenglewski - Under the Sun

3rd: Gra Murdoch - Ben

Highly Commended: Bruce 'Fed' McPherson - The Big Green Wave



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