From a forest adjoining the highway, to an astrocamper spinning through space and a sprouting Asterolasia seed, we are delighted to bring you the winning poems of the 2023 POEM FOREST prize.

Selected from over 6,400 nature poems written by students and teachers across the continent, these 18 winning and highly commended works carry hope and sorrow in equal measure, from entire solar systems to single seeds, and show a deep care for Country and all living beings on it.

Congratulations to our winning poets and all who entered the prize. Every poem has helped to plant native seedlings in schoolyards, parks, along local streets and in Tiny Forests on Dharawal Country in the Wollongong LGA, which has some of the lowest canopy cover in all of NSW. These trees will improve climate resilience, provide habitats for native flora and fauna, and create a better future for all.

Judges' Report

The 2023 POEM FOREST prize winners were carefully selected by our wonderful judges: Gardening Australia presenter and Cudgenburra/Bundjalung Aboriginal man Clarence Slockee, climate justice and mental health youth advocate Varsha Yajman, writer and founding editor of Wonderground Georgina Reid, and 2022 POEM FOREST Upper Secondary winner Hannah Fairbrother.

“What a treat it was to read these poems. There’s so much heart and craft, love and care imbued in each piece of writing. It gives me hope reading these words and knowing there are so many young people with a deep reverence for and connection with the more-than-human world." ~ Georgina Reid

Read our 2023 POEM FOREST Winners Anthology and Judges' Report here

Winning poems


Lower Primary (F/K-Y3)

'Astrocamper' by Daniel S, Year 3, Ironbark Ridge Public School (NSW)

Highly Commended
'Baby Possum' by Elysia Roselle W, F/K, St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School (NSW)
'The numbat' by Iris O, Year 3, Brunswick South Primary School (VIC)

Upper Primary (Y4-Y6)

'A Whale's Wings' by Marley D, Year 6, West Launceston Primary School (TAS)

Highly Commended
'Mangrove Forests' by Mason W, Year 5, Toogoolawa School (QLD)


Lower Secondary (Y7-Y9)

'they’re asking where you went, mother nature' by Zoe S, Year 9, Kardinia International College (VIC)

Highly Commended
'Bittersweet and Broken' by Audrey C, Year 8, Rosehill Secondary College (VIC)

Upper Secondary (Y10-Y12)

'Spider Orchid' by Chengjia (Julie) S, Year 11, Pymble Ladies’ College (NSW)

Highly Commended
'foreigner's forest' by Evelyn Z, Year 10, Pymble Ladies’ College (NSW)


Accredited Teacher

'Mallacoota' by Kate Wilkinson, Teacher, Illawarra Christian School (NSW)

Highly Commended
'Lament for a Creek' by Renee Schipp, Teacher, Golden Hill Steiner School (WA)
'Paperbark: Melaleuca irbyana' by Aloma Davis, Teacher, Toorak College (VIC)

Threatened Species Prize (F-12)

'The Last Asterolasia Seed' by Bridgette L, Year 7, St Michael’s Collegiate School (TAS)

Highly Commended
'Quoll Under Daylight' by Pardis M, Year 11, Hobart College (TAS)


The Australian Botanic Garden Mount Annan Local Prize (F-12)

'The Ocean and the Sky' by Adeena R, Year 8, St George Girls High School (NSW)

Highly Commended
'Rock Trail' by Ava M, Year 8, Macquarie Fields High School (NSW)

Wollongong Community Greening Local Prize (F-12)

'the forest along the M5' by Jayda B, Year 11, Illawarra Christian School (NSW)

Highly Commended
Chop Chop Grandfather Tree' by Kaleb I, Year 5, The Illawarra Grammar School (NSW)

Winners Announcement Ceremony

POEM FOREST would not have been possible without the support of John B. Fairfax AO, Principal Patron of POEM FOREST and other generous partners.

Partners and Supporters

  • Wollongong Botanic Garden

  • Wollongong City Council

  • Oranges and Sardines

  • Graeme Wood Foundation

  • Adès Family Foundation

  • The Australian Botanic Garden

  • Pantera Press Foundation

  • Magabala Books

  • Wonderground Journal

  • Corban & Blair

  • Craig & Joy Lawn

  • DART Learning