Walkley Book Award

Entries open May 6, 2019

Terms & Conditions
Frequently Asked Questions

The 2019 Walkley Book Award will acknowledge the work produced by an Australian journalist or writer, published in the year from September 1, 2018 to August 31, 2019.

As in past years, we stagger entries so that the judges don’t have to read six dozen books all at once. (There’s no difference between the two rounds for entrants.)

First round entries close June 14.
Second round entries close Aug. 31.

The Walkley Book Award celebrates the value and importance of long form journalism, acknowledging the proud line-up of Australian writers who have taken subjects of enduring topicality and consequence from news bulletins, eye-witness reporting, investigations and historical records and provided readers with expanded factual detail, revelation and greater clarity of analysis in book form.

For information on the Walkley Book Award please contact awards manager Lauren Dixon on 02 9158 3820 or lauren.dixon@walkleys.com

2018 WINNER – Helen Pitt, The House, Allen & Unwin

From idea to opening, building the Sydney Opera House took nearly two decades, four premiers, $102 million, over 1 million tiles and more than 10,000 men from 90 different countries. It started with Danish architect Jørn Utzon, whose entry in the international design competition was chosen as winner in 1957. Many Australians know the tragedy of Utzon, who never saw his masterpiece completed after leaving because of a dispute with the NSW government. Fewer know the story of Peter Hall, the Australian architect who completed the building and died in obscurity. Helen Pitt constructs the saga with 10 years of research and interviews. As well as a tribute to an iconic building, Pitt’s book is a paean to newspaper reporting.

Helen Pitt began her career in 1986 at The Sydney Morning Herald, where she is currently a senior writer and has also been opinion and letters editor. She has worked as a feature writer for The Bulletin magazine, in California for New York Times Digital, and as a television reporter at Euronews in France. This is her first Walkley Award.

The 2019 Walkley Book Award shortlisted finalists were (in alphabetical order):

  • Peter Greste, The First Casualty, Viking
  • Chris Masters, No Front Line: Australia’s Special Forces at War in Afghanistan, Allen & Unwin
  • Helen Pitt, The House, Allen & Unwin

Walkley Book Award Chair – Colleen Ryan

RYAN. 091113. AFR ONLINE PIC BY PETER BRAIG. Colleen Ryan, afr journalist in shanghai, china , WRITER FOR AFR ONLINE. SPECIAL 111111

Colleen Ryan has a journalistic career spanning almost four decades. She is a former Editor of the Australian Financial Review and during her career she was Washington correspondent for the AFR and more recently China correspondent, based in Shanghai for 6 years.

Colleen’s journalism career included a decade with the Sydney Morning Herald and five years with National Times. She has won three Walkley awards including the Gold Walkley and received a Centenary Medal for services to journalism and publishing.

Colleen was co author of Corporate Cannibals, The Taking of Fairfax –published in 1992; and the author of Fairfax: The Rise and Fall published in 2013. She is also the co author of Sell Up Pack Up and Take Off, published in 2014.

Past winners

The 2018 winner will join the ranks of some of the most celebrated non-fiction writers in Australia: Helen Pitt (The House), Louise Milligan (Cardinal), Stan Grant (Talking To My Country), Chip Le Grand (The Straight Dope), Paul Kelly (Triumph and Demise), Pamela Williams (Killing Fairfax), George Megalogenis (The Australian Moment), Russell Skelton (King Brown Country), Shirley Shackleton (The Circle of Silence), Graham Freudenberg (Churchill and Australia), Don Watson (American Journeys), Chris Masters (Jonestown), Neil Chenoweth (Packer’s Lunch) and Bob Connolly (Making Black Harvest). Entries can encompass subject matter including true crime and biographies, political analysis, business writing, war reporting, investigative journalism and foreign correspondence.


Judging is a two-tier process comprising senior representatives from the media and publishing community. Judges will determine a long list and shortlist of nominees before winners are announced at the 64th Walkley Awards in November 2019.