Australian Star Prize for Rural Photography

The Australian Star Prize for Rural Photography is organised by the ACAJ to recognize excellence in rural photography.

Winners are chosen from finalists nominated by State rural media organisations affiliated with the ACAJ. There is again a cash prize of $1000 for the overall 2014 winner, provided by the ACAJ.

The winning entries in three categories also officially represent the ACAJ in the World Star Prize for Agricultural Photography. International winners for 2014 will be announced during the IFAJ Congress in Scotland in September.

The 2013 Australian winner, Peter Ristevski from Geelong, went on to take the world Award at the IFAJ Congress held in Argentina.


  • People
  • Production - including photos of machinery or technical aspects of farming, plant and animal production, bio-energy etc.
  • Nature/landscape

Who can enter?

State organisations are encouraged to provide one finalist for each of the three categories. To be eligible, each entry must:

  • Be on an agricultural subject
  • Fit in one of three categories
  • Have been published as editorial material in a printed publication or on the Internet between January 1 and December 31, 2013.
  • May be either colour or black & white.
  • A photograph that was part of a photographic feature may also be entered, but only one photo from the feature may be entered.

Judging criteria

Photos will be judged on creativity, quality and impact. Photographs in this contest should enhance the editorial message of the associated story or technical copy.

Closing dates
The closing date for entries is March 7 - except for South Australia and Queensland where entries have already closed.

Further information
Please contact the national photo award co-ordinator Gordon Collie on 0409 473 343 or email; or the following local award coordinators:

NSW/ACT: Tim Byrne Ph 02 9463 9221/0411 680 435

VIC/TAS: Kim Payne Ph 03 9637 8270/0400 983 471

QLD: Jasmine Hunt Ph 07 3864 6478 /0418 871 881

WA: Jodie Thomson Ph 08 9368 3937/0427 423 283

Photographers in the Northern Territory are invited to compete through any of the above State-based organisations.


2013 winner heart-wrenching image of a horse trapped up to its neck in mud being comforted by the young owner is the winner of the 2013 Australian Star Prize for Rural Photography.

The dramatic scene was captured by Victorian photographer Peter Ristevski and published in The Geelong Advertiser.

Winner of the nature/landscape category was Central Queensland freelance photographer Paula Heelan.

Adelaide Advertiser photographer, Tait Schmaal, entered the winning photo in the production category.



2012 winner

A captivating image of cattle mustering action though a swirling dust cloud is the winner of the 2012 Australian Star Prize for Rural Photography.

The photo appropriately titled Ghost Muster was taken by multi-award winning north Queensland photographer Evan Morgan and published in the Townsville Bulletin.

Freelancer Brian Cassey from Cairns submitted the winning people entry which was published in The Australian newspaper.

It captures the heartbreak of broken timber being cleaned up after Cyclone Yasi by the owner of Kinrara Station on the Atherton Tableland, Shane O’Brien.

The winning nature/landscape photo was taken by Nathan Dyer and published in the West Australian.


2011 winner

NSW photographer Michael Petey won the 2011 Australian Star Prize for Rural Photography with a cheerful image of a farmer admiring a sunflower, published in The Land newspaper in June 10, 2010, under the story line All Smiles at Sunny Yields. The judge chose the image because it showed imagination and a sense of humor, illustrating the subject with clever technique. “The juxtaposition of the sun and the flower was the perfect composition for maximum impact,” he said. The photo won the People Category of the Star Prize before going on to take the overall award. 

Other category winners were Mark Brake from The Advertiser in SA (nature/landscape), and Steve Hynes from the Warnnambool Standard in Victoria.


2010 winner

Victorian photographer Nigel Hallett took the winning shot in this year’s Australian Star Prize for Rural Photography. It was published in the Colac Herald in November 2009 and captured a worker in the field stripped to the waist cooling off with a water bottle.

Competition judge Peter McNamara said it was a great rural Australian image.

“It’s hard yakka being a farmer and this photo captures that better than words,” said Mr McNamara who is Digital Archiving Editor at The Courier Mail newspaper in Brisbane.

The photograph won the People category before going on to take out the overall title in a clean sweep for Victoria in the 2010 Star Prize.

2009 winner

South Australian photographer Tait Schmaal beat a quality field to win the 2009 Australian Star Prize for Agricultural Photography, with a photo of a young girl in a field, with a backdrop of ominous rain clouds. Published in The Adelaide Advertiser, the photo was part of a portfolio Tait submitted to win the 2008 Telstra Bigpond Rural Media Photographer of the Year in South Australia and qualify for the national competition.

“The winning image was truly striking. It was beautifully shot with the light balance of the girl and the cloudy sky superb,” said judge Jim Fenwick, retired pictorial editor of The Courier-Mail in Brisbane.

A photo taken by Bob Garnant of The Countryman Newspaper in Western Australia was chosen as Australian runner-up. The photo qualified after being judged best photo in the Rural Media Association of Western Australia annual awards.

2008 winner

Victorian photographer Mike Dugdale went on to win the prestigious international IFAJ Star Prize for Agricultural Photography after taking out the 2008 Australian award. The Geelong photographer’s lucky shot of a sheep leaping out of an arena during a working trial gone wrong was taken at the Casterton Pedigree Working Dogs Auction, where Australia’s best working dogs are sold each year. It was originally published in the Geelong Advertiser on June 12, 2007.

“No other photo can compete with this,” one Star Prize judge commented. “The photo shows that timing is everything, and the time of this shot was absolutely perfect – as was the lighting and composition. The expressions of those involved (spectator, dog owner, dog and the vaulting sheep) are priceless.”

2007 winner

The 2007 Australian Star Prize for Rural Photography went to Tait Schmaal from The Advertiser in Adelaide. The winning photo of a ram dominating the foreground with the handler in the background was used to illustrate an article about producers breeding bigger sheep.


2006 winner

The 2006 winner was Evan Morgan from the Townsville Bulletin, Queensland.


© 2015 Australian Council of Agricultural Journalists Inc.