John Villiers Outback Art Prize 2024

Carved goanna and boomerangs

The John Villiers Outback Art Prize is a prestigious contemporary art prize set in Winton, the heart of Outback Queensland. It gives established and young emerging artists an opportunity to tell their story of the outback and be eligible for prizes up to $10,000.

Each year, the John Villiers Outback Art Prize invites artists from all over Australia to use their talents to tell the story of the uniqueness of country landscapes and communities through painting, drawing, print and sculpture.

Culminating in opening night celebrations, and an exhibition at the Outback Regional Gallery in Winton, the event draws visitors from far and wide to celebrate the wonders of the outback. Find out more about the event and the many reasons to visit Winton here.

Read more about JVT and the Waltzing Matilda Centre:

May 2024: Outback Art Prize recognises stunning sculpture by First Australian artist

Prize money brings the winner of 2024 John Villiers Outback Art Prize, Travis Harbour, one step closer to achieving his family’s dream of establishing an Aboriginal Art Gallery and Museum on their property at Winton.

A stunning sculpture titled Tracking Perentie by Travis Harbour is the winner of the John Villiers Outback Art Prize 2024. 

Carved from corkwood sourced on Travis’s property, the perentie – or goanna – was carefully decorated using wire burning and accompanied by two boomerangs carved by Travis from gidgee wood also from his land. 

Travis said that both trees are important and useful to Aboriginal people.

“Corkwood is a beautiful tree, easy to carve, and Aboriginal people use it for shields whereas gidgee is hard timber which is what you want for a boomerang – and the sap is a great bush lolly.”

“When I look at timber, I can see what it will be before I start and hopefully, I can turn it into something close to how I imagined it would look like,” he said.

Travis was surprised and delighted to win the award and pleased his winning entry will be acquired by the Waltzing Matilda Centre’s Outback Regional Gallery’s permanent exhibition – the first for a First Nations’ artwork. 

“I wanted to show a different medium and culture, to encourage other genres to enter the Outback Art prize.” 

“The John Villiers Outback Art competition is just getting better and better,” he said.

Carved goanna and boomerangs     A mixed media artwork showing a carved goanna and boomerangs on a spinifex landscape.

Cultural Camp Stays and the plan for an Aboriginal Art Gallery and Museum

Beyond his own artistic expression, Travis is striving to elevate Aboriginal culture to its rightful status in our country. 

Travis and his wife Tracey have established a 100% Aboriginal-owned and operated company showcasing amazing Aboriginal artists and experiences – called Jibija Ung-gwee – on their property outside Winton.

Visitors to their property can connect with First Australians’ culture when they camp overnight under the starry outback sky and learn from local people about stories from long ago. 

“Around a campfire, visitors will hear stories about the history of First Nations people, about Aboriginal Stockmen and other important individuals from Northwest Queensland, about bush tucker and bush medicine, our relationship connectedness, including our skin name and obligation system, and the firsthand experience of our older generations,” Travis said.

“We know personal stories are the most powerful; we are humanizing our culture and history in a place where you can appreciate our stories from long ago, while sleeping under the stars.”

Travis said tourists who come to Winton for the Australian Age of Dinosaurs and the Waltzing Matilda Centre say they are looking to learn more about First Nations’ culture – and the whole region can benefit from another destination.

“If we create five jobs, we have had a big impact on our small town, because that’s five more families at the school, spending at the shops, it has a big flow on effect,” he said.

Travis wants to get to the stage where all Australians can appreciate and acknowledge the history of First Nations’ people, as their own as well. 

“We have sights out here right through Australia that are thousands of years old and sites of significance that are not seen or valued by many Australians – and we should be proud of what we have, and we hope to play our part to change that.”

“And there are no wrong questions – our cultural experience is an open session – because this is how learning takes place,” he said.

And that’s where the prize money will come in handy. Travis and Tracey have invested heavily to get approval and designs for an Aboriginal art gallery on their land and are now going to invest the Outback Art Prize money of $10,000 into the next stage of building the gallery.

For more information:


   Young people holding boomerangs against blue outback sky

May 2024: Young artist boosted by winning Emerging Artist Prize at the John Villiers Outback Art Prize

Winton local Dache Geiger has won the Emerging Artist Prize at the John Villiers Outback Art Prize for her hyper-realistic portrait of her much-loved grandmother, Hilary.

The Emerging Artist award gives young people living in country communities the opportunity to exhibit their work in an art prize for new talent, and see the potential for a career in art.

Dache’s talent was first noticed back in 2022 by Karen Stephens, Waltzing Matilda Centre Exhibition Coordinator, at a Youth Development Workshop funded by The John Villiers Trust. It was Karen who prompted Dache to enter the Outback Art Prize, following a chance encounter in downtown Winton late last year. But for this encouragement, Dache says she would not have thought to enter a formal competition and her confidence was boosted by the prize win.
“Being an artist requires taking a risk… it is so important to receive feedback like this,” Dache said.

“It was crazy to be featured in a local gallery in the outback. The quality of the other artists was mind boggling.”

The win has given Dache the confidence to set up a Facebook page to showcase her work and plan for the next steps in her artistic side hustle.

“I take photos of my work anyway, so I decided to put my art out there on my Facebook page [ Art by Dache],” Dache said.

“My next step is to have an exhibition of my own and I’ll put the prize money towards a flash custom easel and more materials, which will replace the old ones I’ve been using – some since school.”

The John Villiers Trust CEO Lea-Anne Bradley said it is important to connect young people in the country to mentors and community programs to support their development and encourage them to participate and take risks.

“Activities like this help young people build connections in their community and access opportunities they wouldn’t otherwise think possible for themselves,” Ms Bradley said.

Like many artists Dache has a day job – she is a biosecurity officer at Winton Shire Council. 

Her winning portrait of Hilary is on display at the Winton-based Waltzing Matilda Centre along with the other 44 finalists until 19 May 2024. You can view the gallery online and vote for your favourite entrant in the People’s Choice Awards

About the subject of Dache’s work

Irrepressible Hilary was an inspiration to Dache and her brother, who she helped raise. Famous for white water rafting in Queenstown aged 95, Hilary’s active lifestyle, four children, scrabble and book club memberships, war service and twice-weekly voluntary work at the Yungaburra kindy, meant she packed a lot into her 98 years. When Hilary passed away in Longreach in 2022, this outback woman was celebrated by friends and family in a two-day funeral event.  

Dache’s winning portrait of Hilary


April 2024: Celebrating a childhood like no other

To encourage children from Central Western Queensland to express how they feel about their lives, The John Villiers Trust (JVT) has funded the Children’s Art Project digital gallery as part of the John Villiers Outback Art Prize.

Brolgas in your main street, kangaroos lounging on the edge of town, and the darkest night skies filled to the brim with stars – these are everyday experiences for children who grow up in the outback. 

To capture the wonder of an outback childhood and elevate the voice of country kids, JVT has funded the Children’s Art Project digital gallery as part of the John Villiers Outback Art Prize. 

Through the medium of art, the Children’s Art Project invited children aged 5-14 to express what they love about their lives in the outback and what they would change. Eighty-seven children from the Central Western Shires of Barcaldine, Barcoo, Blackall Tambo, Boulia, Diamantina, Longreach, and Winton took part. 

Filled with optimism and outdoor themes, the children’s artwork features pink and orange sunsets, big skies and open vistas, freedom and space, horses and cows, motorcycles and trucks, brolgas and emus, local architecture and places of history, and station life. 


As a counterpoint and reality check, colourful drawings of fast-food outlets, the ocean, and an action-packed picture of a car chase were also submitted – possibly things the kids missed or would like to change.

The John Villiers Trust CEO Lea-Anne Bradley said it is important to listen to children on these topics and consider what they are telling us as communities. 

‘The medium of art is a safe way for children and young people to express themselves,” Ms Bradley said.

‘These pictures bring broader community awareness about what kids are seeing and thinking.

‘It can be a conversation starter for families and community groups to consider what kids in the bush are experiencing – the good and the bad.’

To ensure the artwork is visible to the kids, their families and communities no matter where they live, the art is displayed in a digital art gallery: The Children’s Art Project digital gallery. All pictures can be downloaded in a high-resolution format from the digital gallery and displayed through social media, printed, or even emailed to grandparents throughout Australia. 

The Waltzing Matilda Centre had the Children’s Art Project on continuous digital loop in their foyer, as did the North Gregory Hotel – sharing the children’s optimism and enthusiasm for outback life with new audiences.  

To learn about the outback from the children who live there, you are welcome to visit The Children’s Art Project digital gallery showing online from 23 March until 17 May 2024. 



March 2024: Winners of the John Villiers Outback Art Prize announced

Guests from far and wide joined locals in Winton for the announcement of the winners of the John Villiers Trust Outback Art Prize 2024.  

This competition asks artists from all over Australia to capture the wonder of outback life: reinforcing all the unique and exciting aspects that make the outback a fantastic place to live and visit.

Over 180 accomplished entries from across Australia canvassed subjects from shearing sheds to outback landscapes, animals, and identities. Entries were whittled down to 44 finalists for consideration by the outback judges –  Sarah Johnson, from the Qantas Founders Museum Longreach and Kathryn Graham from Broken Hill City Gallery and Kersten Mining Museum.  


A mixed media artwork showing a carved goanna and boomerangs on a spinifex landscape.


A stunning work titled ‘Tracking Perentie’ (pictured) by Winton local Travis Harbour won the prestigious Open Category against a very strong field of outback-inspired entries. Congratulations also to another Winton local, Dache Geiger (pictured below), for a graphite and charcoal drawing of her late-grandmother Hilary, which won the Emerging Youth Category. We are delighted that this year, despite the continuing strong entries from across Australia, the judges agreed that these two locals stood out for the quality of their work. 

A man in a blue suit shakes the hand of a young woman's in front of her artwork.


The John Villiers Trust Chair Ian Galloway was delighted to be part of the launch and prize giving at the Waltzing Matilda Centre in Winton and see the cultural buzz that is being generated for locals.  Ian also made the most of his time in Winton, taking the chance to visit another JVT grant recipient and Winton tourism success story, the Australian Age of Dinosaurs museum, and see firsthand the outstanding drawcard they have created. 

JVT has supported the Waltzing Matilda Centre and the John Villiers Outback Art Prize for over 10 years and is proud to continue to help bring this iconic event to life, expanding its reach to a wider audience of young artists and giving voice to their experiences of the outback. 

Visit the exhibition online or in-person

The works of the finalists will be on exhibition at the Outback Regional Gallery at the Waltzing Matilda Centre in Winton from 23 March to 19 May 2024 or view the exhibition online:

February 2024: John Villiers Outback Art Prize finalists announced

The John Villiers Outback Art Prize exhibition opens next month, showcasing the incredible talent of artists in outback communities, and their ability to share the story of the wonders of rural, regional and remote Australia.

Our congratulations go to all the finalists in the Adult and Emerging Youth categories:

Ainslie McMahon

Baden Johnson

Carmen Jackson

Dache Geiger

Deborah Michell Smith

Desma Munro

Diane Clark

Elena Churilova

Elizabeth Clark

Gabriela Thiecke

Georgie Johnson

Glenda Jones

Harita Lakshmivenkatesaku

Jacqueline Burgess

Joanne Kerr

Juanita Sangangitha

Karen Standke

Kathy Ellem

Laura Prowchowski

Louise Vadasz

Lyn Bartolo

Margery Goodall

Mark Coombe

Mary Nguyen

Maureen Harley

Melinda Giblett

Melissa Stone

Miriam Innes

Misty Lee Talbot

Patricia Menegazzo

Paul Whitehead

Renee Sanson

Sam Pennisi

Sally West

Sarah Field

Sarah Singleton

Sharon Wilkinson

Steve Lopez

Susanne Denham

Susie Goodyear

Suzanna Hay

Travis Harbour

VRM Morrison

Zac Moynihan

The works of the finalists will be on exhibition at the Outback Regional Gallery at the Waltzing Matilda Centre in Winton from 23 March to 19 May 2024.

The finalists’ images will also be available online for the duration of the exhibition.

For more information visit:

August 2023: Entries for the 2024 John Villiers Outback Art Prize now open

The Art Prize is open for entries now until January 2024. Submissions from adult and youth, professional and emerging artists are welcome as part of this artistic celebration of country life hosted by the Outback Regional Gallery in the Waltzing Matilda Centre, Winton.

The Art Prize is open until 12 January 2024. Winners will be announced in March 2024 and entries exhibited at the Outback Regional Gallery in the Waltzing Matilda Centre, and online.


August 2023: Introducing the Children’s Art Project and Digital Exhibition

In 2023/2024 even younger artists are encouraged to get involved with the John Villiers Outback Art Prize, through the new Children’s Art Project and Digital Exhibition.

For the first time, budding artists aged 5-14 years from Winton, Longreach, Barcaldine, Blackall, Barcoo, Tambo and Diamantina are invited to submit their artwork expressing what they love about living in the bush or what they would like to see or change in their region. Entries will be exhibited online through a digital gallery as part of the John Villiers Outback Art Prize.

It’s a great way to give young people from rural, regional and remote communities a voice and opportunity to express themselves through art.