Cultural and creative life

Discover the winners of the 2019 Australian Life photography competition

Explore some of the unique perspectives from people across the country – on show from 19 September to 13 October in Hyde Park.


    Australian Life is one of Australia’s biggest – and most democratic – annual photography prizes. For more than 15 years, amateur and professional photographers from across the nation have submitted their epic and intimate images of Australia. The winners were chosen by a panel of professional photographers, artists and curators. Australian Life is part of Art & About, a year round program of temporary art projects produced by the City of Sydney.

    This image was taken 1 week after the attack in Christchurch. The students from Punchbowl High School are embracing in a moment of reflection before performing the haka outside Lakemba Mosque.

    Location: Sydney, NSW

    Credit: Dominic Lorrimer
  • On the cusp

    “The women I look up to are Nanna Annie, my mum, Nanna Rob and Mum Skinny. They are brave and strong. I grew up in a small town, Kalgoorlie. There were no tall buildings and not that many houses. Dead grass and sand. I miss being in the desert because I could explore places there. I think the cockatoos like me because I'm brave. And because I feed them. I love it when they sit on me because I feel like a pirate.” Beniah, 13.

    Location: Sydney, NSW

    Credit: Alex Vaughan
  • Dashiel and Penelope

    This image signifies a relationship between blood and material. It captures the relationship between a son and mother among sentimental belongings – objects we all grew up with. We’re given insight into a family’s history and reminded of the ties we have to our beginnings.

    Location: Cundare, Victoria

    Credit: Klari Agar
  • Beach

    These are my daughters, Indigo and Zadie. Indigo is quite strong and likes to toss her younger sister into the sea. Generally, she doesn't drop her.

    Location: Avalon Beach (NSW)

    Credit: Tanya Lake
  • Untitled (North Katoomba)

    The secret world of children (and a water hose) at play on a trampoline.

    Location: Katoomba, NSW

    Credit: Marty Walker
  • Unsupervised

    Children at play, alone, without any adult supervision is simply not seen anymore. Do we live in an era where we are too afraid to leave our children to play by themselves? Set in the streets of Broken Hill, outback NSW, this scene explores the relationship between landscape past and present.

    Location: Broken Hill, NSW

    Credit: Alexandrena Parker
  • Dad’s dementia

    From shallow mass graves in Kosovo, to bloody battlefields in Helmand province, I have covered some pretty tough photographic assignments in my life. But this has been, by far, the hardest of all: documenting the day my father moved into a full-time care facility for people with stage 4 dementia.

    Location: Perth, Western Australia

    Credit: Gary Ramage
  • Translucent

    A fishmonger about to emerge from behind the plastic curtain of a shop in Cabramatta.

    Location: Cabramatta, NSW

    Credit: Alan Coligado
  • Tommy

    This is a portrait of Tommy, my nephew, age 11. It was taken in my garage in Avalon, one year after Tommy lost his father to suicide, as well as his hero, grandfather Big Tom, to cancer. Tommy is a resilient kid with freckles across his face.

    Location: Avalon, NSW

    Credit: Jessica Lindsay
  • The last offenders

    I took this photo when I cycled around Uluru with my son. We visited the cultural centre and learnt a committee had been voting annually to stop people climbing the rock. Many people wanted to close the rock to climbers for safety and cultural reasons. Several tourists have died while climbing the rock. However, the tourism representative on the committee kept voting to keep it open. In November 2017, the committee decided, in conjunction with the traditional owners of the land and the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park board, to close the climb for good. On 26 October 2019, the 34th anniversary of the Uluru ‘handback’, the climb will be closed.

    Location: Uluru (Ayers Rock), Northern Territory

    Credit: Fiona Wolf
  • Birdman

    Salt dries and cracks to form the shape of a half man, half bird's head on the dry salt pan of Kati Thanda (Lake Eyre).

    Location: Kati Thanda (Lake Eyre), South Australia

    Credit: Tom Putt
  • ZUFI – diptych

    Zufi Emerson is a 22-year-old woman from Canberra now living in Sydney. She was born in Ethiopia and adopted by an Australian couple when she was 5 months old. Zufi's adoption story is a happy one – something she is grateful for.

    Location: Sydney, NSW

    Credit: George Fetting
  • Sheep shearing and ram parade

    Spectators watch a merino sheep walking along the catwalk at Paradise Country, a theme park that introduces international tourists to Australian country culture.

    Location: Gold Coast, Queensland

    Credit: Matthew Abbott
  • Todd & Alana

    Todd and Alana live and work on a cattle farm in Goondiwindi, Queensland. With the drought continuing to affect Goondiwindi and the vast majority of rural Australia, this photograph symbolises the quintessential stoicism of our country’s farmers.

    Location: Goondiwindi, Queensland

    Credit: Aaron Chapman
  • Burn

    A firefighter walks through smoke of a controlled bush fire on Melville Island. The fire was purposely set to reduce kindling build-up and prevent large, out-of-control fires later in the dry season. For thousands of years the Tiwi people have used fire as a tool to manage their country.

    Location: Tiwi Islands, Northern Territory

    Credit: David Smith