Varuna Residential Fellowships for Writers 2019

Supporting the best in new Australian writing.

Each year since 1991 Varuna has offered Residential Fellowships. Over this time Varuna has developed a unique environment encouraging sustained work, conversation and community among writers. Varuna Fellowships offer writers a residency in an environment wholly dedicated to writing, with accommodation and full board provided, to develop an established writing project.

Residential Fellowships are available to be taken between January and May each year.

  • Varuna Residential Fellowships are for two weeks.
  • The Henry Handel Richardson Fellowship is for two weeks and includes full reimbursement of travel costs. You can find out more about the Henry Handel Richardson Society here.
  • All Flagship Fellowships are for three weeks (with the exception of the Henry Handel Richardson Fellowship).

Flagship Fellowships
are awarded by the Peer Selection panel as part of the assessment process and do not need a separate application.

Program Details

In 2019, Varuna will award 24 Residential Fellowships, including the Flagship Fellowships.


Varuna Residential Fellowships offer a writer independent writing time, accommodation and full board at Varuna the Writers' House in the Blue Mountains near Sydney, Australia.


The residency provides a dedicated writing environment with four other writers allowing intensive work, conversation and community.


Varuna Residential Fellowships are taken between January and end of May each year.


Flagship Fellowships are offered to writers whose work shows a striking and original voice in fiction, short stories, narrative non-fiction, environmental writing and/or poetry.


The Flagship Fellowships are:

  • Eleanor Dark Fellowship - Fiction: Established in memory of Blue Mountains writer Eleanor Dark, this writing fellowship will be awarded to a fiction application of outstanding quality.
  • Eric Dark Fellowship - Non-fiction: Established in memory of Blue Mountains writer and social activist Eric Dark, this writing fellowship will be awarded for a non-fiction application of outstanding quality in social, historical or political writing.
  • The Varuna Poetry Fellowship: This fellowship will be awarded for a poetry application of outstanding quality.
  • The Mick Dark Fellowship: Established in memory of Mick Dark, who bequeathed Varuna House to the writers of Australia, this writing fellowship will be awarded to outstanding Environmental Writing.
  • The Henry Handel Richardson Fellowship - Short Story Writing: Offered in partnership with the Henry Handel Richardson Society, this award promotes the life and legacy of Henry Handel Richardson as a significant Australian author and encourages excellence in Australian short story writing. This award is offered every second year and will be offered in the 2019 program.



Useful information

For more information about what to expect at the house, please refer to: Residency Details.


What Writers Say


In no particular order, the things I most love: The respect for quiet and solitary work. Being fed beautiful food. Perusing the book shelves. The beautiful, inspiring and replenishing gardens and surrounds. The fire! The daily routine which requires writers to come together in the evenings. The house and its history.

Kate Mildenhall, 2017


Varuna provides such a carefully considered and perfectly realised environment for writing that it is virtually impossible not to be productive here. 

Emily Bitto, 2017


The consultation with Carol was great. She really listened to what I was trying to do, and her help and guidance put me in the right direction to make my work as good as possible.

Anna Snoekstra, 2017


Varuna is a mecca for writers. Many authors seek to prioritise their writing; Varuna gave me permission to do just that in a tranquil, inspirational site where many a notable novel, poem or short story has first found its feet.

Laurie Steed, 2012



Who can apply?

We offer Varuna Fellowships for all genres of imaginative writing, including literary fiction, narrative non-fiction, poetry, genre writing, children's books, dramatic/screen writing, writing for radio, essays or short stories.

Writers may be at any stage of career development.

Varuna Residential Fellowships for Writers are available to Australian citizens or permanent residents 18 years and over.

Writers who have previously been awarded a Varuna Residential Fellowship are required to wait three years before applying again.

Important Dates

Applications for the 2019 residency program will open 16 June 2018 and close midnight on 30 July 2018 (AEST).
Results will be available on the Varuna website by 14 September 2018.
Fellowships can be taken between January and the end of May 2019.

Selection Criteria
  • Varuna aims to achieve a balance of new, emerging and established writers from all states and territories, according to their merit.
  • Applications are sought from new and emerging writers who can demonstrate the viability of their writing project.
  • Applications are sought from established writers who can demonstrate achievement, professionalism and clear goals for using the Writing Retreat period.
  • Writers cannot apply specifically for the Flagship Fellowships. Rather, these fellowships are offered to individuals whose work is a ‘striking and original voice in fiction, non-fiction or poetry. If no application of outstanding merit is received within a category, the selectors may choose not to award a Flagship Fellowship for that category.
  • Applications are assessed strictly on the writing material submitted rather than on references.


Selection Process

Selections are made by a committee of four to five qualified selectors from the Varuna Alumni. All decisions are final and no correspondence about the selection process or results will be entered into.

Costs to Applicant

$65 per application, or $30 if you are the holder of a current Healthcare card. Fees cover administrative costs and help sustain this program. If you are in a position of financial hardship, we may be able to waive all or part of this fee. Please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for details. Successful applicants are required to contribute $315 per week of Fellowship residency (NB this fee is waived for the recipient of the HHR Flagship Fellowship).

Varuna now has The Varuna Travel Assistance Fund which you can apply for, if eligible, and State and Territory arts departments are often willing to provide a contribution for travel expenses to support genuine professional development opportunities.