Maddy Wins the T.A.G. Hungerford Award for her novel 'Troppo'

Treehouse Ambassador Madelaine Dickie

Treehouse Ambassador Madelaine Dickie

We are super excited to share the news that Treehouse Ambassador Madelaine Dickie has won the T.A.G. Hungerford Award for her novel 'Troppo'.  We received the media release below from Fremantle Press last night.  An except for 'Troppo' is also included below.  So much passion, hard work and talent has gone into the writing of this novel.  CONGRATULATIONS MADDY!


Thursday 12 March 2015


Surfer manuscript wins Hungerford

Madelaine Dickie is the winner of the City of Fremantle T.A.G. Hungerford Award. The 28-year-old University of Wollongong graduate won the award for her manuscript Troppo, a work of fiction focusing on Australia’s relationship with Indonesia.


Dickie, who now lives in Broome, said Troppo was her attempt to define the mysterious magnetism and complicated ties that Australians had to Indonesia – a personal quest that began after someone she knew was killed in the Bali bombings.


‘Despite the fact that so many Australians travel to Indonesia for holidays and to surf, there doesn’t seem to be a great deal of literature exploring this connection,’ said Dickie.


‘The surf culture plays a huge role in this book, with a focus on what happens when this collides with a very different culture: that of Indonesian people in an area where most are devout Muslims,’ said Dickie.


Dickie, who is a keen surfer and ambassador for Treehouse Landscapes and Handshapes in Bulli, NSW, said much of the background material for Troppo was teased out over many cups of sweet black coffee with her Indonesian lecturers and friends at Universitas Padjadjaran and Universitas Islam Bandung in West Java.


‘I was able to sharpen some of the finer philosophical points in the book, particularly in relation to Islam and traditional beliefs, Islam and fundamentalism and Islam and women,’ said Dickie.


The winner was announced by Fremantle Mayor, Brad Pettitt, at Fremantle Arts Centre on Thursday 12 March. Mayor Pettitt praised the shortlisted contenders for their hard work, talent and determination.


‘The City of Fremantle is proud to sponsor the T.A.G. Hungerford Award which actively supports writers who are just beginning their careers. Congratulations to Madelaine and to all the finalists who have, hopefully, years ahead of them to contribute to this art form,’ said Mayor Pettitt.


The Hungerford is given biennially to a full-length manuscript of fiction or creative non-fiction, by a Western Australian author previously unpublished in book form. It is sponsored by the City of Fremantle, Fremantle Press, writingWA and The West Australian.


The award is judged anonymously and this year’s judges were Delys Bird, Susan Midalia, Richard Rossiter and Fremantle Press publisher Georgia Richter. The winner receives $12,000 from the City of Fremantle plus a publishing contract with Fremantle Press.

Madelaine Dickie currently resides in Broome, Western Australia.  Troppo will be published in 2016.


MEDIA ENQUIRIES: Claire Miller,, 0419 837 841



About the book – from the Judges’ Report

Penelope comes to Lampung, Indonesia, to begin a job as a hotel manager for Shane, the charismatic and boorish Australian. Penelope is adrift, having cast herself free from a conventional and conservative boyfriend in Perth, and she is nostalgic for the Indonesia of her childhood where she lived for a year. The nature of modern-day Indonesia creeps upon her by degrees: with its religious unrest and growing resentment of foreigners – especially Australians – and also its abiding belief in the power of black magic. Troppo is a beautifully observed novel with a strong sense of place about a young Australian abroad witnessing a culture and caught up in events she only half understands.


About the author

Madelaine Dickie studied creative arts and journalism at the University of Wollongong. In 2011 she received a Prime Minister’s Australia Asia Endeavour Award to move to West Java, Indonesia, and complete her first novel, Troppo. As part of this award, she worked with mentors at Universitas Padjadjaran and Universitas Islam Bandung. She is the recipient of the Illawarra Mercury Journalism Prize (2011) and the Nicholas Pounder Prize (2009). In 2012 she was shortlisted for the Robert Hope Memorial Prize. 

Her writing has appeared in numerous publications including GriffithREVIEW (2013), the American journal Creative Nonfiction (2012), Hecate (2010) and Kurungabaa (2009, 2010, 2012). Her radio stories have been broadcast on Radio National and ABC Kimberley and she also writes and rides for the surfboard company Treehouse Landscapes and Handshapes. Madelaine currently lives in Broome, where she works for KRED Enterprises, an organisation committed to sustainable Aboriginal economic development. 


About T.A.G. Hungerford (1915–2011)

T.A.G. Hungerford was widely admired as a quintessential Western Australian writer and identity. He was a major contributor in helping us define our sense of self and place in a rapidly changing world. His first collection of short stories was published in 1976 by Fremantle Press. Stories From Suburban Road, A Knockabout with a Slouch Hat and Red Rover All Over have all been major publishing successes. In 1987 T.A.G. Hungerford was made a member of the Order of Australia. In 2002 he was the recipient of the Patrick White Award and in 2004 he was declared a Western Australian State Living Treasure. He was proud to have the unique WA award for debut writers, the T.A.G. Hungerford Award, named for him. He was always a great supporter of new and emerging writers.


General notes from the Judges’ Report

The City of Fremantle T.A.G. Hungerford Award 2014 attracted 61 full-length manuscript entries. The large number of entrants to this biennial award testifies to the importance of the award and to the continuing number of unpublished West Australian writers producing fiction and creative non-fiction manuscripts.


Three judges, Delys Bird, Susan Midalia and Richard Rossiter, judging the award together for the second time, were pleased by the number of entries and the high standard of many of the manuscripts. However, this made coming to a decision about the manuscripts to be sent to Fremantle Press for final consideration by publisher Georgia Richter, a difficult one.  All the manuscripts were judged anonymously. They were read by two of the judges, while those considered potentially eligible for the award were read by all three.


The judges were most interested in the quality of the writing, the development of a narrative voice, the depth of characterisation achieved and the structure and plotting of the narrative; these criteria applied to all the manuscripts.


One notable aspect of this year’s award was the emphasis on our regional neighbours: Papua New Guinea, Sumatra and Vietnam were some of the settings depicted. It would seem that many emerging Western Australian writers are looking to articulate our relationships with our nearer neighbours – in this year’s Hungerford, many Australian characters ventured abroad, or Asian characters immigrated to Australia. These novels looked outward to a variety of cultures with curiosity, wonder and an acknowledged imperfect understanding. The emphasis of these manuscripts on representing other cultures also shows how critical to our national character the ethnic melting pot can be, and it is wonderful to see the depth and complexity of ‘Australian-ness’ represented in this way.


Extract from Troppo

I heard a savage story about a dukun when I was a teenager. Dad had offered our house in Kuta to some family friends for a week during school holidays and we relocated to Balangan, a white-sand, blue-water cove. The road down to Balangan was still unmarked, still a hazardous slide of loose gravel and slyly squealing pigs. We slept on the balcony of a guesthouse: thin mattresses under mozzie nets. At night, dad got on the piss and I let a Brazilian butterfly kiss my thighs in swap for sips of buttery arak. Until I got caught. Dad was disgusted. Not because he found me necking a bloke ten years my senior but because I was with a Brazilian.
            “No Germans, no Brazilians,” he told me.
            “What about Japs?”
            “Yeah. Japs are alright.”
            Dad’s measure of a man’s worth was how courteous he was in the surf and how well he surfed; in his experience, Germans or Brazos didn’t make the grade.
            After I’d been sprung, Dad kept me closer. No sifting to the other guesthouses to watch poi. No drifting to the rock platform between Balangan and Dreamland in a thin white dress.
            The night I heard the dukun story I was wrecked sideways in a hammock. The surf had been a solid four to six foot and on low tide I missed a take off and got dragged over a jungle of reef.
            It scissored up my bikini, my back.
            The blokes at the guesthouse, Aussies mostly, made a fuss and painted me up with mercurochrome. They complimented dad on having such a gutsy daughter and I think he was secretly proud.
            With nightfall came violent rumbles. The surf was doubling, trebling. I was glad I wouldn’t have to go out the next day. The men’s voices, scarred and rough, were almost crushed by the sound of the water. They were talking about Nias. One of the older men said he’d been in Nias in the ’60s. With another bloke and a French girl. The three were camping out near a wave. After they’d been there a few days an old man approached and told them to leave.
            “Does someone own this land? We’re happy to pay,” offered the Aussie bloke.
            “I don’t want your money, I want you to leave.”
            There was something about his eyes. A splinter-sharp madness. A betel-tinged absence. He shuffled off.
            In the surf they learnt he was the town’s dukun.
            They’d heard about dukuns.
            They weren’t scared.
            But that night in the tent they discussed whether there’d be repercussions if they stayed.
            “Nah fuck it, we’ll be right.”
            The next day the two men scored Lagundris. A flawless, almond-eye barrel. They surfed until they were ravenous, until their skin glowed with the wattage of Jakartan brothels. When they got in the French girl was out, off somewhere, probably walking. That evening she still hadn’t come back. All her stuff was there: passport, money, clothes. 

            But no girl.

            The girl never came back.
            And they never found her.