INSPIRE: Writer in Residence Initiative 2021

Following the success of the inaugural INSPIRE Writer in Residence initiative last year, the National Trust of Western Australia is excited to announce a new partnership with the Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries to deliver a second round of residencies in 2021.

In 2021 INSPIRE expands to offer five residencies, with $5000 stipends, across five heritage properties. Writers can choose from potential residencies at Woodbridge, the East Perth Cemeteries, Peninsular Farm in Maylands, Samson House Cottage in Fremantle or the Curtin Family Home in Cottesloe.

INSPIRE is an exciting opportunity for Western Australian writers to undertake a residency in one of five National Trust properties in the Perth metropolitan area, between June and September 2021. Benefits include opportunities for research, creative and professional development, encouraging excellence in writing and nurturing connections with potential publishers.

INSPIRE residencies are open to established and emerging Western Australian writers of non-fiction, history, creative fiction, novels, short stories, poetry, graphic illustrators and digital creators (such as podcasts and blogs). Collaborating writers, or small groups, may apply but must share one stipend per residency.

We encourage Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander writers and writers from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds to apply.

Writers with disability are also encouraged to apply. While each heritage residency has historical physical limitations, however the National Trust will endeavour to meet your access needs wherever possible.

Writers must be 18 or over to be considered for a residency.

The residencies will be up to three weeks (15 days) in length and a stipend of $5000 will be paid to each writer. The National Trust will negotiate with the writers about how they wish to use the 15 days, whether in a full-time three-week block or on a part-time basis across a longer timeframe. The timing of the residency is also flexible, where the writer is available at different times of the day, or wishes to experience the location at night. Please note, only one of the heritage sites offered in this initiative provides live-in accommodation on availability (Curtin Family Home in Cottesloe).

We ask that the successful writers in residence engage with the public, writing industry and/or community of interest to consult, research, present or demonstrate their explorations and research findings undertaken while the heritage property. Opportunities may include participating in the National Trust’s annual Australian Heritage Festival or other public forum.

Closing dates and timelines

Applications for residencies in 2021 will close Monday 19 April 2021. Applications will be accepted electronically only and must be received by midnight.

Applicants will be notified in May 2021.

The five residencies will take place between June and September 2021.

For details on INSPIRE and how to submit your application, please follow the links below to download the information pack or to access the submissions page.

Information Pack   Submissions

For further information please contact:

Ricky Arnold
Writer in Residence Program Coordinator

INSPIRE is proudly supported by


Hear from last year’s INSPIRE Writers in Residence

In 2020, four INSPIRE residencies were awarded to Sasha Wasley, Melinda Tognini, Madison Godfrey and Ros Thomas. The value of the residency is stated in their own words:

Every writer has three wishes: time to write, money for writing and the opportunity to do meaningful research. The Inspire residency was extremely valuable to me as it allowed me these three things – all of which I needed to develop and build my writing career. The National Trust properties are excellent sources of information and inspiration for writers. For me, working on a historical novel set in WA, I was able to tap into the rich sources of information that the properties, their archival materials and libraries, photo collections and perhaps more than any of these, the volunteers and staff, could provide. All of these have enabled me to build a strong knowledge base to write about my chosen era. Additionally, the beauty and riverside locations of these properties added to the value of the residency, providing a calming and inspirational space for me to pursue creative work.
— Sasha Walsey

As my residency draws to a close, I currently have the kernels for five stories. They may end up as individual short stories, but they might become different elements of a novel, as the ideas are becoming increasingly interlinked as I write. One of these has come directly from information about Samson House (and more specifically out of the one-bedroom cottage on the property). Two others are indirectly linked to Samson House, due to its proximity to both Fremantle Prison (a young girl who escaped from there in 1943) and the Fremantle Arts Centre (which was home to the US Navy during the Second World War). Yet another story is emerging from the location of John Curtin’s home because of its nearness to the Ocean Beach Hotel, which entertained US servicemen during the Second World War. None of these stories would have emerged without the time spent at Samson House and in John Curtin’s home. I have no doubt that these stories are developing because of both the National Trust locations themselves and the dedicated time to research and the opportunity of consistently turning up to the page. As a result of the writing residency, I am even more determined to replicate this regular time allocation as a way of sustaining my writing in 2021. I am excited as to where these stories might lead.
Melinda Tognini

The Inspire program provides writers with a rare opportunity to focus wholeheartedly on their creative practice. The inclusion of a stipend for participants meant that I could pause all my other commitments, and focus on writing new work without stressing about how I was going to pay rent afterwards. This is an opportunity I am very grateful for.
— Madison Godfrey, who won the Tom Collins Poetry Prize, run by the Fellowship of Australian Writers WA, with her poem ‘Unmade’ written while Writer in Residence at Peninsula Farm in late 2020.

INSPIRE heritage locations

Samson House, along with its contents from 2 generations of the Samson family, was left to the people of Western Australia by Sir Frederick Samson. ‘Fred’ was elected to the Fremantle City Council in 1936 and became mayor unopposed in 1951. He remained unchallenged in that office until he retired 21 years later in 1972. His enthusiasm for the port city led to him becoming known as ‘Mr Fremantle’. His legacy includes a range of industrial developments and protection and reuse of heritage buildings.

Samson House was built for Sir Frederick’s father, Michael Samson, who was also Lord Mayor of Fremantle. Michael was the son Lionel Samson, one of two brothers who arrived in Western Australia aboard the Calista in 1829. They established an import export business which continues today making it one of the oldest family businesses in Australia.

Samson House, completed in 1888, is a well-known Fremantle landmark designed by Sir Talbot Hobbs.

Residency includes access to a writing space in the small cottage in the grounds of Samson House, Wi-Fi and basic kitchen facilities. It is close to public transport and walking distance to Fremantle. No overnight accommodation available. There are standard toilet facilities in the house, but no disability access toilet on site.

Captain James Stirling took up land here in 1829. He named his property ‘Woodbridge’ as it reminded him of the area around the home of his wife’s family in Surrey, England. Stirling had a small cottage built but spent little time there. At the end of his term as Governor in 1839, Stirling left the colony and leased the property to various tenants.

Charles Harper married Fanny de Burgh in 1879 and the following year took up a lease at Woodbridge. In 1883 land was purchased and the Harpers began the construction of a large family home. Two years later, Charles, Fanny, their three sons and one daughter moved into the completed house. Over the following decade three more boys and three girls were born. The family was supported by live in staff and others who came in for specific tasks.

Woodbridge supported extensive orchards of apples, pears, peaches and table grapes and there was a commercial nursery mainly stocking fruit trees and vines. Charles worked on the development of various wheat varieties, pioneered the use of artesian water for agricultural purposes, developed an inexpensive fencing system and improved pastures through the use of clover and superphosphate. Additionally, he served as a parliamentarian, was part owner of The West Australian newspaper and started The Western Mail.

In 1895 Charles established a school in the house for his children and those of neighbours. A small single storied school building was erected in 1900. It was purchased a decade later by the Church of England and went on to become what is now Guildford Grammar School. For twenty years from 1921 the house operated as Woodbridge House School. During World War II it was used as the Old Women’s Home before its conversion in 1964 to an annexe for Governor Stirling Senior High School. Woodbridge was vested in the National Trust in 1968.

Residency includes access to a writing space, Wi-Fi, basic kitchen facilities and toilet access. There is a café on site and it is close to public transport and cycle paths. The Residency space is upstairs, without lift facilities. No overnight accommodation available.

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