Announcing a new national art prize for Hervey Bay Regional Gallery


After years of remodelling and upgrade, the Hervey Bay Regional Gallery (HBRG) is entering a new chapter of excellence with the launch on a new national art prize.

Girra: Fraser Coast National Art Prize invites entries from artists working in any visual art medium from across Australia, offering a $25,000 major acquisitive prize.

HBRG Director and judge Ashleigh Whatling said entrants are invited to submit works that demonstrate a conceptual engagement with the intersection of people, place and the environment.

“Entrants are encouraged to consider an expanded approach to the theme — Girra is not another landscape prize,” she said.

“Entries are encouraged from contemporary artists working in any visual art form, including but not limited to painting, drawing, sculpture, photography, installation, performance, and video.”

Home of the Butchulla people, the region’s unique natural features include the world’s largest sand island K’gari and its surrounding waters, recognised as the world’s first Whale Heritage Site.

Girra: Fraser Coast National Art Prize draws its name from the Butchulla word for sand, a vital component of the region’s landscape.

“As a title, Girra is both emblematic of the Fraser Coast region and a conceptual provocation that encourages artists to consider how their practice relates to the natural environment,” she said.  

“Girra, or sand, forms our saltwater coasts, freshwater riverbeds, and dry desert interior, shaped over millennia by the tides and winds.

“Sand forms the foundation of our cities, mined and rendered into concrete or melted into glass.

“A ubiquitous presence in the Australian landscape, sand reveals the sensitive, cyclical, and reciprocal relationship between people and place.”

Entries for the inaugural prize open from 1 May 2023 and close 26 June 2023 and will be judged by HBRG Director Ashleigh Whatling, Artist Fiona Foley and UQ Art Museum Senior Curator Peta Rake.

“Their work will become a significant early acquisition for the newly focused art collection of the Fraser Coast,” Ms Whatling said.

The finalists’ exhibition will be held at the HBRG from 23 September to 12 November 2023.

For more information on the prize or to sign up for regular updates about the prize and other Hervey Bay Regional Gallery projects, visit

Additional background

After being closed for two years for extensive refurbishment and strategic planning, Hervey Bay Regional Gallery reopened to the public in April 2022.

Through its curatorial and engagement programs HBRG platforms hyper-local stories with timely and nationally significant themes.

Hervey Bay Regional Gallery aims to become a leader in our commitment to platforming Butchulla perspectives, truth-telling, and the exploration of complex histories and contemporary identities of the Fraser Coast region through art.

Girra Fraser Coast National Art Prize