Beaudesert teacher wins University of Queensland literary award

AWARDS: Luke Stegemann with his trophy for best non-fiction book. Photo: Supplied

AWARDS: Luke Stegemann with his trophy for best non-fiction book. Photo: Supplied

BEAUDESERT State High School teacher Luke Stegemann has brought home the University of Queensland Non Fiction Book Award for his latest offering Amnesia Road.

Five books were shortlisted and Mr Stegemann was awarded the first prize trophy at a presentation night held at the State Library on Thursday night.

Amnesia Road describes the sometimes violent histories of towns in south-west Queensland and rural Andalusia in southern Spain.

Stegemann said the idea for Amnesia Road came when he was travelling through Queensland towns including Charleville and St George.

"These are largely neglected areas, never featured in tourism promotions and very little is written about them," he said.

"I really fell in love with the landscape and during my research I found terrible things happened there in the past."

The author said he drew comparisons between the lesser-known legacies of these Queensland rural communities and those of small towns in southern Spain.

"I have a connection with Spain," he said.

"There were massacres in small villages there that were covered up and silenced. I started to think about killings in beautiful landscapes ... of people who were just forgotten.

"I went to libraries in St George, Mitchell, Cunnamulla and Roma and dug out old diaries and parish histories, all the stuff that doesn't make it into the history books."

Stegemann said Amnesia Road highlighted the beauty of the Queensland rural landscape as well as taking a hard look at the dark and tragic history often associated with the areas described.

He said the awards night was exciting.

"It was enormously gratifying to be recognised for years of hard work and to know that the book had landed in the right places with the right people," Mr Stegemann said.

"The book celebrates Queensland, specifically parts of south-west Queensland and investigates the history of the region in an understanding and forgiving way.

"I believe that unless we understand the complex motives behind what people have done in the past we can never forgive and move forward together."