Trophies, photographs, uniforms and a variety of other memorabilia highlighting the achievements of Indigenous sports players will go on display at the Richmond River Historical Society on Friday.
The exhibition ‘Goories playing sports’ has been put together by Southern Cross University and the Society to coincide with the NSW Aboriginal Rugby League Knockout Carnival in Lismore which starts on Saturday.
Dr Adele Wessell, Southern Cross University historian, said there had been a fantastic response from the community.
“The Northern Star has donated 42 photographs and we have at least as many again from members of the community. We also have received lots of trophies and other memorabilia,” Dr Wessell said.
“One of the items is a 1914 rugby league trophy which is on loan from a Lismore barber shop. The Howell Cup, one of the most significant trophies in Australian Rugby League history, was first won by Wallaroos in 1914, the first year of the local competition. It was the first trophy for this region in a sport that has become central to many local Goori communities.
“Another item we have is a scrapbook about Bruce Oliver, who played rugby league for NSW and Newtown in the 1960s. The scrapbook includes his playing contract which included payment of 10 pounds a week.
“We have a uniform and photos donated by Jane Parish (nee Crummy) who played for the Australian Country Women’s Hockey team. We also have trophies donated by Jenny Smith, a well known netball player, and from her brother who received medals for cycling, cricket and football. That is quite common for people to have achieved success in a number of sports.”
Dr Wessell said the exhibition highlighted the importance of sport to the Aboriginal community.
“Aboriginal people played sports before Europeans came here. They enjoyed different occasions to come together for competition, cultural expression and exchange, and meetings with family and friends. These things remain constant throughout Aboriginal history,” she said.
“Sport reflects our society; our values and our history. Goori sports achievements bring all these things together, but they are driven ultimately by the desire to participate, the joy that playing can bring and the passion it arouses.”
Dr Wessell said many of the items had been donated and would become part of a travelling exhibition to other parts of the Northern Rivers region.
The exhibition at the Richmond River Historical Society will begin at 2pm with a Welcome to Country by Aunty Irene Harrington. It will be officially opened by Chris Binge, one of the organisers of the NSW Aboriginal Rugby League Knockout carnival.
The exhibition will remain open over the long weekend from 10am to 4pm and then from Monday to Friday until October 12.
Media contact: Brigid Veale Southern Cross University communications manager, 02 66593006 or 0439 680 748.