Redfern All Blacks Memorial team

The Cec Patten Ron Merritt Redfern All Blacks Memorial team at Redfern Oval for the 2004 Koori Knockout (photograph courtesy Amanda James)

bilya – laugh / wunyawuri – make believe, do something in jest / wumara – run as an animal (also fly) / dyanmila – play

Sporting and leisure activities reinforced social connections within Sydney’s Aboriginal community, but they also had a political dimension. From 1964 the Foundation for Aboriginal Affairs helped with housing, employment, education and welfare, as well as organising fundraising dances for the Redfern All Blacks football team. The success of this team was a significant component in the shift towards self-determination within Sydney’s Aboriginal community in the 1960s and 70s.

National Aborigines Day image

Aboriginal organisations in Sydney

Author: Anita Heiss The Australian Aborigines Progressive Association (AAPA), led by Fred Maynard, operated in Sydney from 1924 to 1927 when it was disbanded due to police harassment. In 1932 in Victoria, William Cooper, Bill Onus and Ebenezer Lovett formed Read More

Portraits of Biddy Salamander of the Broken Bay Tribe, Bulkabra Chief of Botany, Gooseberry Queen of Bungaree, as depicted by Charles Rodius in 1834 (Mitchell Library, State Library of NSW - SAFE / PXA 615, Digital Order No. a1114010)

Significant Aboriginal people in Sydney

Author: Anita Heiss In December 1788, not long after the landing of the First Fleet, Governor Phillip ordered the capture of Arabanoo (born c1758). Arabanoo was dressed in European clothes, trained in English and called Manly (after his place of Read More

Aboriginal Medical Service at 36 Turner Street, behind St Vincent’s Church in Redfern, c1989 (City of Sydney Archives - NSCA CRS 1133/3/97)

Aboriginal involvement with the church

Author: Anita Heiss Much of the early interest in Sydney’s Aboriginal people was as a study of ‘primitives’ in need of salvation. Catholic priests, Fathers Therry and Power baptised around 45 Aboriginal people at St Mary’s Cathedral between 1820 and Read More

Redfern Town Hall in 1871 (photograph courtesy Mitchell Library, State Library of NSW - SPF / 727)

Redfern Town Hall

Town Halls throughout Sydney’s inner suburbs provided large civic spaces that Aboriginal organisations used to gather and socialise for leisure activities and political meetings. Aboriginal activist William Ferguson was a member of the Aborigines Progressive Association (APA). Key campaign meetings Read More

Sydney Town Hall

Sydney Town Hall

Sydney Town Hall played an important role in the movement towards self-determination from the 1960s onwards. Like other town halls throughout Sydney’s inner suburbs, it was a ‘hall for hire’, providing a large civic space where Aboriginal organisations could gather Read More

Alexandria Town Hall in 1943 (image from  Alexandria, 'the Birmingham of Australia': 75 years of progress, 1868-1943, published by Alexandria Municipal Council, 1943).

Alexandria Town Hall

Town Halls throughout Sydney’s inner suburbs provided large civic spaces that Aboriginal organisations used to gather and socialise for leisure activities and political meetings. Regular dances were organised by the Aboriginal-Australian Fellowship, the Foundation for Aboriginal Affairs and the Redfern Read More

The Empress Hotel

Empress Hotel

The Empress Hotel on Regent Street was frequented by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from the 1940s through to the 1970s. Although it was a place where Aboriginal people were able to drink and socialise freely, it was also Read More

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Clifton Hotel

The Clifton Hotel on Botany Road in Waterloo was a place where Aboriginal people gathered. It was where the decision was made to start the Koori Knockout, and where Bob Bellear decided to pursue a legal career after watching police Read More

Redfern Community Centre

Redfern Community Centre

The Redfern Community Centre, a focus for Aboriginal social and cultural activities in Sydney, is located in a refurbished former factory on The Block. It is surrounded by a landscaped park which is used for recreation and functions. Local Aboriginal Read More

National Centre of Indigenous Excellence

NCIE

Redfern Public School was established in 1879. It educated generations of Aboriginal children living in Redfern and surrounding suburbs during the 20th century. Most students knew the school as George Street Public. In 2006, the buildings and grounds of the Read More

Redfern All Blacks Memorial team

Koori Knockout

The NSW Aboriginal Rugby League Knockout, known to most as the Koori Knockout, has been held annually since 1971. It grew out of a longstanding tradition among Sydney’s Aboriginal community of playing and watching rugby league, starting in the 1930s Read More

Merv ‘Boomanulla’ Williams

Redfern All Blacks

The dynamic and successful Redfern All Blacks rugby league team formed officially in 1944, but may have begun informally a decade earlier. The team attracted talented players from around NSW including Eric ‘Nugget’ Mumbler, Babs Vincent and Merv ‘Boomanulla’ Williams. Read More

Paddington Town Hall

Paddington Town Hall

Town Halls throughout Sydney’s inner suburbs provided large civic spaces that Aboriginal organisations used to gather and socialise for leisure activities and political meetings. Sydney Town Hall was the scene of debutante balls for young Aboriginal girls in the 1950s Read More

Debutantes Ball 1968

Foundation for Aboriginal Affairs

The headquarters of the Foundation for Aboriginal Affairs on George Street was opened in October 1966. In addition to providing welfare support for Aboriginal people migrating to Sydney from regional areas of NSW, the George Street shopfront was a focal Read More