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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.

Heather McKay, 1980

Ern McQuillan

gelatin silver photograph on paper (image/sheet: 40.5 cm x 30.3 cm)

Heather McKay AO MBE (b.1941), squash champion, dominated the game worldwide for sixteen years and was the first to be inducted into the Women’s International Squash Players Association Hall of Fame. Selected to play hockey for Australia as a Queanbeyan schoolgirl, she took up squash at 17 to maintain her fitness. In 1960, the year after she first played squash, she won the first of her fourteen Australian Amateur Championships; from 1961 to 1973 she also won the NSW Championships and the Victorian Championships. From 1967 to 1971 she was also a member of the Australian Women’s Hockey Team. Beaten only twice at squash in her entire career, she won the British Open titles every year from 1962 to 1977. She turned professional in January 1976, winning the inaugural Women’s World Open Squash Championship in 1976 before moving to Toronto to coach. While this move barred her from defending her British Open Title, she managed to win the Women’s World Open Squash Championships and the US Amateur Women’s Racquetball titles in 1979. In 1980-81 and 1983-84 she was the USA Women’s Professional Racquetball Champion. On her return to Australia in 1985 she helped to create the Australian Institute of Sport squash unit. In 2001 she won the ITF World Veterans’ Championship in the 60-64 age group. McKay is a serious contender for the title of Australia’s greatest-ever sportswoman.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Purchased with funds provided by L Gordon Darling AC CMG 2004
© Estate of Ern McQuillan

Accession number: 2004.38

Currently not on display

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Artist and subject

Ern McQuillan (age 54 in 1980)

Heather McKay AO MBE (age 39 in 1980)

Subject professions

Sports and recreation

Related information

The Companion

Permanent collection catalogue

Café and shop

On one level The Companion talks about the most famous and frontline Australians, but on another it tells us about ourselves: who we read, who we watch, who we listen to, who we cheer for, who we aspire to be, and who we'll never forget. The Companion is available to buy online and in the Portrait Gallery Store.

Betty Cuthbert, 1955 (printed 2003) Ern McQuillan
Betty Cuthbert, 1955 (printed 2003) Ern McQuillan
Betty Cuthbert, 1955 (printed 2003) Ern McQuillan
Betty Cuthbert, 1955 (printed 2003) Ern McQuillan

Hop, skip, shoot

Magazine article by Simon Elliott, 2004

Former NPG Deputy Director, Simon Elliott talks with Ern McQuillan about his life and career as a sports photographer.

Andy Thomas, 2002 Montalbetti+Campbell
Andy Thomas, 2002 Montalbetti+Campbell
Andy Thomas, 2002 Montalbetti+Campbell
Andy Thomas, 2002 Montalbetti+Campbell

Uncommon Australians

The vision of Gordon and Marilyn Darling

Previous exhibition, 2015

This exhibition showcases portraits acquired through the generosity of the National Portrait Gallery’s Founding Patrons, L Gordon Darling AC CMG and Marilyn Darling AC.

Portrait of Professor Graeme Clark, 2000 Peter Wegner
Portrait of Professor Graeme Clark, 2000 Peter Wegner
Portrait of Professor Graeme Clark, 2000 Peter Wegner
Portrait of Professor Graeme Clark, 2000 Peter Wegner

Portraits for Posterity

Previous exhibition, 2006

Drawn from some of the many donations made to the Gallery's collection, the exhibition Portraits for Posterity pays homage both to the remarkable (and varied) group of Australians who are portrayed in the portraits and the generosity of the many donors who have presented them to the Gallery.

We would like to thank our partners.
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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.