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Australian Aboriginal Cricketers
, 1867

by Patrick Dawson

albumen silver photograph on original lithograph title sheet (sheet: 56.5 cm x 46.5 cm, image: 35.3 cm x 26.0 cm)

The 1868 Aboriginal cricket team was the first Australian sporting team to tour internationally. Its members – including Unaarrimin, or Johnny Mullagh (1841–1891), Johnny Cuzens (d. 1871), Murrumgunarriman, or Twopenny (c. 1845–1883) and Jungunjinanuke, or Dick-a-Dick (d. 1870) – had all begun playing cricket while working as stockmen in western Victoria in the early 1860s. They were organised into a team by squatters Tom Hamilton and William Hayman and first played against clubs in the Wimmera in early 1866. Tom Wills (1835–1880), a former captain of the Rugby School eleven and a co-inventor of Australian Rules football, prepared them for a well-attended game at the Melbourne Cricket Ground in December 1866. In late 1867, Englishman Charles Lawrence (1828–1916), a Sydney publican and professional cricketer, replaced Wills as captain-coach and found financial backing to take the side to England. In May 1868, they played in front of 20 000 at The Oval before a six-month tour that typically saw them contest two or three matches a week, interspersing their cricket with exhibitions of spear- and boomerang throwing. The team won fourteen and drew nineteen of the 47 games they played in England. On return, they disbanded.

Patrick Dawson (active 1866–c.1872) was a surveyor who learnt photography while working in Victoria in the 1850s. By 1866, he had his own studios in Hamilton and Warrnambool and won a medal for his portrait photographs exhibited in the Melbourne Intercolonial Exhibition of that year. Dawson photographed the members of the team and their non-Indigenous managers individually in his Warrnambool studio and issued the portraits in this composite picture.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery, Canberra
Purchased with funds provided by L Gordon Darling AC CMG 2009
Accession number: 2009.134