Koori Knockout: 50 years

Koori Knockout: 50 years

Over 30,000 spectators. Countless sporting heroes. One tournament. Take a front row seat in this major celebration of First Nations sporting excellence.

Exhibition
Saturday 24 September 2022 to Sunday 27 August 2023
Admission: Free

Location

Koori Knockout: 50 years

 

 

In 1971 at the Clifton Hotel in Redfern, six young First Nations men created what is today the largest gathering of First Nations peoples in NSW — known as the Koori Knockout. This year more than 30,000 players and spectators are expected to arrive on the NSW South Coast as this, one of the most popular First Nations sporting events in Australia, marks its 50th anniversary. 

In this exhibition, follow the competition from those early days played at Camdenville Oval, St Peters with just seven men’s teams in the first Knockout, to becoming a fixture in the First Nations calendar and the biggest rugby league knockout carnival anywhere in the world.  

See the first-ever Knockout trophy along with other important memorabilia, and hear stories, oral histories and recordings from those who have helped shape the competition over the years. Experience the excitement and joy of game days with the State Library's collection of photos and see the amazing talent that is showcased — from young rising stars to football legends like Greg Inglis. 

Join the celebrations as together with the Koori Knockout community we recognise and celebrate this important and enduring event in Australian sporting history.

View a selection of photographs and interviews from the exhibition

Newcastle All Blacks captain Randall Briggs holds the winner’s trophy aloft
Newcastle All Blacks captain Randall Briggs holds the winner’s trophy aloft, Dubbo, Wiradjuri Country
2018
Barbara McGrady
Digital ID: 
n/a
View collection item detail
Koori Knockout supporters in stands, seated and standing.
Koori Knockout supporters from Moree, Dubbo, Wiradjuri Country
1 October 2015
Barbara McGrady
Digital ID: 
n/a
View collection item detail
Players from the Tingha Cubs run after a Redfern All Blacks player with the ball
Tingha Cubs v Redfern All Blacks Women’s Final, Koori Knockout, Bathurst, Wiradjuri Country
2011
Jamie James
Digital ID: 
n/a
View collection item detail
Group of players celebrate with arms in the air. One player is lifted on their shoulders.
About this item: 

The Cec Patten–Ron Merritt Memorial Redfern All Blacks, lift captain Graeme Merritt in the air after the game.

Grand final winners of the 2004 Koori Knockout, Redfern Oval, Sydney, Gadigal Country
4 October 2004
Jamie James
Digital ID: 
n/a
View collection item detail
Group of children stand on mound.
Koori Knockout, Henson Park, Marrickville, Gadigal Country
1992
Ellen Comiskey
Digital ID: 
n/a
View collection item detail

The Point journalist Breanna Holden speaks with Koori Knockout founding members Bob Morgan and Victor Wright, and tours the Koori Knockout: 50 years exhibition at the State Library with curator Ronald Briggs.

First aired on NITV on Tuesday September 27, 2022

Koori Knockout: 50 years

Koori Knockout founding members Bob Morgan and Victor Wright speak to NITV.
Two men are in conversation at a table
Caption on bottom

The Point journalist Breanna Holden speaks with Koori Knockout founding members Bob Morgan and Victor Wright, and tours the Koori Knockout: 50 years exhibition at the State Library with curator Ronald Briggs.

First aired on NITV on Tuesday September 27, 2022

Ricky Walford is a former professional rugby league footballer who played in the 1980s and 1990s. Filmed in Sydney, New South Wales. 

Ricky Walford discusses the Koori Knockout

Interview with Ricky Walford, Bundjalung/Kamilaroi
Still from Koori Knockout exhibition video of Ricky Walford
Caption on bottom

Ricky Walford is a former professional rugby league footballer who played in the 1980s and 1990s. Filmed in Sydney, New South Wales. 

Former Armidale Narwan Eels players, Dennis Moran, Dean Widders and Jake Widders, Anaiwan. Filmed at the Rugby League Museum, Moore Park, Gadigal Country.

Armidale Narwan Eels

Interview with Armidale Narwan Eels players.
Still from video of Former Armidale Narwan Eels players, Dennis Moran, Dean Widders and Jake Widders.
Caption on bottom

Former Armidale Narwan Eels players, Dennis Moran, Dean Widders and Jake Widders, Anaiwan. Filmed at the Rugby League Museum, Moore Park, Gadigal Country.

Victor Wright is a founding member of the NSW Aboriginal Rugby League Knockout Carnival. Filmed at Victor Wright’s home, New South Wales.

Koori Knockout origin story

Interview with Victor Wright, Dhungutti/Anaiwan.
Still of Victor Wright from Koori Knockout exhibition video.
Caption on bottom

Victor Wright is a founding member of the NSW Aboriginal Rugby League Knockout Carnival. Filmed at Victor Wright’s home, New South Wales.

Acknowledgments

We would like to pay special thanks and acknowledge the following people for their stories, their time and their knowledge.

Exhibition reference group:

Bill Kennedy
Dr Bob Morgan
Danny Rose
Bob Smith
Victor Wright
Jody Jackson
Pam Jackson
the late Dr Dean Jarrett
Prof. Heidi Norman
Eric Robinson
Grace Toomey
Ricky Walford
Melissa Wellington
Dean Widders

Thanks also to:

Jake Widders
Dennis Moran
Lavina Phillips
Kyeema O’Mealy
Melisha Winters
Aaliyah Haumono
Under 16s Redfern All Blacks Girls
South Coast Black Cockatoos
Brad Cooke
Videography by Sam Johnson Impact Policy
Ombudsman New South Wales
State Library of NSW Foundation

 

Curator

Profile photo of curator Ronald Briggs

Ronald Briggs

Ronald Briggs (Gamilaroi) is originally from Moree in central north-western NSW. He has over 30 years of experience working at the State Library of NSW and has also worked with the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies. Most recently Ronald has been part of the Library’s curatorial team, specialising in First Nations people and histories, curating exhibitions and bringing new items and voices into the Library’s collections.

Knocking it out of the park

A photo essay on the Koori Knockout by leading First Nations photographer Barbara McGrady.

Calling the Koori Knockout

One of the most important sporting and cultural events on the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander calendar returns.

Show more