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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.

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


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.

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
Barbara McGrady
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Koori Knockout supporters in stands, seated and standing.
Koori Knockout supporters from Moree, Dubbo, Wiradjuri Country
1 October 2015
Barbara McGrady
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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
Jamie James
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Group of players celebrate with arms in the air. One player is lifted on their shoulders.
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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
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Group of children stand on mound.
Koori Knockout, Henson Park, Marrickville, Gadigal Country
Ellen Comiskey
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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



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.
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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.

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