Almanac Sport: Geelong’s Sports Museum opens in June


Geelong’s Sports Museum opens in June


As the second city in Victoria, it is appropriate that Geelong opens the second multi-sports museum in the state this month. A long period of planning and preparation has gone into this innovative enterprise that forms part of the newly reconstructed Kardinia Park stadium and sports complex. It is located at the city end of the ground and forms part of the entry to the building so spectators can add a visit to their arrival or departure for games in summer or winter. Schools and other parties can easily access the museum and there is plenty of car parking for visitors.


The exhibitions planned for the museum exploit the latest modern technology and artistic creativity. The displays are capable of being changed and/or rotated so that repeat visits will be encouraged as there will be something new for patrons to encounter. Interactive displays will encourage visitors to become physically involved in the experience and  able to modify the material to suit their interests and add to their knowledge.


Though football and cricket form a key part of the experience a whole range of sports are involved, and their histories can be explored from the middle of the nineteenth century to the present day, with even hints about the future possible. Geelong’s many indigenous sports men and women are recognised including superstars like Cadel Evans and John Landy. Among the elite women recognised are Simone McKinnis in netball, Bev Francis, bodybuilding and Jessica Gallagher, paralympic cycling. Visitors will find many others whose names are less well known or remembered today.


Indigenous sports stars include Poorne Yarriworri, known better by his European given name of Albert ‘Pompey’ Austin who had a single game for Geelong football club against Melbourne in 1872. He was a top hurdler and all-round athlete, cricketer, probably a boxer and rode his own horse to victory in a race. The next Indigenous players to turn out in the Victorian Football League did not do so until the inter-war years when Alf Egan and Doug (later Sir Douglas) Nicholls played for Carlton and Fitzroy respectively.


Another 19th century Indigenous athlete was Dan Nan Nook who appeared at the Communn na Feinne’s Highland Games in 1860.[1] He won a foot race that year and came second in another and in the long jump and is recognised in a display at the Sports Museum and by a children’s playground in St Leonards. Dan Nan Nook died in 1870. He had no children.



Communn na Feinne’s medal. Museum of Victoria.


At the Comunn na Feine Highland Games in 1878 the successful appearance of yet another Indigenous athlete was reported.


In the foot races, the Advertiser reported that, “a blackman’ (sic) E. McKinnon, who resides in the Barrabool Hills won the Handicap 300 yards Flat race. In his stature and also in his style of running, he resembles very much the well-known Pompey, but is, if anything, of heavier build”. McKinnon showed this win was no fluke when he went on to win the hurdle prize with comparative ease, even though penalized one yard for a false start.[2]


So now we know of at least three first class Indigenous athletes competing in and around Geelong in the second half of the nineteenth century.




[1]                Kerry Cardell, Cliff Cummin & Robert Bakker, Commun na Feinne, 1856-1946: More than a Pub Name, Peter Diggins, 2018, pp. 24–26. The authors quote his Aboriginal name as Coighcoighquhohoaghm, but are unsure where this came from and whether this might be an attempt to render his name as spoken into English.


[2]                Cardell et al. Commun na Feinne, p. 142.



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  1. Colin Ritchie says

    I was not aware of this development Roy but it will obviously be a fantastic asset, I look forward to visiting once opened.

  2. Bernard Whimpress says

    Thanks for this Roy and lovely to see the breadth of scope with the collection. Also that a museum is afforded a place and space as most sports grounds invariably put primary emphasis on catering and gymnasiums. I should know as I faced an ultimately losing battle after being curator of the ADelaide Oval Museum from 1994-2009. I continued to curate four more exhibitions at the ground (2010-17) but the museum disappeared and there is no overall interpretation of the multiple uses of the ground although I have pulled some of this together in my 2022 book, Adelaide Oval 1865-1939: A History.

  3. Thank you Roy for informing us of a new multi sports museum in Geelong and where more appropriate than at Kardinia Park..
    Great to see indigenous sports stars included.
    I hope Tom Wills, given his connections to Geelong and for pioneering Australian Football is suitably
    Also, the champion cyclist Russell Mockridge.

  4. The Cleaner says


  5. The Cleaner says

    Redders !

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