The Barmah Redgummers

“My dad was tidying up the other day when he stumbled upon this little gem. My great uncle Len Maloney is pictured – the youngest bloke in the team. Len’s father ran the pub at Barmah.


We know little about the story of the Redgummers, but the photo gives us a glimpse of another world.


The Barmah forest, adjacent to the Murray, provided the redgum bricks to pave the streets of Melbourne in the days before bitumen. Barmah had a large Indigenous population who were clearly adept at footy. The photo shows they had their own uniform.”


About Reverend Shinboner

Reverend Shinboner grew up in Wangaratta, North-East Victoria, to a football accepting, but not obsessing family. Nevertheless, North Melbourne-supporting lineage dictated the choice in VFL club, who at the time, spent most of their days fighting out the middle-to-lower rungs of the ladder. The brilliance of the Krakouers and regular Friday night coverage ensured interest in the game was maintained. This all changed in 1993, when Rev. Shinboner was sent to boarding school in Melbourne. An introverted and somewhat nerdy Townie, weighing in at 34 kgs, was sent to the wolves. Surrounded by teenage posturing from somewhat over-entitled boys meant fitting in was a day-to-day proposition. At this critical junction two things happened: North Melbourne became contenders and Rev. Shinboner saw his team play at the ‘G for the first time. 25 Friday nights, 3 Preliminary Finals and about 25 kgs later and he could mix it with the best of them. Reverend Shinboner has been connecting with people through football ever since. While the Reverend’s love of North Melbourne has waxed and waned over the years, one incident transformed his relationship with the club forever. In 2002, the North Melbourne players decided they could no longer play alongside the greatest player the club had ever seen. The North officials agreed. Wayne Carey was sacked. Never before had such a statement of principle and character been made by a football club. Anthony Stevens led the team to an inspired victory over a much more fancied Port Adelaide a few days later. For Rev. Shinboner it meant more than the 1999 Premiership. While North Melbourne’s fortunes have since been mired in relocation speculation and a middling team, Rev. Shinboner knows two constants: North Melbourne Football Club will be written off and North Melbourne Football Club will survive. Just as they always have. His love of the club remains at an all time high.


  1. Adam Muyt says

    Blackfellas and Whitefellas together at a time when it wasn’t generally acceptable; a name suggestive of both Country and livelihood; a uniform, meaning it was more than a one off. Has all the makings of an fascinating tale. Intriguing – I want to know more!

  2. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rocket says

    The Aboriginal mission at Cummeraganja in the Barmah forest fielded a footy team in the 1890s in the grandly named Northern District Football Association against Echuca, Echuca East, Moama and Rochester.

    Sir Doug Nichols was a product of Cummeraganja – he went to Fitzroy from Tongala in the GVL.
    Not sure that Cummeraganja had a team in the early 1930s

    As for the Barmah Redgummers it’d be interesting to know more about them.
    Original name.

    Mathoura – a bit further north on the way to Deni – are known as the Timbercutters.
    Tough, hard team

  3. When I was studying at CSU we went along the Murray River and looked at land management issues.

    We spent a day with a bloke called Gordon Walker who spoke of living in Barmah Forest in his childhood. He took us to some places and told us stories of how it was to grow up there. Very positive and open about the issues.

    It is a very spiritual place and remains strongly in my memory. Gordon was / is a great man.

  4. Pamela Sherpa says

    Lovely photo- just a bit firther down the Murray from where I grew up -on the edge of the Gunbower Forest
    Rocket , Sir Doug Nichols was a friend of my grandfather’s from football and athletic days.

  5. Adam Muyt says

    Mmmm, has all the hallmarks of a grand footballing mystery. Looks like another sleuthing job for Dr. Syson…..

  6. Ian Syson says

    I’m a bit worried by the apparent quality of the typeface above the photo. Reverend, is it something done well after the photo was taken — meaning that the time could be wrong?

  7. Ian Syson says

    no luck yet — found a gereyhound called Red Gummer (1947).

  8. Ian – I’ll need to defer to my father on that pertinent question and get back to you.

    But my inkling is that he won’t know either.

  9. Ian Syson says

    A bit more info:

    Barmah football team “Redgummers”. Coach, James Edward Allen, is holding football. Aborigines were from Cummergunga mission – Barmah, VIC

    Date of Work 1905

    Barmah football team “Redgummers”. Back L to R: Jim Allen, Ralph Hill, Capt. Con [Ron ?] Thorpe, Dave Dryden, Jack Dow, Len Maloney, Alf Corry, Stewart Morgan, Hatty Galloway. Centre L to R: Walter Corry, Vern Thorpe, Alf McCann, Albert Johnson, Harry Ryan, Ridley Barber, Cliff Maloney, Johnson McCann. Front L to R: Perty (Percy ?) Barber, Bert Cooper

    Here’s a bigger photo:

  10. Ian Syson says

    Not footy but I found this from 1891

    In a cricket match to day between clubs of the cricket association for Mr Chennal’s trophy, the blacks from Cummergunga Mission Station beat the Rochester club by 25 runs. The match was well contested.

  11. Ian Syson says

    This book would be most valuable here:

    Title Reminiscences of the aboriginal station at Cummeragunga and its aboriginal people
    Author Ronald Morgan
    Publisher Group of friends of the author, 1952
    Original from the University of California
    Digitized Sep 27, 2010
    Length 24 pages
    Social Science



    Aboriginal Australians
    Social Science / Anthropology / Cultural

  12. Wow. Thanks Ian.

    I think I need to talk to Len Maloney’s son about it.

  13. Ian Syson says

    Nice story from 1911. I think I have the scores right — though the print quality was ordinary.


    BENDIGO, Monday. – Despite the unfavourable weather there was a good attendance at the upper reserve today, the chief attraction being the appearance of the Cummeragunga aborigines, who played against South Bendigo. The soddened state of the ground did not suit the style of play of the visitors many of whom took their boots off. The scores were: – South Bendigo 9 goals 8 behinds: Cummeragunga, 3 goals 2 behinds. South Yarra, 9 goals9 behinds, easily beat Eaglehawk, 1 goal.

  14. John Butler says

    Hey, Syson, 1911’s my turf. :)

  15. John Butler says

    Actually, I know what you mean about some of the print quality.

    Scans can be variable. Microfilm likewise.

  16. Noel Maloney says

    I have this photo hanging on my a wall, it has my Grandfather Clif Maloney and his brother Len in it. There is still Maloneys living in the township.

  17. Cummeragunja was a strong team in that era and a Cummera team often played with Echuca Teams or their players supplemented Echuca Teams.

    A Good Example is Echuca 1907 which featured 6 Cummera Players .
    Sporting Intelligence. (1907, June 14). Riverine Herald (Echuca, Vic. : Moama, NSW : 1869 – 1954), p. 2. Retrieved March 16, 2014, from

    In regard to the photo above – Probably Moira Local Competition 1905 – Ref:
    FOOTBALL. (1905, September 2). Riverine Herald (Echuca, Vic. : Moama, NSW : 1869 – 1954), p. 2. Retrieved March 16, 2014, from

  18. Mark McCann says

    My great grandfather is in this pic. Johnson McCann Great pic, it used to be in the Barmah Pub. Now in safe hands.

  19. Elizabeth Stockwell says

    Just stumbled across this photo I am the granddaughter of Florence Emily McCann and John James Clark .Many Memories of School holidays in Barmah . Some of the names in this photo are very familiar from my childhood. As child I felt like I was related to everyone in Barmah as we called everyone Uncle and Aunty and thought all the kids our age was must be our cousins. I am going to Rabaul New Guinea in 2017 and will visit the grave of Private Andrew McCann ( (son of Alfred and Mary McCann) Andrew was killed at the age of 23 in world war two and is buried at the War Memorial in Rabul. I remember my father Jack Clark (son of Jack and Florence ) telling me the story of Andrew when I was about 9 and thinking is was just so awful that this young man was killed in such a way. Thanks for the memories. Elizabeth Stockwell Ne Clark

Leave a Comment