A small number of Aboriginal artefacts in a regional British museum in Exeter have been identified as rare survivors of Australia's first ever cricket tour of England in 1868.
The wooden artefacts in Exeter's Royal Albert Memorial Museum include a boomerang, several clubs, two spear-throwers, two spears, two 'parrying sticks' and firesticks.
Visiting Australian curator Dr Gaye Sculthorpe made the discovery at the Royal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery (RAMM) in Devon, in England's south-west. Dr Sculthorpe recognised the name of the donor – WR Hayman, the manager of the Aboriginal cricket team that toured England in 1868.
|Station cricket match at Mt Talbot Station|
In 1865, station cricket was so popular a match was organised between the Europeans and Aborigines. Hayman of Lake Wallace station formed a cricket club including Aboriginals. The All-Aboriginal team, was coached in Edenhope by Thomas Wentworth Wills (of Australian football fame, the Wills family held Lexington, La Rose & Mokepille stations) and managed by William Hayman. Englishman Charles Lawrence organised a tour of England for the team in 1868.
As well as playing cricket, the tourists demonstrated traditional skills such as boomerang and spear throwing, and some ‘other’ sports - dodging cricket balls thrown at them; the running high jump; the standing high jump; a water bucket race; 100 yards running backwards, and vaulting with poles, before and after the cricket matches.
The team played a 47-match tour from May to October, then they had a brief holiday in Devon, where William Hayman had been born, and where his family still lived.
The museum had not known the objects were associated with the cricket tour. The only Aboriginal artefact known to have survived from the tour was a single Aboriginal club in the MCC Museum at Lord's. Hayman donated the artefacts to RAMM in October 1868 (the year the Museum opened) as the team sailed from Plymouth.
Johnny Mullagh, the original hung in the Harrow Hall till it burned down in the 1970s
Dr Sculthorpe, said the artefacts were “of great significance as tangible evidence of this historic tour, the first Australian cricket tour to England."
|The boomerang artefact|
Information from various newspapers and media releases