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The National Museum of Australia is temporarily closed to the public until further notice. Read more in our coronavirus statement

  • Closed
  • Free general admission

As we explore our rich online resources during COVID-19, today we're focusing on sport, which is such an important part of Australia’s story. Our hopes and histories have been played out in sporting arenas.

Part of our collection is shared via Google Arts and Culture, telling stories of great sporting moments and what they reveal about our nation. But there are so many more incredible sporting moments in our vault. Here are our favourite pieces about some of our favourite sports.

Cricket

Last week we shared one of our favourite sporting Defining Moments on social media: the first Australian cricket tour in England, in May 1868.

Black and white reproduction photograph of a cricket team of eleven men, six of whom are seated. They are outside in front of a building.
The Aboriginal cricket team who played the Melbourne Cricket Club on Boxing Day 1866, captained by Tom Wills
Four women on the field line up to catch a football during an AFL game. - click to view larger image
Historic first game of the AFLW

The team consisted of 13 Aboriginal men from the western district of Victoria. They played 47 matches against intermediate-level English amateur teams between May and October 1868.

The tour made headlines in England and Australia and continues to be a significant moment in Australia’s cricketing history.

Women’s AFL

In February 2017, the Collingwood Magpies and the Carlton Blues made history.

They played the first premiership game of the Australian Football League Women’s (AFLW) competition at Ikon Park in Melbourne, Victoria.

While the season this year came to an unplanned end, the AFLW is still going strong, with 14 teams in the competition across the nation.

Melbourne Cup

A silver-gilt chased cup with gold leaf, consisting of a base, cup and lid. The cup is decorated with silver foliage designs and two silver horse heads on either side. A central shield is inscribed with the words ''MELBOURNE / CUP / 1866 / WON BY / MR JOHN TAIT'S / BLK. H. The Barb / 3 years'. Two cherubs are attached to the ornate handles at the top of neck, and an angel holding a wreath sits on the top of the lid. The circular base is painted black. - click to view larger image
The 1866 Melbourne Cup won by The Barb

No discussion on Australian sport is complete without the race that stops the nation, Melbourne Cup.

We’ve got an incredible interactive where you can discover details about Flemington Racecourse. Explore the workings and discover the wonders of the Melbourne Cup site.

Rugby

It's the clash of the codes: rugby league versus rugby union.

Back in 2008 we had ABC Canberra sports reporter Tim Gavel, Brumbies media manager Nick Smith, Canberra Raiders media manager Ben Pollock and National Museum curator Guy Hansen chat to us about the pros and cons of each.

Listen to their thoughts and let us know yours! Join the conversation and comment below.

02 Mar 2008

Clash of the codes: rugby union vs rugby league

The relative merits of rugby union and rugby league football are debated by ABC Canberra sports reporter Tim Gavel, Brumbies media manager Nick Smith, Canberra Raiders media manager Ben Pollock and National Museum curator Guy Hansen.
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Presenters: Tim Gavel, Guy Hansen, Ben Pollock and Nick Smith
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We’ll keep bringing objects, collections, exhibitions and programs from the vault as part of the Museum from home experience. Stay tuned!

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