Now if only the rest of the world had taken it up.
Aussie rules kicked off by Aborigines
Detail from an etching of Aborigines playing 'kick-to-kick' near Mildura, made by scientist William Blandowski in 1857.
Photo: Museum Victoria
September 21, 2007 - 2:33PM
An etching of Aborigines playing "kick-to-kick" near Mildura could be the first record of Australian football, experts say.
The black-and-white image, created from Victorian scientist William Blandowski's 1857 observations, precedes Australia's first known game of football - a match between Scotch College and Melbourne Grammar in 1858.
Dr Patrick Greene, Museum Victoria's chief executive, was thrilled with the historic find, which could ignite debate on Australian Rules Football's origins.
"We're suggesting this could be the first image of football in Australia," Dr Greene said.
"We're encouraging debate on this and if anyone can come up with earlier images."
The etching, created by German artist Gustav Mutzel in 1862, was unearthed recently during research for a Blandowski exhibition in Mildura.
It is believed Blandowski took his observations back home to Germany where he instructed Mutzel to etch the Aborigines playing football.
Blandowski returned to Europe after falling out with his Victorian colleagues, the museum confirmed.
"This is a remarkable image and we at the museum are delighted to be able to publicise its discovery," Dr Greene said.
"If what we are seeing is indeed an Australian 'football' game, involving both marking and kicking, then this image may be the earliest yet known."
Blandowski's 1857 notes describe a game played by the Yerre Yerre people near Merbein in Victoria's north-west.
"The ball is made out of typha roots - it is not thrown or hit with a bat but it is kicked up in the air with the foot," Blandowski wrote.
"Aim of the game: never let the ball touch the ground."
AFL spokesman Patrick Keane said Tom Wills, who was influential in establishing the rules of Australian football, spent time with an Aboriginal community who played Marn Gook [sic], a game similar to football.
"The Aborigines played a sport that had elements we use in AFL," Mr Keane said.
"We have acknowledged their game (Marn Gook [sic]) in our history."
The picture is on exhibition at the Mildura Arts Centre until November 21.
Ah, what a strange week at work. The longer the election announcement is delayed, the stranger it will get.