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Nearly 90 years ago a game of Rugby League was organised between two Indigenous teams from Nowra and La Perouse.

It was played in July 1935 at Bode’s Oval in North Wollongong and won 8-6 by Nowra.

The man behind the ‘All Blacks game’, as it was called at the time, was the late George Hanley who not only drove the bus to get the players to the match but he fashioned a boomerang to mark the occasion.

Since George’s death in 1968, the boomerang passed to his son Bob Hanley OAM (left, pictured above), who then passed it onto one of his sons, Dr Mark Hanley (right).

After 88 years the boomerang now has a new ‘home’ – the museum in the foyer of NSWRL’s Centre of Excellence in Sydney Olympic Park.

“Time passes and we all move on but this is one of those pieces of heritage that we all value,” Dr Hanley said

“They need to be recognised, otherwise they get forgotten.

“It just seemed as though this was a better forum to display the boomerang for fans of the sport rather than in our family home.

“Some of the descendants of those players might be interested to see their family names on the boomerang.” 

Its creator was quite the mover and shaker in Wollongong – George Hanley Drive was named after him.

He was a carpenter by trade – he made the furniture for Wollongong cathedral - but also a keen sportsman.

Rugby League was one of his passions as he was president of the local Wollongong club but another was surf life saving – he founded the Wollongong SLSC. He was also Deputy Mayor of Wollongong.

“When my grandfather died, they closed the main street of Wollongong and a surfboat full of flowers led the funeral procession,” Dr Hanley said.

Acknowledgement of Country

New South Wales Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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