A World of One: Poorne Yarriworri and Australian Sport


  • Roy Hay


Indigenous biography, sports history, Australian culture, Victorian studies, memory


Poorne Yarriworri (c. 1844–1889), better known as Albert ‘Pompey’ Austin, inhabited the smallest possible world—a world of one. He was the only Indigenous person to play top-level Australian football in Victoria in the nineteenth century. He was far more than a footballer and in his brief life he was an athlete (pedestrian, as they were known in those days), cricketer, possibly a boxer, racehorse owner, jockey and horse-breaker, artist, musician, explorer, entertainer and public speaker. His son and grandson carried the ‘Pompey’ name into the next two generations. His memory lingered long after his death but then he was forgotten until he was rediscovered in the late twentieth century. Though he is known to sports historians, his extraordinary life is virtually unknown in the general community. It is time he was given the appreciation his contribution to Australian life and culture deserves.


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