Australia in the 1770s


Games and competitive sports


 Indigenous Australian communities had a number of games that children and adults played. The variety and circumstance of the game depended on the region from which it came. These games included team sports using handmade balls that were kicked, thrown or hit, games like bowls and marbles using specially made balls, and throwing games using a variety of objects. Wrestling and spinning tops were popular in some areas as were board games drawn on the ground using stones as markers. Model watercraft were used in many coastal areas. In the Torres Strait they had model boat races. String games were also popular in many areas.

One of the most popular games of the Noongar people of south-west Western Australia was 'Komba burrong' (catching hold), the emu feather game. Emu feathers were stuck on a stick and placed on the ground. The game consists of one player defending the stick while other players try to take the feathers off the stick. Variants of this game were played in different regions.

In the Torrens area of South Australia, a wrestling game with emu feathers was sometimes played when a meeting of different groups was held. There were two teams: one team collected a bundle of emu feathers and one or two men from the opposing team tried to take it from them. After a time, all men on both teams joined in and the game became a wrestle. Like games throughout time and place, this is a game for young men to show off their prowess and be seen as the strongest and most skilled player.

A traditional football game is called 'Marngrook' and was played by the Gunditjmara people of the western district in Victoria. It is believed the original Australian Rules Football was similar to this game. The ball was made from kangaroo or possum skin and made in several sizes for different ball games.

A ball game played by young boys living near the Murray and Darling rivers uses a ball made of Typha roots that is kicked up in the air with the foot. The players try to keep the ball in the air and not allow it to touch the ground.


A snapshot of 1778

  • January
    • Captain James Cook began his third Pacific expedition in the ships HMS Resolution and HMS Discovery.

  • February
    • France entered the War of American Independence.

  • June
    • Spain declared war on Great Britain.

  • July
    • Louis XIV of France declared war on Great Britain.

  • November
    • Captain James Cook was the first European to sight Maui Island of the Hawaiian Islands.

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