Between May and October of1868, an Aboriginal Australian Cricket team toured England, becoming the first organised group of Australian sportspeople to travel overseas. International sporting contact was extremely rare in this era. Previously, only three English cricket teams had travelled abroad: to the United States and Canada in 1859 and Australia in 1861–62 and 1863–64.
The Australian team of 11 arrived in London on 13 May 1868 with the Captain and Coach, Charles Lawrence, playing 47 matches over six months, winning 14, losing 14 and drawing 19. Just a month into their tour in June, the team member King Cole died of tuberculosis and was buried in Victoria Park Cemetery, now Meath Gardens in Tower Hamlets. If you visit this garden today, you will find a small memorial plaque to King Cole on a Eucalyptus tree, donated by Hillier Nurseries to the Aboriginal Cricket Association.
Pictured here is the Mullagh Medal, named after the foremost indigenous Australian player of his time, Johnny Mullagh (born Unaarrimin; 13 August 1841 – 14 August 1891). He was the leading player of the 1868 cricket tour, a skilful all-rounder. In 2020, Mullagh was inducted into the Australian Cricket Hall of Fame.