The 2023 Wes Smythe Award for a Community and Rugby League Project

Picturing the Yarrabah Seahawks: Rugby League and Aboriginal Community Identity and Pride is the recipient of the 2023 Wes Smythe Award for a Community and Rugby League Project. The project, led by Yarrabah Seahawks president Samuel Bann, is a collaboration between the Yarrabah Seahawks, the Yarrabah Aboriginal Shire Council, and Dr Gary Osmond from The University of Queensland. It aims to locate and reproduce historic images of the Yarrabah Seahawks to complement an on-going project documenting the club’s history through oral histories and empirical research. 

Yarrabah has a long history of rugby league at community level, All Blacks carnivals, women’s and men’s team, and juniors. From the 1970s Yarrabah players have been active in leagues in Cairns and the wider region, with Yarrabah players instrumental to the success of the Babinda Colts from the late 1970s onwards. The decision of the CDRL to admit the Seahawks in the 2000 season marked the successful culmination of a long and determined community campaign to gain entry and was widely celebrated.

The Wes Smythe award will assist the club in building up a collection of photographs of the club to enhance a sense of identity and history.