Trailblazing women celebrated

April 5, 2024 BY

Looking back: The Bendigo community gathered at Queen Elizabeth Oval last Friday to commemorate 150 years since the first recorded women's cricket match. Photo: SUPPLIED

LAST Friday saw the community gather to commemorate one hundred and fifty years since the first recorded women’s cricket match was played at Camp Hill, now known as Rosalind Park.

The event held at Queen Elizabeth Oval included a visit from cricket stars Cathryn Fitzpatrick and Kelly Applebee who held a girls’ cricket clinic.

Participants in the all-abilities clinic then became part of the guard for the match between Bendigo and Ballarat.

Clothing worn by nineteenth century players was also on show, demonstrating the challenging requirements faced by women who wanted to play sport.

Mayor Cr Andrea Metcalf said the match in 1874 is an important part of history.

“It is incredible to think that the first recorded women’s game in Australia happened right here in Bendigo when the Blues won by 21 runs over the Reds,” she said.

“This a historic milestone in women’s sporting history as these players faced many barriers and discrimination for wanting to play cricket publicly.

“It’s a moment to reflect on the courage of these 22 women who made a stand and led the way for women’s cricket in Australia, which is now going from strength to strength.

Diane Robertson, the great granddaughter of Barbara Rae, who played in the first match and was the top scorer, watched the commemorative game.

Ms Robertson was presented with a special bat donated by Cricket Australia to recognise her great grandmother’s achievements.

“I am delighted to learn that my great grandmother, Barbara Rae, was a trailblazer for women’s cricket,” she said.

“Although these women cricketers had a lot of local support, they also endured extreme criticism.

“The women were courageous, talented, and inspiring.”