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Aboriginal Australian cricketer, Faith Thomas (1933-2023), was in a children’s home as a child. 

Faith Coulthard was born to an Adnyamathanha woman and a German migrant. Her mother, Ivy, did not think the Nepabunna Aboriginal mission was the right place for her daughter. So, she placed her in the Colebrook Children’s Home in Quorn, also in South Australia. 

Thomas recalled her time at Colebrook with great fondness. 

I ended up with three wonderful mums – Sister Hyde, Sister Anna and my natural mum. I suppose I was one of the lucky ones. Had I not been in Colebrook, I would’ve never had the opportunities I did have. I consider myself not stolen but chosen. 

Thomas attributed her cricket skills to life in Colebrook, where the children made their own cricket bats and used round stones as balls. She learned to bowl bychuckin’ rocks at galahs.” 

Kids these days have got toys, we had nothing. We lived near a creek. There were plenty of rocks and plenty of galahs in those trees. 

You didn’t need to take a run-up to knock a galah out of the sky. You just picked up a rock and let it fly (Jackson). 

Thomas was one of the first six Aboriginal nurses in Australia and South Australia’s first Aboriginal public servant. She graduated from the Royal Adelaide Hospital in 1954, trained as a midwife at the old Queen Victoria hospital, then worked at the Point McLeay Aboriginal Reserve. 

While working as a midwife, Thomas found out it was possible for women to play cricket. After going out to play for the first time with a workmate on a Saturday, she was soon playing for the state and the country. 

In 1958, Thomas became the first Aboriginal Australian woman to represent Australia in any sport, playing cricket for Australia at the Gabba in Brisbane against England. Her motivation was sheer love of the game. 

We got out there and we played for the fun of it. With all the money around now they have play to win (Jackson). 

Thomas played her final game in the 1960s while married and eight months pregnant. She continued with a highly successful career in Aboriginal health and community services. Thomas was in charge of the Indigenous ward at the Alice Springs Hospital for two years, which she feels is one of her greatest life achievements.  

Cricket is just a sport, but I have looked after a lot of Aboriginal people. It’s really special (ANMF).

Thomas was awarded the Order of Australia in 2019, was an inductee into the South Australian Cricket Association’s Wall of Fame, and the annual Faith Thomas Trophy match is played in her honour. 

Faith Thomas passed away at the age of ninety on April 15, 2023. Her family has given permission for her name and image to be used in reportage of her death. In a statement from Cricket Australia chief executive Nick Hockley, She is remembered for her contributions to the community and sport.

Faith Thomas made a wonderful and groundbreaking contribution to cricket and the community, and this is a very sad day for all those fortunate to have known her or who were touched by her many accomplishments. (National Indigenous Times)



“A Test star who chose nursing over cricket.” Australian Midwifery and Nursing Federation. SA Branch. 9 November 2020. 

“Biographical Entry Thomas, Faith (1933-).” Encyclopedia of Australian Science. 

“Colebrook Home (1927 – 1981).” Find & Connect, 2021. 

Chadwick, Thomas. “Trailblazing Indigenous cricketer Faith Thomas passes away at 90.” National Indigenous Times, 17 April 2023.

George, Gary. “Nepabunna Mission (1931 – 1977).” Find & Connect, 2014. 

Jackson, Russell. “Aboriginal cricket pioneer Faith Thomas: ‘I’m still the fastest woman bowler ever.” The Guardian, 23 December 2016. 

“Message Stick; Faith Thomas.” ABC Television, 2004. 

“Nepabunna Mission (1931-1977).” Find & Connect, 2021.

“Point McLeay Mission Station (1859-1974).” Find & Connect, 2022. 

Image available here.