Touching Harts in NAIDOC Week

2020 winners of the Larry & Rod Hart Touch Carnival


THIS NAIDOC week (4-11 of July 2021) the Coffs Harbour Touch Association will be joining forces with the well-known Hart family to run the Larry and Rod Hart Touch Carnival.

As the upcoming carnival comes into its 4th year, Kristy Hart reflects upon her dad and uncle, who were the inspiration for the NAIDOC week event.

Kristy’s father, Rod Hart, and his brother, Larry Hart, were talented sportsmen known for their prowess on the league and touch footy fields, as well as in the boxing ring.

They played for the Sawtell Panthers, Coffs Harbour Comets and Orara Valley and were part of winning premiership teams. However, it was their contribution to the Indigenous community and the greater Coffs Coast region that made them truly inspirational men.

Kristy exudes pride as she explains how they used sport to better the lives of those around them.

”Every year they trained and led the Coffs Harbour Raiders for the annual Koori Knockouts.

“They brought people together and made the community proud.

“Wherever the team played, everyone would travel to support them.”

Uncle Larry was the oldest sibling, and he was well-known for his leadership and game management.

With a smile, Kristy remembers how Larry’s “gamesmanships antics could always put the opposing teams off their game.”

Rod and Larry were both aware of how sport could bring people together and uplift those that were struggling.

When players had no transport to games, they would go out of their way to do pick-up and drop-off.

“The money dad made refereeing footy games, he would put towards the fees of players that couldn’t afford registration,” explains Kristy.

Rod was also involved in the now-defunct ATSIC board and the Local Aboriginal Lands Council representing the Coffs Harbour community.

Through their sporting endeavours, Larry and Rod made lifelong friendships and connections to their community, especially their Indigenous brothers and sisters.

After their passing, Kristy and her cousins, Toni-Anne Hart and Relle Donovan, made it their mission to ensure that the Hart brothers’ legacy continued.

In 2018, with the help of Relle’s husband, Anthony Donovan, they organised the inaugural Larry and Rod Hart Touch Carnival.
That first year, it was held at Fitzroy Oval, a location important to the local Gumbaynggirr people.

Also known as ‘Old Camp Yaam Nguura Jalumgal’ the site was home to up to 200 Aboriginal people after the second world war.

The Larry and Rod Hart Touch Carnival has been an annual event ever since, and in 2021 it will be hosted by the Coffs Harbour Touch Association at the Sawtell Toormina Sports and Recreation Club. Kristy and her family hope to attract even more players and teams to the carnival, as it is a great way to “develop new friendships and have fun just like Uncle Larry and Dad did when they played touch footy or league. It’s a good time to catch up with everyone over a game of touch, a sausage sandwich and cuppa.”

Kristy also comments that the carnival is perfectly timed during NAIDOC week, a time for Australians to celebrate the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

“Uncle Larry and Dad were two great Aboriginal men, who gave so much to their community.

“They were also known for their inclusivity and Kristy makes it clear that the tournament is not an Indigenous-only event.

“This carnival is for everyone.

“It brings people together no matter where they’re from.

“That’s how Uncle Larry and dad were.”

As the carnival continues to grow, it is the Harts’ hope that the carnival will become a permanent fixture on the National Touch Football calendar.

This year, the event will be held on Thursday the 8 of July.

To register as a player or team go to or check out the Larry & Rod Hart Inaugural Touch Carnival Facebook page.



Leave a Reply