Adam Goodes turns to Adnyamathanha roots for answers in sorry end to his great AFL career

South Australian Aboriginal AFL stars with the Sydney Swans, Michael O'Loughlin and Adam Goodes, in The Australian Dream documentary 2019. 

Australian Football League (AFL) star Adam Goodes turned to his Adnyamathanha heritage in the South Australia’s Flinders Ranges to cope with the effect of relentless booing that ended his career in 2015.

A dual Brownlow Medallist, dual premiership player with the Sydney Swans, and four times All Australian, Goodes became a target of crowd abuse after objecting to a racist slur from a teenage girl at Melbourne Cricket Ground in 2013.

At breakdown point in the middle of the 2015 season, Goodes flew to South Australia and spent five days nestled in the Flinders Ranges, three hours north of Port Augusta – far from mobile phone reception. This is the traditional country of the Adnyamathanha – an ancestry inherited from Goodes mother who is also form another South Australian tribe: the Narungga of Yorke Peninsula.

During Goodes’s time in the Flinders Ranges, Adnyamathanha Aboriginal elders led a ceremony submerging his feet into the red dirt of a dry riverbed that water had travelled through for centuries. Clarity emerged for Goodes in the silence of his days on Adnyamathanha country: He decided to end his AFL career.

In 2019, two acclaimed film documentaries, The Final Quarter and The Australian Dream, the sad end to Goodes’s AFL career of 372 games that won his a place in the Sydney Swans Hall of Fame. Also featured film is another South Australian Aboriginal Sydney Swans AFL 300-game star Michael O'Loughlin, like Goodes, a member of the Indigenous Team of the Century. O'Loughlin, with Kaurna and Ngarrindjeri in his mixed ancestry, grew up in Adelaide and started his junior football with Central District.

Goodes, a former Australian of the Year, had a daughter, Adelaide Vira, born in 2019. Vira means moon in Adnyamathanha language. Goodes and wife Natalie made a pilgrimage to bury Adelaide's placenta in the same Flinders Ranges home country he returned to in 2015.

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