Local legends

Percy Hobson

Born in Bourke on November 5th 1942, Percy was one of ten kids whose parents worked hard just to make ends meet. His grandfather was the well respected Aboriginal police tracker Frank Williams, of the Ngemba people, who was awarded the Imperial Service Medal in 1953.

Percy taught himself high jump on home made stands, running in from the back lane to extend the limited space in the back yard. Untutored, he became NSW junior champion at 14 years of age, jumping 5ft 5inches. A Sydney coach, Doug McBain, spotted his talent and began to advise Percy by correspondence.

At 17, Percy had cleared 6ft and moved to the city to compete, but after one season became homesick for the bush and returned to Bourke. Over the next two years, Percy would regularly leave Bourke on a Friday afternoon train, arriving in Sydney on Saturday morning to compete. He would catch the Sunday train home and arrive on Monday morning going straight to work; in all travelling one thousand miles over thirty two hours!

Percy climbed off the train in Sydney one Saturday morning in 1961, then succeeded in breaking the 28 year old NSW record with a leap of 6ft 8ins.

On Saturday November 24th, 1962, the temperature in Perth reached almost 104 degrees Fahrenheit – almost a pleasant day for an athlete from the outback!

Although standing 8 inches shorter than his rival and still unpolished, Percy was in fine form. A great roar went up as he sailed over the bar on his third attempt at 6ft 11inches, and Percy was declared champion with a new Commonwealth record.

For more information please contact the Back O' Bourke Information and Exhibition Centre

Kidman Way, Bourke NSW 2840

02 6872 1321