Gavin Wanganeen

Gavin Adrian Wanganeen (born 1973) is a former Australian rules footballer, now a visual artist.

Gavin Wanganeen
Born1973 (age 4546)
OccupationAFL football player, visual artist
Gavin Wanganeen
Personal information
Full name Gavin Adrian Wanganeen
Nickname(s) Wanga
Date of birth (1973-06-18) 18 June 1973
Place of birth Mount Gambier, South Australia
Original team(s) Salisbury North
Draft No. 12, 1989 National Draft, Essendon
Height 181 cm (5 ft 11 in)
Weight 83 kg (183 lb)
Position(s) Utility
Playing career1
Years Club Games (Goals)
1990 Port Adelaide (SANFL) 027 0(46)
1991–1996 Essendon 127 0(64)
1997–2006 Port Adelaide (AFL) 173 (138)
Representative team honours
Years Team Games (Goals)
1992–1998 South Australia 8 (?)
1 Playing statistics correct to the end of 2005.
Career highlights




Sources: AFL Tables,

He played for Essendon in the Australian Football League (AFL) and Port Adelaide in both the AFL and the South Australian National Football League (SANFL), winning the 1993 Brownlow Medal.

Since retirement, Wanganeen has taken up painting. He is a descendant of the Kokatha people, a Western Desert people of South Australia, an inheritance he has explored in his art work since retirement. He has had two solo exhibitions and was an ambassador for the Adelaide Fringe in 2019.

Early life

Wanganeen was born in Mount Gambier to a footballing family; his great-grandfather had played for the local team at the Koonibba mission near Ceduna.[1] He is an Indigenous Australian of Kokata descent.[2]

His family moved from Mount Gambier to Port Lincoln for a few years. By the time Wanganeen was 5 they moved again to Salisbury, a northern suburb in Adelaide.[3]

Wanganeen played junior football for Adelaide based South Australian Amateur Football League club Salisbury North and attended Salisbury East High School.[3]

At the age of 14, Wanganeen joined the Port Adelaide Under 17s side in the SANFL.[3]

Football career

Port Adelaide: 1990

Wanganeen made his senior SANFL debut with Port Adelaide in 1990 at only 16 years of age. The 1990 SANFL season was the last year that the competition was the highest level of football in South Australia. He played 24 matches and kicked 46 goals, winning the SANFL Rookie of the Year award, starring in Port Adelaide's 1990 SANFL Grand Final win kicking two goals.[4]

Essendon: 1991–1996

Drafted to Essendon, Wanganeen debuted for the club in 1991, Round 2 in a win against Richmond. He immediately finding a niche as an attacking defender. His quality was recognised in 1993 when he won the Brownlow Medal for the best and fairest player in the league, the first Aboriginal Australian to do so, as well as being a key player in South Australia's State of Origin Carnival Championship, and Essendon's Premiership win that year. In 2002, Wanganeen was voted the 19th best Essendon player of all time in the "Champions of Essendon" list.

Port Adelaide return: 1997–2006

Wanganeen returned to Port Adelaide in 1997 as the club's 59th captain and its inaugural captain in the AFL. He received 11 Brownlow votes for the year, but after his first season injuries conspired to minimise his impact. He relinquished the Port Adelaide captaincy at the end of the 2000 AFL season which saw a return to his best form. In 2003 Wanganeen was favourite to once again win the Brownlow (he finished equal second). In 2004 Wanganeen won his second premiership medal in Port's first AFL premiership side. Wanganeen played his 300th AFL game in the 2006 season, but then injured his right knee in a SANFL game for the Port Adelaide Magpies, which led him to retire from football.[5] Wanganeen was the first Aboriginal player to play 300 AFL games. He was honoured by the Power by the naming of the best under 21 medal after him, the Gavin Wanganeen Medal.

After football

In 2013, Wanganeen was focused on business interests involving ownership of three Anytime Fitness centres at Modbury, Port Adelaide and Essendon.[6]

He served as a voluntary ambassador for the Australian branch of the White Ribbon Campaign, a men's campaign that tackles violence against women, and participated in the 2013 "Cycling for Culture" event to draw attention to the importance of language and culture to Aboriginal well-being, specifically to attract funds to contributing to the further development of the Kaurna language.[6]

In 2013, Wanganeen was appointed senior coach of Pulteney Grammar School's football team.[7]


Wanganeen found a new passion after retirement and has become an accomplished visual artist, with two solo exhibitions by 2019[8] and much of his artwork decorating his home in suburban Adelaide.[9]

In February 2019, Wanganeen was appointed one of three Fringe Ambassadors for the Adelaide Fringe, where he appeared in conversation with Holly Ransom for the Fringe Talk Show.[10][11]

His second exhibition, Through the Stars,[8] was part of the South Australian Living Artists Festival in Adelaide.[12]


The Gavin Wanganeen Indigenous Scholarship (GWIS) was established at the University of South Australia in 2005 to support disadvantaged Indigenous students to complete a university degree.[6]

The Gavin Wanganeen Medal, for the Best player under 21, was instituted at PAFC in 2006.

Personal life

Wanganeen has two children, a daughter and a son[13] with his first wife, Stephanie.[14]

In July 2012, Wanganeen married Pippa Hanson.[13] Together the couple had three daughters as at 2017.[9]

He is the first cousin of AFL players and brothers Aaron and Alwyn Davey,[15] and a third cousin of Rabbit Proof Fence actress Natasha Wanganeen.

Football statistics

 G  Goals  B  Behinds  K  Kicks  H  Handballs  D  Disposals  M  Marks  T  Tackles
Season Team No. Games G B K H D M T G B K H D M T
Totals Averages (per game)
1991 Essendon 41812131558924439380.
1992 Essendon 421111723812135955730.50.811.35.817.12.63.5
1993 Essendon 4225326714641369300.
1994 Essendon 42212928610138782420.50.413.04.617.63.71.9
1995 Essendon 423101026712439160270.40.411.65.417.02.61.2
1996 Essendon 42114824211135364430.70.411.55.316.83.02.0
1997 Port Adelaide 12014621912934849280.70.311.06.517.42.51.4
1998 Port Adelaide 115891766023652280.50.611.
1999 Port Adelaide 116541939228559150.30.312.15.817.83.70.9
2000 Port Adelaide 11065120551753690.60.512.05.517.53.60.9
2001 Port Adelaide 424412225610936575261.70.910.74.515.23.11.1
2002 Port Adelaide 4201272018328464210.60.410.
2003 Port Adelaide 425151843391524161330.60.717.33.621.06.41.3
2004 Port Adelaide 419241019310329686171.30.510.25.415.64.50.9
2005 Port Adelaide 42313822713536275290.
2006 Port Adelaide 4100099110.
Career 300 202 149 3473 1558 5031 1027 460 0.7 0.5 11.6 5.2 16.8 3.4 1.5

Football honours and achievements

Brownlow Medal votes
Season Votes
1991 7
1992 11
1993 18
1994 6
1995 7
1996 4
1997 11
1998 3
1999 11
2001 4
2002 2
2003 21
2004 2
2005 2
Total 109
Green / Bold = Won




Port Adelaide



Other individual awards

See also


  1. Wanganeen, Gavin (29 June 2013). "Gavin Wanganeen reflects on his indigenous history ahead of the Journey to Recognition march tomorrow". Herald Sun.
  2. Ralph, Jon (4 June 2010). "Indigenous superman Gavin Wanganeen blazed a trail". Herald Sun. Retrieved 4 June 2010.
  3. "Sports Card World: Tribute to Gavin Wanganeen". Retrieved 13 November 2016.
  4. Argent, P. "Now an immortal", Koori Mail, 16 June 2010, p. 85.
  5. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 9 May 2006. Retrieved 7 June 2006.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  6. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 10 November 2013. Retrieved 3 September 2013.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  7. "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 14 May 2013. Retrieved 3 September 2013.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  8. Ayres, Ed (31 July 2019). "Former AFL star Gavin Wanganeen on his path from footy to painting the stars" (audio + text). ABC Radio National. The Art Show. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 22 August 2019.
  9. Byrne, Holly (22 December 2017). "Artist in residence: Home tour with Gavin and Pippa Wanganeen". Home Beautiful. Retrieved 22 August 2019.
  10. Byrne, Jordan (4 October 2018). "2019 Adelaide Fringe Ambassadors Announced". Glam Adelaide. Glam Digital Pty Ltd. Retrieved 5 October 2018.
  11. Staff writer, Broadway World (3 October 2018). "Diverse Trio of Artists Announced As 2019 Adelaide Fringe Ambassadors". Broadway World. Wisdom Digital Media. Retrieved 5 October 2018.
  12. "SALA Artist – Gavin Wanganeen". King William Road. Retrieved 22 August 2019.
  13. Gilbertson, Matt (20 April 2013). "Former Port Adelaide AFL star Gavin Wanganeen and wife Pippa expecting first child". The Advertiser.
  14. "Power pair calls it quits". The Advertiser. 29 August 2009.
  15. Flanagan, M., "The Davey pacesetters", Real Footy, 9 May 2007. Retrieved on 9 May 2007.
  16. Gavin Wanganeen's player profile at AFL Tables
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