Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander readers are advised that the following article contains references to people who have died.
Speaking to Queensland Cricket staff during the week at a NAIDOC-themed celebration at Allan Border Field, which sits on Turrbal and Yugara Country, Hinkley explained the importance of country to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.
It is an area of her culture that she is continually exploring, having become familiar with her Indigenous heritage while growing up in western Sydney.
“I was born and raised in Penrith which is a long way from culture and country, and only really learned more about my heritage when I was in my teens,’’ she explained.
Her journey of personal discovery saw her embrace her ties through her mother's family to the Kunja people in western Queensland, with their traditional lands centered around Cunnamulla and Charleville.
“I enjoy yarning with my mob, the relatives and the elders, and I am passionate about making more people aware of our culture, the oldest continuous culture in the world.”
“It’s why this year’s NAIDOC week theme of ‘Heal Country’ is so important because for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, the connection to country is vital.”
Hinkley, who is studying a business management degree with a major in financial planning, told the Redland Bulletin last month that working with Indigenous students through the Broncos Foundation gave her a great sense of fulfillment.
"Our girls have a unique opportunity that I didn't have at school, to feel a sense of belonging and purpose by being culturally engaged and valuing their education," she said.
"I'm extremely passionate about my role with the students at Wellington Point High School.
"The program is trail blazing for young Indigenous women, highlighting the connection between education and culture.
Hinkley was pleased to join the ranks of female Indigenous cricketers to represent Queensland, playing a significant role in the WNCL Final that saw the Queensland Fire win the State’s first Ruth Preddy Cup earlier this year.
“Since I’ve been in Queensland, I’ve been fortunate to be involved with the Quandamooka people on Minjerribah (North Stradbroke Island) and walk on country with them,’’ she said.
Hinkley acknowledged that there is a strong connection to the formative years of women’s cricket in the Stat with two Indigenous female trailblazers representing their State from Minjerribah.
Cousins Edna Crouch (nee Newfong) and Mabel Campbell played for the Wynnum cricket team and were selected in the Queensland women’s team that took on the touring England women’s team in 1934-35.
Campbell, who played for Queensland between 1934 and 1936, was a skillful batter while Crouch, who played between 1934 and 1938, was a spin bowler.
Campbell and Crouch were each named as members of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Sports Hall of Fame.
Edna Crouch's niece, Thelma Crouch, represented an Australian Women’s Youth team against England in 1940 and played for Queensland between 1948-49 and 1953-54. Thelma Crouch is a Life Member of Queensland Women’s Cricket.
Another Quandamooka woman to play for Queensland was Kath Walker in 1951. Walker was better known as world-renowned poet Oodgeroo Noonuccal, and was a keen athlete in her younger days.
In the 1990s, three Indigenous women - Debbie Walford, Denise Marsh and Pat Fraser - represented Queensland, with Walford also playing for NSW during her career.
Hinkley hopes to build further on strengthening cricket’s commitment to reconciliation and inclusiveness and was encouraged by last season’s lead-in to the WBBL in Sydney.
The eight WBBL captains and five Indigenous players – Ashleigh Gardner, Mikayla Hinkley, Anika Learoyd, Hannah Darlington and Ella Hayward – as well as the Stars' Elyse Villani and Georgia Wyllie from the Scorchers met at the Sydney Showground Stadium prior to the start of the tournament to connect to country and acknowledge the traditional owners of the land.
All the players removed their shoes and formed a Barefoot Circle on the outfield of the Sydney Olympic Park ground, as the Heat's Hinkley and Thunder's Darlington read out acknowledgements of country.
Speaking after the event, Hinkley was keen to reflect on where the game can develop further.
"There's still potential for even more (players) to come through,’’ she said.
“We see other sports have tremendous amounts of Indigenous athletes and it would be really awesome to see that number keep growing."
Queensland Cricket CEO Terry Svenson thanked Hinkley for her insights this week.
“Mikayla leads the way for Queensland Cricket in championing inclusivity in the wider community as an Indigenous Fire and Heat player, and we are grateful to her for engaging with the staff this week,’’ he said.
“Queensland Cricket is committed to growing Indigenous cricket and there are several opportunities for us in the future that we will be implementing,’’ he said.
“The Lord’s Taverners (Qld) group recently provided a donation of $10,000 to benefit the Eddie Gilbert Program which focuses on supporting Indigenous cricket in Queensland, and we look forward to generating appropriate measures to maximise this generous contribution.”