John Bloomfield interview, 10 August 2012

Dublin Core


John Bloomfield interview, 10 August 2012


Sport science, exercise and health


This is an interview with John Bloomfield who came to the University in 1968. He was appointed senior lecturer and head of what was then the fledgling Physical Education Program. During the interview John talks of the path he took to come to the University of WA which included studies in North America where he saw a system of support for sport at the university level that he would apply on his arrival to UWA.
He recalls the opinions of Vice Chancellor Prescott about the department and speaks of the instructions he was given by him on his appointment. He discusses his aims for the school and the how the department would grow looking at the teaching and development of the course structure for the new department. The school has been instrumental in work into cardiovascular studies among other areas which have been of major importance to medical and health advancements. He is the author of over 100 scientific papers and a number of books. He was invited to write the White Paper for the Whitlam government in 1972 that would later be adopted as the blueprint for sport systems in Australia. He has chaired numerous sporting bodies including the Australian Institute of sport and the Australian sports commission among others.
He relates some of his national and international work including working as Chairman of the Institute of Sport in Australia and Leader of the Sports Commission Delegation to China in 1987. John Bloomfield has numerous awards and honours for his work, included are an Western Australian Citizen of the year 1979 and he received the John Graham Award in 2004. He has an Honorary Doctorate at the University of WA. The John Bloomfield Lecture Theatre at UWA and the John Bloomfield Lecture Theatre at Challenge Stadium are named after him.


Bloomfield, John


University of Western Australia Historical Society


Copyright holder University of Western Australia


MP3 files


Oral History

Oral History Item Type Metadata


John Bannister


John Bloomfield


Perth, W.A.


Interview 1: 52 minutes, 9 second
Interview 2: 55 minutes, 21 seconds
Interview 3: 30 minutes, 1 second
Total: 2 hours, 17 minutes, 31 seconds

Bit Rate/Frequency

128 kbs

Time Summary

Track 1
00:00:00 Introduction background information and origins. Kiama. Schooling. Memories of WWII. Isolation in Sydney. Wollongong high school. David Lindsay. Decisions to do physical education. Sydney teachers college. Teaching in Newcastle. National service. Korean War 2nd /2nd battalion. Decided to go to the United States. The 1956 Olympic games.
00:05:50 Sport in the family background. Don Bradman. Memories of Father and uncle. Mother’s support and her nursing career. Sport and inspiration from books. Being a good swimmer. Kiama life saving club. Memories of surf life saving. Saving people in the surf. Hilton Osborne Bloomfield and Francis Hillman Verte. Memories of living near the beach in Kiama.
00:13:30 Involvement at the 1956 Olympics. Surf life saving. Second in the surf race. Wanting to coach swimming. Reading journals in sport science. Getting a Fulbright Fellowship. Going to USA. Primitive Olympics of 1956. Description of the facilities of the 56 games. Training in the rock pool at the beach. Professor Frank Cotton was a famous person. Anti G suit invented by. Memories of being taught by Frank Cotton. Assisted by Forbes Carlisle Group. Teaching self. Writing Knowhow in the Surf. First of its kind written in the world.
00:22:20 Coming to WA for the national Australian Surf Championships. Memories of Perth. Memories of the Crawley Baths. Competing with jellyfish. No knowledge of UWA. Experiences that direct Bloomfield’s career. Getting the idea to go to the United States. The push toward sport science. Comparisons to US training system.
00:30:01 Memories of experiences in Oregon. Biomedical science. Support for Australians in the United States. Masters and PhD in sport science. Teaching qualifications available in Australia. Thoughts of old wives’ tales in sport. Experiences in the United States and developing a scientific bent. Going to Europe. Jim Counsilman and Peter Sigerson.
00:37:44 Going to Europe and coming to Australia. Counsilman and hydrodynamics. Experiences of Poland, Hungary and East Germany. Coaching in the United States. Lack of jobs in Australia. Jack Cross offers a job in Physical Education at University of Western Australia. Not keen on WA. Primitive place Perth.
00:42:40 Talking to Commissioner of Health William Refshauge. Ralph Reader. Alternative views to health in the 1960. Thoughts of UWA reputation. Experience of coming to take up the position as Head of Physical science in UWA. Reg Moir – Prof Underwood and Blakers. No one was interested in sport science. Impressions of UWA in 1967. University’s ranking in Australia.
00:48:40 Sir Stanley Prescott. Exercise and the social and cultural attitudes. Being forced to start a Physical Education Course by Department of Education and Director General of Education Harry Dettman.

Track 2
00:00:00 Prescott’s views on PT. Regulations and orders handed down. No sweaty tracksuits. Activity to be conducted at the teachers college. Teachers and academics. Gowns and suits. Prescott’s archaic attitudes. John Birkett Clews. Rugby and Rowing. Prescott’s sporting interest. Training and techniques and interval training in rowing. Improvements in rowing and the Kings Cup. Memories of the America’s Cup team.
00:12:40 Memories if the lectures in the foundation years. Foundation head. New course and scientific direction. Relating to chemistry. Students become young scientists. Benefits of to teaching. Facilities at the school. No physical activities at the Universities. Clews and improvements on the campus. Impressing Prescott and working at the University of Queensland. Sir Zelman Cowen.
00:20:50 Interest in ballet and the beauty of movement. UWA style of program for Queensland. Memories of Sir Zelman Cowen. Pulling in very smart kids from TAE. Building up the school to compare to Physics.
00:24:50 Academics and the Australian sporting emphasis. The development of Physical Education. The importance of the school to other departments. Medical interest in ground breaking findings. Tim Wellborn. Predicting people’s cardiovascular fitness health.
00:32:30 Osteoporosis, calcium and exercise. New thoughts Saskatchewan and Richard Prince. Don Bailey. Sociological aspect to the Sport Science School. Medicine and psychological and mental strength. Sports Psychology. Sandy Gordon. The Olympic games and the importance of sport and Psychology.
00:44:10 Writing the white paper for the Whitlam Government 1972. Making observations from experiences around the world. Making changes with sport. Trying to impress the Liberal Government. Gough Whitlam was very interested in the political importance of sport. Gough Whitlam was not interested in sport. Fraser and Whitlam were unco-ordinated. Ministry of Recreation.
00:50:25 Writing the White Paper as policy for the Australian government. The Montreal games and the poor Australian performance. Ellicott and the new sport system for Australia. Benefits of the White Paper and UWA. Brian Burke and support for sport.

Track 3
00:00:00 The advancements seen in the faculty. Field of sport science and the faculty of science. Nationally rated and life science. In front of Ivy league Universities. Alan Robson and his contributions. Personal feelings toward success. Federal funding and performance. Funding comparisons with other universities. UWA and interaction with the new West Australian Universities. Status around Australia.
00:07:05 Notre Dame University and the faculty of health sciences. Things are happening in the west. Sports science laboratory, John Bloomfield award and Hollywood Hospital. State sport policy and the challenge stadium. Brian Bourke. Chairman of the Australian institute of sport. Bob Ellicott and Malcolm Fraser. The Olympics. Other countries have copied the way of the AIS.
00:16:15 People using Australia’s system. The Chinese vs Australia. Peter Shakespeare. Pioneering work and the growth of the Sport Sciences. Author, lecturer and consultant. Sir Stanley Prescott’s views. Being held down. The School Advisory Committee. Aims of the committee. McGillivray Oval. Personal awards and Professor Warren.
00:24:08 Proudest achievements and the students. Life Fellow of Australian Council Health and other awards. Sports medicine and Fulbright Scholar. Coming up with firsts. Sharing of knowledge. Hopes for the future of the department. Needs to be done. Advice and good leadership.



Bloomfield, John, “John Bloomfield interview, 10 August 2012,” UWA Historical Society: UWA Histories, accessed April 20, 2024,