Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Otto Ernest Nothling (1900–1965)

by G. P. Walsh

This article was published:

Otto Ernest Nothling (1900-1965), medical practitioner and sportsman, was born on 1 August 1900 at Teutoburg (Witta), near Maleny, Queensland, sixth child of Carl Martin Nothling, a mason from Prussia, and his Queensland-born wife Marie Wilhelmine, née Tesch. Otto won a scholarship from Woombye State School to Brisbane Grammar School. A 'public spirited' boy of 'very fair ability', he excelled at cricket, Rugby Union football (captain first XV, 1918) and athletics. He entered St Andrew's College, University of Sydney (M.B., Ch.M., 1926), where he distinguished himself as an athlete, breaking records in javelin-throwing and shot-putting, and representing the university at cricket and Rugby.

An outstanding Rugby full-back for New South Wales, Nothling played three times against the visiting South Africans (1921), ten times against New Zealand (touring in 1921 and 1923) and six times against Maori teams. (The Queensland Rugby Union was defunct in 1920-28 so the New South Wales team effectively represented Australia and these matches are now recognized as Tests.) Herbert Moran thought that Nothling 'had every attribute for becoming the greatest footballer in the world, except one: intuition'.

On his retirement from Rugby in 1924, Nothling concentrated on cricket. He played five times for New South Wales in 1922-25. After returning to Queensland in 1926, he represented the State (1927-29) in twelve Sheffield Shield matches, including three as captain. In November 1928 he was chosen for both an Australian XI and a Queensland XI against A. P. F. Chapman's touring Marylebone Cricket Club team. Next month he was selected to replace the young (Sir) Donald Bradman, who was dropped to twelfth man, for the Test against England in Sydney. Nothling's figures of 8 and 44 with the bat, and 0 for 72 off 46 overs of zestful medium pace, were not enough: he was not picked again. In all first-class matches, he scored 882 runs at an average of 24.5 and took 36 wickets at 41 runs apiece.

From 1930 Nothling practised medicine at Maryborough, Queensland. In that city on 1 June 1932 at St Paul's Anglican Church he married Mildred Melville Horsburgh. Appointed major, Australian Army Medical Corps, Australian Imperial Force, on 12 July 1940, he sailed for the Middle East in December as second-in-command of the 2nd/3rd Casualty Clearing Station. He served in Greece and on Crete, but poor health forced his return to Australia; his A.I.F. appointment terminated on 2 October 1943 and he resumed his practice at Maryborough. After obtaining a diploma in dermatological medicine (1949) at the University of Sydney, he set up as a specialist in Wickham Terrace, Brisbane. The first skin specialist appointed to the Brisbane Children's Hospital, he was a council-member of the Dermatological Association of Australia.

Nothling's many interests included farming. He served as an alderman (1933-40) of Maryborough City Council, president (1938-39) of the Maryborough and Wide Bay Club, secretary of the local branch of the British Medical Association, vice-president of the Maryborough Golf Club (1936-40) and the Q.R.U. (1960-65), and president (1964-65) of the Queensland Cricket Association. Of splendid physique and 6 ft 3 ins (191 cm) tall, he could run 100 yards in even time in his youth. According to Dr John Belisario, a friend and colleague, he was 'in many respects a naive, lovable, big overgrown boy, who never grew up'. Nothling was gregarious and ever cheerful. His most outstanding quality was his loyalty to his friends. Survived by his wife, son and daughter, he died of hypertensive heart disease on 26 September 1965 at Chelmer, Brisbane, and was cremated.

Select Bibliography

  • H. M. Moran, Viewless Winds (Lond, 1939)
  • J. Pollard, Australian Cricket (Syd, 1982)
  • A. Buzo and J. Grant (eds), The Longest Game (Melb, 1990)
  • J. Pollard, Australian Rugby (Syd, 1994)
  • Medical Journal of Australia, 11 Dec 1965, p 1005
  • Daily Standard (Brisbane), 20 Apr 1936
  • Courier-Mail (Brisbane), 27 Sept 1965
  • Age (Melbourne), 23 Nov 1987
  • Brisbane Grammar School Archives
  • private information.

Citation details

G. P. Walsh, 'Nothling, Otto Ernest (1900–1965)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 2000, accessed online 21 May 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 15, (Melbourne University Press), 2000

View the front pages for Volume 15

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]


1 August, 1900
Maleny, Queensland, Australia


26 September, 1965 (aged 65)
Chelmer, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

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