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Students’ Letters and Stories

The students’ letters of introduction are important preparation for their participation in the role-play experience. Ideally, we like to receive and read these before your visit.

In order to maximise the costumed school experience, we ask students to each write an imaginative letter or story based on answers to the questions below. Additions relevant to the 1850s Ballarat theme are welcome!

This task is good preparation for the role-play style of teaching. We will use some of the information provided in these letters to enhance our engagement with the students during the program.

They should use their real names and be conscious that they are writing from the perspective of a child of the 1850s. Careful and pleasing presentation of work is important and appreciated.

These letters or stories should be sent at least one week prior to your visit. They can be posted or scanned and emailed to

A useful resource for students’ pre-visit letter writing – Bound for the Colonies picture story book

Please note that the basic information to be supplied in each letter or story varies for different schools.

Red Hill National and St Peter’s Denominational Schools

Your letter or story needs to include:

  • Your name and age.
  • Father’s name and occupation.
  • Mother’s name and occupation.
  • How did your family travel to the Colony of Victoria?
  • From which country did you come?
  • How did you travel from Melbourne or Geelong to Ballarat?
  • Why did your family come to Ballarat?
  • Describe your dwelling in Ballarat. (Tent in the early 1850s. Possibly a bark, slab/mud hut. Cottage in later 1850s/60s.)
  • Individual information of a personal nature that is appropriate.

Red Hill and St Peter’s Schools Letters

St Alipius’ Diggings School

Your letter should answer the questions above, but you should come from Ireland. Name your Irish home town and county eg., Ennis in County Clare. You need to know about the potato famine and its effects on the Irish people.

St Alipius’ School Letters

Wesleyan Day School

Your letter should answer the questions above, but you would most likely have come from Wales or Cornwall. Name your Welsh or Cornish town of origin (eg Cardiff or Penzance). Many families would have had backgrounds in coal or tin mining and other industries.

Wesleyan School Letters

Ragged School

This is charity education for very poor families. You might be an orphan through tragic circumstances. Describe these in your letter or story. Your father might have died or abandoned your family. Your writing should reflect the poverty faced by your family.

Ragged School Letters

Suggested Possible Occupations


  • Straw Bonnet-maker
  • Milliner
  • Dressmaker
  • Maid
  • Laundry Maid
  • Cook
  • Scullery Maid
  • Shopkeeper
  • Pastry-cook
  • Housewife


  • Miner
  • Blacksmith
  • Cobbler
  • Carriage Builder
  • Carpenter
  • Shopkeeper
  • Trooper
  • Bricklayer
  • Merchant
  • Tailor
  • Grocer
  • Butcher
  • Brewer
  • Wood-cutter
  • Shipwright
  • Publican
  • Plasterer
  • Fishmonger
  • Printer
  • Auctioneer
  • Draper
  • Mason
  • Labourer

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