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VCE  |  Australian History – Unit 3: Transformation – Colonial Society to Nation

Session outline
By analysing images, students will consider the dramatic changes introduced as the British colonisers swiftly established themselves, taking possession of the land and then its newly discovered mineral riches.
Students examine transformations in the way of life of the Aboriginal peoples and to the environment as the European society consolidated itself. They also consider how new visions for the future created by the gold rush and the Eureka rebellion further transformed the new colony.

Classroom resources

Teaching kits:
The Environmental Impacts of the gold rush
Hidden Histories: The Wadawurrung People Secondary Teaching kit
Sovereign Hill Education blog posts:
The Australian ‘History Wars’ at Sovereign Hill
Environmental Changes to Victoria’s Landscape 
What caused the Eureka Stockade?
What caused the Eureka Stockade? Part 2
What caused the Eureka Stockade? Part 3

Victorian curriculum connections

Unit 3: Transformations; Colonial Society to Nation
The re-shaping of the Port Phillip District

Key questions:

  • How did Aboriginal and British arrivals’ understanding of land management and land ownership differ in the Port Phillip District/Victoria?
  • What were the demographic and political consequences of the gold rushes?
  • What were the responses of and outcomes for Aboriginal people following the arrival of the pastoral and goldrush colonists?

Outcome 1
On completion of this unit the student should be able to analyse the nature of change in the Port Phillip District/Victoria in the period 1834-1860.
To achieve this outcome the student will draw on key knowledge and key skills outlined in Area of Study 1.

Key knowledge:

  • Aboriginal understandings about land, including communal ownership, belief in the sacredness of the land shaped by spirit beings, and the importance of participation in rituals to nurture the land, and their land use and management practices
  • British settlers’ understanding about land, including property rights and private ownership and the doctrine of land ‘improvement’ through agricultural cultivation and their appropriation of the ‘uncultivated’ lands of the Indigenous peoples
  • The motivations of non-pastoralist immigrants and their experiences, including bounty and assisted immigrants
  • Aboriginal responses to the transformation of their physical and cultural environment, including resistance, adaptation, interaction and accommodation with the newcomers and retention of cultural values
  • The outcomes for Aboriginal communities of pastoralist expansion and the gold rushes, including environmental damage and loss of food resources, dispossession from their lands, servitude, frontier violence and disease
  • Demographic and political consequences of the gold rushes, including democratic and new world aspirations, European and Chinese digger protests against unfair taxation, the demand for manhood suffrage, the secret ballot, the push for the eight-hour day and reform to unlock the land from the squatters
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