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This unit is taught as an inquiry where students are presented with a range of visual primary sources and asked to use them as a means of deducing information about life in the Australian colonies during the 1800s.


The teaching methodology uses a whole class learning model where students brainstorm ideas together before moving onto individual, pair and group tasks. The activities require students to use historical imagination in order to help them understand the social structures and attitudes of the past.


Primary sources are used for critical engagement, helping students develop historical consciousness and are also used as a basis for developing narratives across several forms of media. 

Teaching and Learning Sequence:

Each activity introduces a concept relating to the Australian gold rushes. It introduces the key ideas, offers succinct content information and concludes with a task. Teachers may choose to complete all activities or select those best suited to their course of study or time limitations.

Activity 1 - Why do humans prize gold?

Activity 2 - When and where was gold discovered?

Activity 3 - Who came to the goldfields?

Activity 4 - What were the gold seekers like?

Activity 5 - How did people get to the goldfields?

Activity 6 - How did people travel in the 1850s?

Activity 7 - What was the impact of the discovery of gold on the Indigenous communities?

Activity 8 - What skills were needed to find gold?

Activity 9 - What hazards did families face on the goldfields?

Activity 10 - Was finding gold the best way to get rich?

Activity 11 - Was Eureka the birth of democracy in Australia?

Activity 12 - What was life like for the Chinese on the Australian goldfields?

Men on the Goldfields  (c. 1880–90, State Library of Victoria)

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