Warning: This resource may contain references to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who may have passed away.

The encounter

[Episode 23 | 1788 : Waruwi]

Waruwi encounters a cow for the first time and is unsure what to make of it. After seeing some marines and a drummer boy, she returns home to Nana to tell her about the 'ghost people' and the cow.


The Australian curriculum: History

Show curriculum details

The Australian Curriculum: History aims to ensure that students develop: 

  • interest in, and enjoyment of, historical study for lifelong learning and work, including their capacity and willingness to be informed and active citizens 
  • knowledge, understanding and appreciation of the past and the forces that shape societies, including Australian society 
  • understanding and use of historical concepts, such as evidence, continuity and change, cause and effect, perspectives, empathy, significance and contestability 
  • capacity to undertake historical inquiry, including skills in the analysis and use of sources, and in explanation and communication.

History activities [1]

Activity 1: Local knowledge
Show details
Subtheme(s): Culture; Customs and traditions; Indigenous perspectives
  • The cow that Waruwi encounters seems a strange addition to the landscape. The European colonists brought with them many things, beliefs, practices and ways of thinking that fit better with the home they remembered than with the new environment in which they found themselves. Indigenous ways of life, by comparison, were based on deep respect for the Australian climate and environment, and local knowledges passed down from generation to generation. The clip displays the differences in culture, principles of ownership and authority.
  • As a class, view the clip and discuss Waruwi's reaction to the cow. Look at the contrast between where and how Dan lives compared to Waruwi.
  • In order to arouse student interest in the sustainable patterns of land use that are practised by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, invite students to investigate Indigenous weather knowledges. In recent years, scientists interested in long-term environmental change and weather patterns have turned to Indigenous weather knowledges to better understand the seasons and weather in Australia.
  • Students can use the following websites to explore the reasons why scientists are investigating Indigenous meteorological views:
  1. ABC Science, 'The Lost Seasons', www.abc.net.au/science/features/indigenous/
    Although this is called the 'lost' seasons, and the site is written as if this knowledge is from the past and has been lost, Indigenous people from across Australia still maintain and use their knowledge about the weather and the seasons in their local areas in their daily lives.
  2. Australian Government Bureau of Meteorology, 'Indigenous Weather Knowledge', www.bom.gov.au/iwk/climate_culture/index.shtml
  3. Living Knowledge, 'Yolngu Sea Country: Observing the Seasons' livingknowledge.anu.edu.au/learningsites/seacountry/10_observing.htm
  4. Queensland Studies Authority, 'Indigenous Perspectives Support Materials', www.qsa.qld.edu.au/3035.html
  5. ——'Torres Strait Islander Seasonal Calendar' http://www.qsa.qld.edu.au/downloads/approach/indigenous_read011_0801_2.pdf
  6. Twelve Canoes, 'Seasons', www.12canoes.com.au/
  • Using these resources, students can complete the table provided in Student Activity Worksheet H23.3: Local knowledge. Ask students to record the names of the seasons in the Kakadu region, noting local indicators which signal the beginning of a season and when each season occurs. See if students can find the names and times of the Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander seasons in your local area. Students should consider the differences between European understanding of the seasons and that of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. They should also consider whether the seasonal cycle is described the same way by various Indigenous people from different language groups and in different locations.
  • Connect with local Indigenous families at your school or neighbouring schools, local groups and organisations from the region or surrounding areas. You could contact Indigenous Education Units and resources centres in your state or your nearest university's Indigenous unit. Talk about the seasons and weather in the local (and neighbouring) language/s and see what you can find out about your local area.
  • Ask students to consider whether the European settlers should have adopted Indigenous seasonal patterns in your local area. To do this, they should fill in a SWOT Analysis chart to examine the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of this choice. This will require students to critically analyse and evaluate the choices made by the European settlers, and the importance of Indigenous knowledges. Once all students have filled in the table, ask them to make a final decision on the issue.

  • Invite all students who agree that the European settlers should have adopted Indigenous seasonal patterns in your area to go to one side of the classroom and all those who disagree to go to the other side of the classroom. Ask a selection of students from either side of the room to offer the reasons for their decision. Allow students to change sides as they listen to each response. Record responses on the whiteboard and allow students to write these down.
  • Ask students to write a report for their local newspaper about how Australia might have developed differently if European settlers had used local Indigenous knowledges when establishing the colony. 


Student Activity Sheet H23.3: Local knowledge

{tpl region name=footerbottom}