The bets

[Episode 19 | 1828 : Alice]

Alice is training her piglet Wilhelmina for the pig race but is unable to convince any of the local workers to bet any money on her. Freddie the bookie is concerned at the thought of losing money as most of the locals have bet on Oink, the favourite.


The Australian curriculum: English

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The Australian Curriculum: English aims to ensure that students:

  • learn to listen to, read, view, speak, write, create and reflect on increasingly complex and sophisticated spoken, written and multimodal texts across a growing range of contexts with accuracy, fluency and purpose
  • appreciate, enjoy and use the English language in all its variations and develop a sense of its richness and power to evoke feelings, convey information, form ideas, facilitate interaction with others, entertain, persuade and argue
  • understand how Standard Australian English works in its spoken and written forms and in combination with non-linguistic forms of communication to create meaning
  • develop interest and skills in inquiring into the aesthetic aspects of texts, and develop an informed appreciation of literature.

English activities [2]

Activity 1: Currency values
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Subtheme(s): Currency; Customs and traditions; Language and scripting
  • When the colony of New South Wales was established, initially there were no internal currency and no banks and so trade arrangements were rather chaotic, often involving bartering or credit notes. In 1825 the British Government legislated a sterling currency for the colony and pounds, shillings and pence formed the basis of Australian currency until the introduction of the decimal system in 1966.
  • Encourage students to investigate what types of emblems or illustrations were used on the old coins and compare them to the emblems used today. Have students use the information from their research to create a class currency timeline as a poster or online timeline.
  • As a class, view the clip The bets and ask students to note the references made by various characters to the currency used in the 1820s, for example, sixpence, florin and shilling. Ask students to find an image of some of the old currency and find out what it was worth in today's money. Ask students to find out the average wage for various workers during the era and estimate whether their bet was big or small depending on the work of each character.

  • Provide current Australian coins of each denomination for the class to examine and to undertake coin rubbings. Students can compare the coins and notes they use today to the currency of the 1820s using the table in Student Activity Sheet E19.3 Currency values. Students can trace or rub over the coins of today, as well as drawing or cutting and pasting pictures of old coins and adding them to the table.
  • Ask students to imagine that they are a famous coin collector. They would like to auction some of their old coins from the 1820s in Australia. Students are to develop profiles of two coins or notes that would appear in the auction catalogue. The information needed for the catalogue should include the following:
  1. illustrated or photographic image of the currency (front and back)
  2. age?
  3. where was it minted?
  4. any significant details or stories about the currency?
  5. size and materials it is made from?
  6. colour, any distinguishing marks?
  7. who last bought and sold it?
  8. how rare it is and its history?
  9. anticipated value at the auction?



Activity 2: Who is the favourite?
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Subtheme(s): Currency; Entertainment and games; Language and scripting
  • As a class, view the clip The bets and ask students what they have learned about language and accents in Australia in 1828 by observing the characters speaking in this clip.
  • Replay the clip to the class, instructing students to make notes about any unusual ways of speaking, odd sayings and references to currency by various characters. Create a large class graffiti wall on which students are invited to add information they hear in the clip, for example, these references to currency: sixpence, florin, shilling; and also phrases such as the following:
  1. ahoy there!
  2. wee chappie
  3. quick as a flash
  4. t'other one
  5. cider
  6. low rations
  7. hasn't got a prayer
  8. tar and feather meself
  9. Bennie's 'the favourite'.
  10. Everyone thinks he's the cat's whiskers.
  11. They'll be putting their blasted money on him.
  12. Every shilling they put on Bennie I'll have to pay them two shillings.
  • Ask students to work with a partner, replay the clip and use Student Activity Sheet E19.4 Who is the favourite? to write what they think the unusual words and phrases mean.

  • Ask students to imagine they are a reporter for the local newspaper and have to report on the pig race. The reporter finds out about the fraud being perpetrated by Alice to swap Bennie the black pig for a 'ring-in'. Ask students to write a front-page article about the fraud and the ensuing race. They should consider a snappy headline for the story and incorporate interviews with some gamblers offended by the fraud, the parents of Alice and how disappointed they are in her behaviour, and other bystanders. They should also interview Freddie the forger for his side of the story, and Alice, who is able to defend herself. Make sure the article incorporates the language of the time and some of the old sayings and expressions that each of the characters use in speaking.
  • Host a courtroom scene where Alice is brought before the court to defend her actions in fixing the race. Select members of the class to be the judge, lawyers, victims and witnesses.
  • Provide opportunities for students to play the pig race games found at:
    Primary Games, 'Pig Race',
    My Place for Teachers,


Student Activity Sheet E19.4 Who is the favourite?

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