The bushranger

[Episode 18 | 1838 : Davey]

While out walking Duchess, Davey and Alice witness a bushranger on the run from some local soldiers, and they misdirect the soldiers to ensure his swift escape. Davey is confronted by the Owen boys who tease him about the imminent fate of Duchess.


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: Wild colonial boys
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Subtheme(s): Art, music and literature; Historical events; Language and scripting
  • Have students form groups of three and provide each student with Student Activity Sheet E18.3: Wild colonial boys. Play the clip to the class and ask each student in the group to take notes about a different aspect of the clip. Key aspects include:
  1. the bushranger and the troopers
  2. the teasing of Davey by John and Rupert
  3. the conversation between Davey and Alice.
  • When completing Student Activity Sheet E18.3: Wild colonial boys, have students focus on the use of rich descriptive vocabulary and accurate representation of what is seen and heard for the part of the clip being examined. Ask students to list some of the descriptive words and phrases such as 'whip-master', 'bag of bones', and 'bushranger', and find their meaning. Share students' responses and create a class word wall.
  • Have students investigate Australian bushrangers from this era. Refer to the My Place for Teachers, 'Decade Timeline' (1830s) for basic information. Using Student Activity Sheet E18.3: Wild colonial boys, have students create a describing wheel listing information on one of the bushrangers (male and female) from the era, their key dates and escapades. The following websites may be useful:
  1. ABC3, My Place, Davey (Episode 18), www.abc3/myplace/ (Contains a game for students to play to allot notorious Australian bushrangers to their corresponding era)
  2. Australian Bushrangers,
  • During the 1830s, a bushranger was also referred to as a 'wild colonial boy'. The reference was adapted from the lyrics of an Irish ballad. Find the lyrics of the original Irish version of 'Wild Colonial Boy' and examine these in reference to the clip, The bushranger. Ask students to analyse the similarities in how the bushranger is portrayed, particularly the sentiment expressed by Davey and the reasons why he helped the bushranger in the episode.
  • Find the song, The Wild Colonial Boy, particularly the Australian versions, and compare the differences from the original to the Australian version which was published much later. The following websites may be useful:
  1. The National Centre for History Education, 'The Wild Colonial Boy Turning Legend into History',
  2. The Wild Colonial Boy,

  • Organise a class debate focusing on the pros and cons of aspiring to be a bushranger. 
  • Ask students to imagine they have travelled back in time and have become a bushranger (male or female). Ask them to decide which Australian bushranger they would like to be, and to explain their choice. Have them write a short ballad or imaginative narrative that explores one or more aspects of a bushranger's life:
  1. early life and why they became a bushranger
  2. bushranging exploits
  3. where they roamed and why
  4. their final days


Activity 2: Teasing
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Subtheme(s): Culture; Gender roles and stereotypes; Social order and education
  • As a class, view the clip, The bushranger. Ask students to look for information about roles and relationships and class distinctions between characters. Look at the clothing of the characters, the way they each speak to one another and the actions and expressions they use to address each other. Ask students to work in pairs and list what they have observed about people's roles, class, and attitudes towards the bushranger and troopers.
  • Examine the teasing scene involving Davey, Rupert and Harold. Ask students to consider reasons why the boys may have been teasing Davey, the power relationships between the three boys, and the likely consequences the boys may face as a result of engaging in bullying behaviour. Have students provide evidence from the clip to support their opinions. 
  • View the clip again and ask students to consider how accurate the boys' descriptions are about what will happen to Duchess when she is taken to the tannery. Ask them to explain why they think this, in light of Alice's response to Davey's questions.

  • Ask students to write three reports of the scene where Davey helps the bushranger escape. The reports must cover three different viewpoints including:
  1. from the position of Davey or Alice
  2. from the position of the bushranger or the troopers
  3. from the position of a newspaper reporter who observed the scene.
  • Each report needs to use the voice of the person to describe what happened at the time of the incident. When writing the reports, ask students to consider the roles of each character, their social class and education, the attitudes to the other people in the scene and use of the appropriate language and expressions for the era.
  • Alternatively, students could complete a similar exercise on the scene where Harold and Rupert tease Davey. Ask students to write three reports of the scene from the following viewpoints:
  1. from the position of Davey or Alice
  2. from the position of Harold or Rupert
  3. from the position of a newspaper reporter who observed the scene.


Student Activity Sheet E18.4: Teasing

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