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Governor's orders

[Episode 24 | 1788 : Dan]

Dan tries to compensate Waruwi for the loss of her dingo by taking a number of items from around the camp and giving them to her. Dan drums out the marines as they march to the point.


The Australian curriculum: History

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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 [2]

Activity 1: Supplies for survival: First Fleet
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Subtheme(s): Historical events; Indigenous perspectives; Inventions and electronic media
  • As a class, watch the clip Governor's orders and discuss the issue of compensation. Dan explains that the governor has expressly ordered the marines to take nothing from the 'natives' unless they are compensated. Dan tries to find something of value to give Waruwi for the dingo. The clip portrays the marines' trust in their familiar system of authority and structure.
  • Ask students to imagine they are contestants in a game called 'Supplies for survival: First Fleet'. They will be presented with a series of tasks designed to help them think critically about the processes involved in establishing a colony at Sydney Cove in 1788. Divide the class into four 'tribes'. Each tribe must choose their own name. Draw a scoreboard on the whiteboard to keep a tally of points awarded at the end of each task. 
  • As their first task, the tribes must imagine that they are going camping on a mysterious island for a month. Ask the tribes to work collaboratively to brainstorm and generate a list of the tools and provisions they would take with them. Answers can be recorded on the board. Award points to the tribe with the most comprehensive list and to the tribe with the most imaginative list.
  • As a class, read through the extract taken from the instructions issued to Governor Phillip by King George III on the 25 April 1787. A full transcript of this document, along with some background notes, may be found at:
    National Archives of Australia, 'Documenting a Democracy', www.foundingdocs.gov.au/item.asp?dID=35
  • The instructions refer to an 'Assortment of Tools and Utensils which have been provided for the use of the Convicts and other Persons who are to compose the intended settlement'.
  • As their second task, the tribes must imagine that they have been asked by Governor Phillip to help him assemble the necessary 'Assortment of Tools and Utensils'. Governor Phillip was unsure what he might find when he arrived at the new colony, or how long it would be before additional supplies could be brought to Australia, and so everything a new settlement might need had to be taken. The funds available for equipping the expedition were low. Ask students to work collaboratively in their tribes to generate a list of tools, utensils and essentials that they would take with them from Britain to ensure the survival of the European colony. As part of this task, students will make decisions and identify the issues which faced early European settlers.
  • Present students with the actual list of livestock and provisions taken aboard the ships of the First Fleet. A copy of the list can be found at:
    First Fleet Fellowship, 'List of Livestock and Provisions', home.vicnet.net.au/~firstff/list.htm
  • Points can be awarded for each item on the historical list which each tribe has on their own list.

  • Discuss with students the trouble the colony encountered securing supplies and adequate equipment for building a settlement during its early years. Phillip found that the equipment brought out on the First Fleet was inadequate and poorly chosen and for years after landing he made constant entreaties to the British government to send more tools. In response he was sent a small amount of additional equipment which Phillip described as 'bad tools ... of no kind of use'. Ask students to consider what Philip could have done differently to overcome these problems. 
  • Students could imagine that they are Governor Phillip, writing a letter to King George III. In the letter they introduce themselves and explain the problems the colony is facing and what they would have done differently to change the outcome.


Activity 2: Historical perspectives
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Subtheme(s): Customs and traditions; Historical events; Indigenous perspectives
  • The clip Governor's orders shows a small group of marines foraging for supplies in the bush area close to the coast around Sydney. They are under orders to survey the country and report back to Governor Phillip. As a class, view the clip and ask students to discuss the historical implications of the background to the drama. 
  • Ask students to conduct research (or provide them with information) on:
  1. the difficulties and problems faced by Governor Phillip and the First Fleeters in establishing a colony
  2. the difficulties and problems faced by the local Indigenous people at the time. 
  • Refer to My Place for Teachers, 'Decade timeline' for information about the first colony. Students could incorporate historical sources taken from images, maps and the letters and journals of Governor Phillip and his officers. Students may find it useful to explore the following sites to gather information:
  1. State Library of New South Wales, 'Discover Collections', From Terra Australis to Australia, www.sl.nsw.gov.au/discover_collections/history_nation/terra_australis/
  2. SBS, First Australians, www.sbs.com.au/firstaustralians/
  3. National Archives of Australia, 'Documenting a Democracy', www.foundingdocs.gov.au/
  4. Migration Heritage Centre, 'Objects through Time', www.migrationheritage.nsw.gov.au/exhibition/objectsthroughtime/draughtinstructions/
  • Ask students to complete the table in Student Activity Worksheet H24.4: Historical perspectives by analysing the cause and effect of various problems for First Fleeters and local Indigenous people.

  • Ask students to identify, analyse and evaluate the situation for First Fleeters and Indigenous people in the local area.
  • Divide the class into small groups and have them design and construct a game similar to Trivial Pursuit where players have to identify, analyse and evaluate the challenges which faced the First Fleeters, Governor Phillip and the Indigenous peoples of the area. The game will allow players to test their knowledge of the challenges that the colonists and Indigenous peoples of the area faced during the early days of the colony. Please note that the objective of the game is for students to pose questions and find the correct answers in order to complete the game. The end of the game is reached when a person or team answers 10 questions correctly.
  • Refer to the following website for templates of games:
    Tools for Educators, 'Board Game Maker', www.toolsforeducators.com/boardgames/dailyroutines_r.php


Student Activity Sheet H24.4: Historical perspectives

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