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


[Episode 24 | 1788 : Dan]

Dan prepares to endure a flogging after disobeying orders and leaving his post. However, his punishment is abandoned after Waruwi appears with a puppy for the governor.


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: Flogging
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Subtheme(s): Culture; Historical events; Politics
  • In this clip, Dan narrowly escapes a flogging. Ask students to investigate the use of corporal punishment as a form of discipline by explaining that the cat-o'-nine-tails is still used as a judicial corporal punishment in some former colonies today, notably in the Caribbean, Trinidad and Tobago. 
  • As a class, view the clip Cat-o'-nine-tails and discuss with students whether the punishment fits the crime. Also have them consider whether the use of corporal punishment is an effective deterrent to crime. 
  • Tell students to imagine that Captain Phillip has called a 'commission' into the use of corporal punishment in the new colony. He wishes the commission to debate the following issue: Should corporal punishment be used as a form of discipline for officers and free settlers in the colony of Australia?
  • Divide the class into three groups:
  1. Group 1 will prepare an argument for the use of corporal punishment (the defence). 
  2. Group 2 will prepare an argument against the use of corporal punishment (the prosecution). 
  3. Group 3 will make a decision on the outcome of the case and present their verdict (the judge and jury).
  • Allow students time to research and plan their case. Groups 1 and 2 should appoint roles within the group, including speakers and witnesses. They should fill in testimony statements which can be read out by witnesses in support of their case. These should be taken from historical sources of the 17th and 18th centuries. Historical pictures can also be submitted to the commission as 'items of evidence'. Preparation of their case can be carried out in the school or local library, or online. Some useful starting points are:
  1. Convict Creations, 'Descriptions of Convict Life', www.convictcreations.com/history/description.htm
  2. Convict Trail, 'Common Misdemeanours and Punishments', www.convicttrail.org/history.php?id=a3b3c3%t%4
  3. State Library of New South Wales, Manuscripts, Oral History & Pictures, 'Robert Jones -Recollections of 13 Years Residence in Norfolk Island and Van Diemans Land', acms.sl.nsw.gov.au/album/albumView.aspx?acmsID=441815&itemID=823537
  4. World Corporal Punishment Research, 'Kissing the Gunner's Daughter: United Kingdom - Naval Discipline for Boys', www.corpun.com/kiss1.htm
  • Group 3 should discuss the main issues raised by the case, anticipate the cases which each side will present and devise the criteria which they will use to evaluate the merits of each case.

  • On the day of the 'commission', allow each side three minutes to present their case and call witnesses. After each case is presented, allow the judges time to make notes and discuss the merits of each case. Then allow each side the right of reply for one minute.
  • Give the judges some time to reach a verdict and ask them to present their findings, which must be justified with an evaluation of the arguments of the prosecution and the defence. During the proceedings, act as a court secretary, recording arguments for and against, and the final verdict on the whiteboard.


Activity 2: William Dawes and Patygerang
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Subtheme(s): Currency; Historical events; Relationships
  • As a class, view the clip Cat-o'-nine-tails and discuss some of the many different ways Indigenous Australians and the colonists interacted on first contact. Talk about why some interactions were peaceful and respectful and why some were not. 
  • While interactions between European settlers and Indigenous peoples were often characterised by conflict, some relationships between members of the two groups were characterised by mutual respect, appreciation and consideration. In My Place Episode 23 | 1788: Waruwi and Episode 24 | 1788: Dan, the characters develop a friendship despite the barriers of language. When asked to take Waruwi's pet dingo for the governor, Dan disobeys orders and is threatened with punishment. The story has parallels with the historical relationship between Lieutenant William Dawes, marine and expert astronomer on the First Fleet, and Patygerang, a young Darug girl who taught Dawes her language. 
  • As a class, watch Episode 24 | 1788: Dan and have students write down how they think Dan would describe Waruwi, and how Waruwi would describe Dan.
  • Watch the clip 'Dawes and Patygerang' available at the First Australians website:
    SBS, First Australians, www.programs.sbs.com.au/firstaustralians/content/
  • Ask students to write down how they think William Dawes would describe Patygerang, and how Patygerang would describe William Dawes. 
  • As an extension activity, students could look further into the story of William Dawes and Patygerang. Ask students to complete the information wheel in the Student Activity Sheet H24.6: William Dawes and Patygerang using the following website as a starting point for their research:
    School of Oriental and African Studies, 'The Notebooks of William Dawes on The Aboriginal Language of Sydney', www.williamdawes.org/

  • Ask students to imagine that the Reserve Bank of Australia is thinking of issuing a new $200 banknote. The students are part of a group who are advocating for the banknote to feature William Dawes and Patygerang on either side. Ask students to design the banknote.
  • Students could write a letter to the Reserve Bank of Australia justifying their design and explaining why the pair should be represented on the new banknote. Alternatively, students can assume the role of the Reserve Bank of Australia and write a reply letter to the designer of such a banknote explaining why Dawes and Patygerang were not chosen to feature on the $200 note. This activity will require students to analyse and evaluate the actions of Dawes in his relationship with Patygerang and to think about the importance of mutual respect between cultural groups within Australian society.
  • To complete this activity, students may wish to consider who appears on the other Australian polymer banknotes and the reasons why these individuals were chosen. A useful website for research is:
    Museum of Australian Currency Notes, 'A New Era - Polymer Currency Notes: 1988 Onwards', www.rba.gov.au/Museum/Displays/1988_onwards_polymer_currency_notes/complete_series.html
  • What values are represented on these notes? What values should be represented?


Student Activity Sheet H24.6: William Dawes and Patygerang

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