[Episode 18 | 1838 : Davey]

Mr Owen has Davey demonstrate whip cracking to his grandsons but then gives Davey some sad news about his favourite horse, Duchess. Despite Davey's protestations, Duchess is headed for the tannery.


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: Stablehands and status
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Subtheme(s): Character; Entertainment and games; Social order and education
  • Have students share their ideas about the roles of each character in the clip. In each case, ask students to provide examples from the clip to support their ideas. Watch My Place Episode 18 | 1838: Davey in its entirety and then ask students the following questions:
  1. Who are the characters cracking the whip? Are they related? How do you know? 
  2. Why are they cracking the whip? 
  3. Why don't Davey and George initially take part in the whip-cracking?
  4. What is the role of each character in this clip? Why do you think this?
  • Replay the clip, Horsewhipping, and ask students to notice the filmmaking techniques used in the production of the episode. Ask students to consider:
  1. How does the filmmaker use stereotypes to convey ideas, for example, what does the clothing tell you about each character?
  2. How do the characters interact with each other? What devices and expressions are used to relay information about their roles, relationships and status in relation to one another? 
  3. Why do you think there are no women involved in the whip-cracking?
  • Review the responses provided by students and ask them to share any new information they discover about the main character Davey, the groom, Mr Owen, the landowner, George, the stablehand, and the other characters, Mr Owen's son and grandsons. As a class, list the events that happen in this clip.
  • Ask the students to complete Student Activity Sheet E18.1: Stablehands and status to identify the people shown in the clip (and episode). Have them comment upon each character's role by drawing upon what they see and hear in the clip, for example, clothes they are wearing, their actions, and any relevant dialogue.

  • Encourage students to imagine what the Owen farm would have been like. Ask them to create a birds-eye view map. They will need to think about various farm buildings including housing, stables, sheds along with yards, paddocks, water supply, trees and other vegetation. As a class, refer to ABC3, 'My Place', (as a reference to what buildings were on the farm).
  • In pairs, have students create a schedule for a day on this farm, and then share ideas with the class about how work on this farm would be different from a farm today.


Activity 2: Duchess
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Subtheme(s): Chores, business and employment; Culture; Transport
  • After viewing the clip, Horsewhipping, ask students the following questions:
  1. What type of farm do you think this might be? 
  2. What work might the horses be expected to do? 
  3. Davey is referred to as a stablehand. What do you think his work might entail? 
  4. What does George do on the farm?
  5. How old is the horse named Duchess? Why is Duchess being sold? 
  6. What does Mr Owen mean when he says 'a farm is a business'? 
  7. What is the purpose of a whip? Is it cruel to use a whip on a horse? Why or why not?
  • Have students find out more information about farming in Australia in the late 1830s. Suggest they find out what type of people owned large properties; what type of farms existed; the work required on a farm; the technology used; and how animals were used and treated on a farm.
  • Play the clip again and have students focus on the discussion about what was to happen to Duchess. Ask students to form small groups and discuss the question:
  1. How did each of the characters involved feel about Duchess and what was to happen to her? 
  2. Have students cite evidence from the clip to support their opinions.
  • As a class, discuss:
  1. What is the meaning of the phase 'long in the tooth'?
  2. What is a tannery? 
  3. Did Duchess have a 'good life'? Why or why not?
  4. What does it mean to be humane to animals?
  5. What does Mr Owen mean when he says that Duchess will perform 'one more great service' to the farm? 
  6. How are older horses treated in Australia today? 
  7. Do we treat some animals differently from other animals? Have the class think of some examples of different animals and how they are treated differently by society.
  • Ask students to complete Student Activity Sheet E18.2: Duchess, to list alternative solutions to sending Duchess to the tannery.

  • Davey is very close to the horse Duchess. His pleas to save her from the tannery fall on deaf ears. Ask students to form small groups of five. They are to write a petition to either 'Save' Duchess or to 'Put her down humanely'. In order to write their petition, they need to develop a rationale for their cause and this may require researching how other 'causes' are advocated. For example, 'Save the whales' and 'Save the bilby' campaigns are examples of such causes. Alternatively, the case for 'putting her down humanely' will also need research on why older workhorses or other working animals are humanely allowed to die.
  • Student groups could design posters, websites, blogs and podcasts or vodcasts to raise awareness for their cause.


Student Activity Sheet E18.2: Duchess

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