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


[Episode 25 | Before Time : Bunda]

At the creek, Bunda's father tells him and his brother to catch a fish. Each uses a different method of fishing and Bunda's method of building a small dam proves to be the most successful. Their father is annoyed that they are not working together.


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: To catch a fish
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Subtheme(s): Culture; Customs and traditions; Food; Inventions and electronic media
  • As a class, view the clip and note the solutions that the brothers come up with for catching fish. The clip illustrates the education of the boys in the ways of bushcraft, bush medicine and working as a team. Ask students to list the skills, knowledge and technologies that the boys are learning to use.
  • Indigenous fish traps and weirs can be found throughout Australia and showcase the ingenuity of the traditional custodians of the land and waterways. They also represent cultural sites of great significance. Show the class two clips:
  1. Youtube, 'Baiames Ngunnhu - The Story of the Brewarrina Fish Traps' www.youtube.com/watch?v=7uYKg1M6PRk
  2. Australian Government Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities, 'Brewarrina Aboriginal Fish Traps (Baiame's Ngunnhu)', www.environment.gov.au/heritage/publications/about/pubs/national-heritage-brewarrina.pdf
  • Ask students to find Brewarrina on a map. Next ask them to find Sydney on a map. Explain that the Ngemba people of Brewarrina have a different language and culture to Bunda's people. 
  • Ask students to research the different types of fish traps, weirs and other technologies for catching fish from around Australia. Investigate how fish traps and weirs utilise the natural ebbs and flows of water bodies. Ask students to investigate other technologies for catching fish in their local area, among their families, in their heritage and/or around the world. Discuss some of the similarities and differences.
  • Indigenous groups around Australia have intricate understandings about their environment: the climatic conditions and weather patterns, and the landforms and materials found there that have developed over tens of thousands of years. Reflect on the different locations, physical environments such as coastal or river country, styles, designs and materials used in their fish traps and weirs. Name the language groups associated with the different technologies and ask students to find the associated areas on a map.
  • Useful websites include:
  1. Burarra Gathering, burarra.questacon.edu.au/home.html
    Students can complete an interactive activity setting up a traditional fish trap as used by the Burarra people in rivers and creeks. This site can be downloaded and made available offline if internet connection is a problem.
  2. —— 'Catching Barramundi' burarra.questacon.edu.au/pages/fish_trap.html
    Students should read through the explanation of how such fish traps worked. 
  3. Queensland Government Department of Environment and Resource Management, 'Fish Traps and Weirs', www.derm.qld.gov.au/register/p02307aa.pdf
    A good account of fish traps and weirs. 
  • Using their research findings, students should draw a diagram explaining how the different types of fish traps were used to catch fish.

  • Divide the class into small groups and ask students to design their own fish trap based on the ones they have investigated. Allow groups to gather natural materials such as wood, stone and flexible plant material from the local area. Research local weather conditions and environmental features, such as tides on the coast, which will influence the success of catching fish in your area or neighbouring areas. Discuss how weather conditions will affect your closest rivers and creeks.
  • Provide each group with an alfoil tray. Groups should create their fish trap in the centre of the tray, using the materials that they have gathered. Simulate high tide by filling the tray with water. Float sequins in the water to represent fish. Drain the water from the tray to simulate low tide and see how many 'fish' have been caught in the fish trap.
  • Ask students to consider why the Brewarrina Ngunnhu is a significant cultural site for Aboriginal people of Brewarrina. Sites such as stone fish traps help to preserve valuable information about Aboriginal knowledges, lifestyles, cultures and economies of the past, present and the future. For this reason, many fish traps are heritage listed and protected by state Cultural Heritage Acts and cultural management plans. As a class, examine the cultural management plan which is in place for the Brewarinna fish traps at:
  1. NSW Government, Heritage Branch, 'Brewarrina Fish Traps', www.heritage.nsw.gov.au/07_subnav_02_2.cfm?itemid=5051305


Activity 2: An Australian inventor
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Subtheme(s): Historical events; Indigenous perspectives; Inventions and electronic media
  • As a class, view the clip and note the solutions that the brothers come up with for catching fish. The clip illustrates the education of the boys in the ways of bushcraft, bush medicine and working as a team. Ask students to list the skills, knowledge and technologies that the boys are learning to use.
  • Bunda is extremely clever and inventive. Another famous Australian inventor is David Unaipon, a Ngarrindjeri man from South Australia who features on the Australian fifty-dollar note. 
  • David Unaipon patented ten inventions in his lifetime and is credited with drawing the first sketches of the helicopter propeller based on his observations of boomerang flight. Have students investigate the inventions of David Unaipon and list them. Here are some websites to assist you with information:
  1. ABC, 'Didj "u" Know - Stories', Who is David Unaipon?, www.abc.net.au/messageclub/duknow/stories/s888637.htm
  2. State Library of New South Wales, 'Discover Collections', David Unaipon - Legendary Tales, www.sl.nsw.gov.au/discover_collections/history_nation/indigenous/unaipon/unaipon.html
  • Students could organise their notes in the 'biography wheel' provided in Student Activity Sheet H25.4: An Australian inventor, arranging their information under the following headings for David Unaipon:
  1. Inventions
  2. Indigenous rights activist
  3. Writing and poetry
  4. Legacy
  • In the centre of the wheel, students can draw a sketch of David Unaipon based on his image on the fifty-dollar note.

  • Explore David Unaipon's life, work, writings and the context of the time. Unaipon was born in 1872 and some of his significant inventions were made in the early 1900s. Reflect on the situation for Indigenous people at the time. You may want to refer to My Place for Teachers, 'Decade timeline', from the 1870s to the 1910s. 
  • As a class, discuss some of the challenges that David Unaipon faced. Consider what he might write about on a blog, the events he might discuss and who he would be talking to.
  • To explore this idea as well as other ways to embed Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives in the classroom, go to Leesa Watego's slideshow presentation at: 
  1. Google Docs, 'The Critical Classroom', 5 Deadly Ways to Explore Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Perspectives of Democracy, Politics and Civics in Your Classroom,  https://docs.google.com/present/view?id=0AZZThDCu3oJRZGdrdmdjanhfNjYzZGdzdmZncHI&hl=en&authkey=CMiJjooE


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