Who ‘discovered’ Australia?

PLEASE NOTE: This case study contains names, images and/or voices of deceased Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Case Study Overview

Students look at a variety of evidence to determine who ‘discovered’ Australia. In doing so they have to address the issue of what ‘discover’ means and what the implications of different definitions, or elements of an overall definition, are. Students are introduced to a range of ‘discoverers’, including Aboriginal people, Baijini gypsies, Chinese explorers, Macassan fishermen, Portuguese seamen, Dutch merchants, James Cook and Matthew Flinders.

An interactive entitled, Build a timeline for the discovery of Australia, is also available for this case study. This interactive has recently been rebuilt to work with iPads and modern browsers.

Case Study unit of work inquiry structure (pdf)

  • Teacher’s Guide
  • Activity 1: Who will win the award?
    Understanding the main concept(s) raised in the case study
  • Activity 2: Who ‘discovered’ Australia?
    Carrying out a survey
  • Activity 3: Video visit
    Looking at the video segment of this case study and answering questions about it
  • Activity 4: Presenting possibilities
    Investigating a number of individuals and groups who might be considered to have ‘discovered’ Australia
  • Activity 5: Using evidence from maps
    Using maps to further explore who ‘discovered’ Australia
  • Activity 6: Using evidence from other sources
    Using other sources to further explore who ‘discovered’ Australia
  • Activity 7: The ‘Mahogany Ship’
    Examining evidence to determine whether a Portuguese caravel visited Australia in the early 1500s
  • Activity 8: Reflections
    Coming to a conclusion about who ‘discovered’ Australia

About the Interactive

Build a timeline for the ‘discovery’ of Australia iPad Friendly
Your task is to build up a chronological sequence of steps in the ‘discovery’ of Australia – and then decide who you think was responsible for its discovery. Was it Cook? Or Macassans? Or Aboriginal people? Or some other individual or group?

For Primary & Secondary Students

• First contacts

• Movement of Peoples

Case Study Resources

  • Teacher Guide
  • Print Resources (PDF)
  • Interactive
  • Downloadable High Quality Video
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