Unit 11: My Story, Your Story, Our Story


This unit focuses on developing an understanding and appreciation of Australia’s history and heritage through story. Students explore the different ways stories are told such as oral story telling, story through dance, song, drama, art, poetry and the written word. The stories they will experience will include Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander legends, painting, dance and song. They will also explore traditional Australian stories by authors such as Banjo Patterson, Henry Lawson, CJ Dennis, Dorothea MacKellar, Oodgeroo Noonuccal as well as traditional ballads and paintings (Fred McCubbin, Tom Roberts, William Barak etc). They will use these stories to build a picture of what Australia was like in the past and how that contributes to Australia’s identity today.

Aboriginal Perspectives

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture is the oldest living culture in the world.
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples pass on their stories through song, dance, painting and oral story telling.
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander stories enable all Australians to find out about the heritage of their country.


Culture, story, change over time, identity, heritage, lifestyle,


  • Over time, communities and aspects of people’s lifestyle change due to a variety of factors.
  • The lifestyles of people in the past are different in many ways to people today.
  • Stories are a way of passing on important aspects of culture and the past.
  • Knowing about the past can help people to understand who they are today.

Contributing Questions

  • How has Australia changed over time?
  • Why are traditional stories important to all Australians?
  • How can stories teach us about our history and identity?
  • Why is important to pass these stories on?
  • How are stories told?
  • How can we learn about Aboriginal culture and history through listening to their stories?
  • How do we know the information in stories is true?

Background Notes

From the Yarra Healing website: essential learnings.

When developing units of work on this particular topic, the following learnings need to be considered:

  • From the beginning of time, people have wondered at the beauty and power of nature and at humanity's relationship with it. They have developed powerful stories or myths to express their understanding of how life came to be.
  • For many thousands of years, Indigenous people used songs and stories to express their beliefs about the origins and meaning of life and land forms, the cycles of nature, and the harmony and conflict among human life and the animal world.
  • The Dreaming refers to how Indigenous peoples explain the beginning and the continuity of life.
  • The Dreaming is not fixed in the ancient era of creation. It continues in the spiritual lives of Indigenous peoples today, and its influence is embedded in many aspects of everyday living.
  • The Dreaming heritage carries special obligations to protect and preserve the spirit of the land and the life forms that are part of it. The Dreaming heritage also influences codes of behaviour, laws, family and social structures, and sacred duties.
  • Different Indigenous groups in Australia have their own Dreaming beliefs, Dreaming stories and Spirit Ancestors.
  • The Dreaming is passed on through a rich tradition of song, poetry, dance, art and storytelling.
  • Indigenous paintings and engravings recorded such things as daily life, animals in an area, tools used, hunting expeditions, plants and landscape. Much of Indigenous art was essentially religious in that it represented and amplified themes concerning Dreaming stories and beliefs.
  • Paintings and engravings, both everyday and sacred, were used as a means of communication within and among clans.The cultural diversity of the Indigenous nations, and nations within nations, is expressed through a wide range of artistic forms, styles and symbols. Dots, for example, were not traditionally used in Victoria as they were in other parts of Australia.


Written texts

Australian stories by authors such as: Banjo Patterson, Henry Lawson, Dorothea MacKellar

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander legends and Dreamtime stories

Australian Ballads

Australian Poetry

“Meerreeng-an. Here Is My Country” by the Koorie Heritage Trust, 2010

“The Rainbow Serpent of the Hopkins River” by Patricia Clarke, One Day Hill, 1999

“Old Tucker Man” by Debbie Austin, One Day Hill, 2007

“Digger J Jones” by Richard J Frankland, Scholastic, 2007

“First People” by Gary Presland, Museum Victoria, 2010 (Fantastic teachers resource)

“The Quinkins” by Dick Roughsey and Percy Tresize, Collins, Sydney, 1978

“The Goat Who Sailed the World”, by Jackie French, Harper Collins, Australia, 2006.

“Down the Hole” by Edna Tantjingu Williams and Eileen Wani Wingfield, IAD press, Alice Springs, 2000.

“My Place” by Nadia Wheatley, Walker Books, NSW, 2008 (20th anniversary edition)




http://www.cultureandrecreation.gov.au/articles/indigenous/dreamtime/ The Australian Government cultural portal gives information about ‘The Dreamtime’ and the importance of song, dance and story in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture.

http://www.the-great-barrier-reef-experience.com/captain-james-cook-journal-july19-25.html Find diary entries from Captain James Cook and Joseph Banks on this website.

Audio Visual

http://www.abc.net.au/dustechoes/default.htm A series of 12 animated stories from Arnhem land which have a particular purpose and message for the Aboriginal people about how they should act or behave. Includes study guide and background notes about the stories.

Australian paintings: Fred McCubbin, Tom Roberts, Russell Drysdale, Arthur Streeton

Dancing in the Dust DVD produced by Victorian College of the Arts in conjunction with the Catholic Education Commission of Victoria.

http://www.nma.gov.au/kidz/learn_and_play/gold_rush/ This interactive from the National Museum of Australia allows students to explore what the conditions were like on the goldfields.

Cultural Infusion. This company provides an ‘Aboriginal for a Day’ incursion program where students are actively involved in song, dance, art, and storytelling. Contact details are as follows:
ph: 9412 6666 or 1800 010 069
email: info@culturalinfusion.org.au