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Studies in Australian History – Week Ten

11 October, 2013

Well calling it “week ten” is a bit of a misnomer as it wasn’t a full week, what with public holiday/family wedding Monday, birthday/rest day Tuesday and an excursion on Wednesday, although that was definitely educational and related to Australian History.

Our excursion was to Australiana Pioneer Village, which is about half an hour from where we live. It’s a small village, with nearly every building on the site being a genuine historic building, moved to its current location.

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We watched a sheep being shorn with old-style clippers and saw wool being spun into thread. There was plenty of time to ask questions about sheep, shearing, wool and any other related subject you can think of.

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We then began our tour of the village with a trip to the school of the 1800’s. The children lined up in boys and girls lines, sat at old fashioned desks with inkwells and saw copperplate handwriting on the blackboard.

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We were then directed to a display of Captain Cook/First Fleet objects, and entertained with a detailed description of using the “privy” on a tall ship.

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We then proceeded through the village, examining two old homes, a bank, police station, barber (with rooms to fulfil other “adult” needs upstairs), a saddlery, blacksmith, barn and “curio” store.

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All with costumed your guides, of course!

Finally, we sat in the shade and enjoyed lunch together. I think everyone enjoyed themselves, and the time hanging out with each other.

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Our week wasn’t all excursion, though. A keen eyed student of mine spotted a poem, obtusely named “Poem for my Children” by W N Scott, which is about George Bass and Matthew Flinders’ voyage along the eastern coast of Australia.

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We read the poem at dinner. Since our week away, we have established the habit of reading aloud at dinner most nights. We finished reading The Hobbit and, for the time being, are reading The Journal of Watkin Stench and a poetry book called An Imaginary Menagerie. We’re currently considering which novel to tackle next.

Later in the week we began reading about the Blue Mountains Crossing in 1813. Googling for the location of the starting point of the expedition – Gregory Blaxland’s farm – unearthed a photo of a monument only about 15mins drive from us… So off in the car we went.

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We also ended up with twenty mins to kill before an appointment, so off we went to a convict-built bridge.

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When we went to the State Library we were fortunate to spot a painting of the site, before the bridge was built.

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(Photo courtesy of The State Library App, Curio).

Conveniently, on the way home we pulled over at a memorial stone I’d spotted earlier in the week (on the way down the mountain from the wedding) and discovered it was to mark where the explorers had passed, one day into their journey. It really gave the kids some perspective as to how far the explorers travelled in a day.

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Given the short school week, I’m really happy with what we’ve achieved this week!

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