Works by the so-called Port Jackson Painter are among the earliest and most meticulous attempts by a European to represent Sydney’s Aboriginal peoples and culture. (Over 250 works are attributed to the Port Jackson Painter, the name given to an unidentified artist or artists who worked in Sydney from 1788 to the early 1790s.) Most of the watercolours are in the Natural History Museum in London, a handful are in the Rex Nan Kivell Collection at the National Library of Australia. This work, from the Library’s collection, depicts several spears, a yilimung (shield), a ngalangala (club), a mugu or mo-go (stone hatchet) and a boomerang.

1. Display this painting and ask your students when and why it might have been painted (using the background information as a guide). Challenge students to analyse each implement depicted:

  • What might the implement have been used for?
  • What animals might have been hunted with it?
  • Why did Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples hunt animals?

The implements depicted in the painting were used for hunting. Ask your students to think of implements that might have been used to gather plants.

Invite your students to write a short creative story from the perspective of an Aboriginal person living in the Sydney area prior to European settlement. Students should use one of the implements in the painting as a stimulus for their story.

2. The following images depict food-related technologies used in the 1950s:

Ask your students to analyse each image and identify what is happening in each one. Discuss the following:

  • What tools, implements or technologies are shown?
  • What food products are being prepared?
  • Who might have eaten the foods being prepared?
  • What is the same and what is different about the 1950s technologies compared with the technologies shown in the painting of Aboriginal hunting implements?

3. Challenge your students to consider the technologies used to produce the food they eat. Begin by asking students to list the foods they ate yesterday. For each item, students should identify where the food came from and the technologies that might have been used to prepare it (e.g. farm equipment, washing equipment, mixers, ovens, forklifts, transportation, refrigeration).