All National Library reading rooms will be closed on the Anzac Day public holidays, Sunday 25 April and Monday 26 April. The exhibition galleries and Bookshop will be open from 9am to 5pm, and Bookplate cafe will be open from 9am to 3pm. Regular hours will resume on Tuesday 27 April. See our public holiday opening hours for more information.

Environment and Animals

Authors have used the beauty, harshness and problems of our land to tell their stories, often basing their stories in familiar locations and using their reaction to a particular environment as the central theme. Animal stories all rely on the environment in which they are set, and basically fall into three areas:

  • educational, life-cycle nature studies disguised as a story
  • indirect explorations of reality via talking animals
  • investigations of human–animal relations.


The world of animals is as mysterious to us as it is intriguing; we often wonder what animals get up to when we’re not around. Ask students to think about their favourite animal (you could use a theme, such as an Australian land animal, sea animal or bird). Have students research the animal, its habitat, its behaviours and other characteristics, then ask them to develop a fictional story around that animal.

Some questions to prompt stories might include:

  • What does the animal do when there are no people around?
  • What might this animal be talking about with others of its kind?
  • How does it interact with other species?
  • What problems might face that animal and how might that animal find ways to resolve them? Can humans help?