Strange creatures

1. Look at the three sources with your students and identify what each painting depicts. As a class discuss how well these European artists drew native Australian birds, animals and plants.

Invite your students to imagine they arrived on the First Fleet. Ask them to write a description and draw a picture of a native Australian animal they have seen for the first time. Imagine that the drawings will be sent to England to help people on the other side of the world learn about the new settlement.

(Teachers may be interested in viewing the short video First Fleet Sketches: Hunter and Raper)

2. As a class, brainstorm a list of native flora and fauna that European settlers may have found when they arrived in Australia. Based on the list from the brainstorm, and using the following binaries, ask your students to classify the animals, birds and plants they have identified:

  • Useful and not useful for humans
  • Edible and not edible for humans
  • Dangerous and harmless to humans.

Ask students to think of other ways they can classify the list of animals, birds and plants.

As a class, discuss the following questions:

  • What did the European settlers need to learn about Australian native plants and animals? Why?
  • What impact did European settlement have on Australian native plants and animals?

Other Treasures sources that relate to the concepts explored in this source include: First Fleet, Early settlement