Activity Introduction

Quick summary: Students compare the ancient findings of Aboriginal life at Lake Mungo and findings from the Roman period with our own lives. The focus is on the volume of waste each period generated.

NRW Logo 2012-10-00 LgeThis lesson has been developed as part of the Schools Recycle Right Challenge for Planet Ark’s National Recycling Week. Register your lesson or other activities so they can be counted towards the national achievement and to receive other free support materials.


Learning goals for this activity include: The remains from past periods provide clues about how people lived. Archaeological sites are extremely valuable and must always be managed and protected.

Australian Curriculum content descriptions:

  • Year 7 History: The importance of conserving the remains of the ancient past, including the heritage of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples. (ACDSEH148)

Additional Cross-curriculum priorities: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Histories and Cultures OI.5.

Year level: 7

Time needed: 60 min

Level of teacher scaffolding: Medium – Discuss any issues that students bring up. Challenge preconceived options about Indigenous peoples.   

Resources needed: Computers or tables, Internet, paper for taking notes

Digital technology opportunities:

Lake MungoDetailed information and curriculum is available at

Assumed prior learning: Aboriginals have occupied Australia for at least 50,000 years. They have a very rich culture. When referencing The Romans, it refers to a period in Europe’s history around 2000 years ago.

Key words: Archaeologist, archaeology, waste, rubbish, restoration, conservation.

Cool Australia’s curriculum team continually reviews and refines our resources to be in line with changes to the Australian Curriculum.

These Planet Ark resources were developed by Cool Australia with funding from the Alcoa Foundation.


Teacher Worksheet

Teacher preparation

Overarching learning goals: The remains from past periods provide clues about how people lived. Archaeological sites are extremely valuable and must always be managed and protected.

Teacher content information: Lake Mungo is a semi-arid area in NSW about 100km from Mildura. When the region was much wetter during the past ice age, the lake was filled by a river. Since then the climate in this region has changed and there has been no water in the lake for thousands of years.

The Aboriginals

Lake Mungo 40,000 years ago must have been like the Garden of Eden. The Aboriginals living by this lake were among the most sophisticated people in the world. Their burials of Mungo Lady and Mungo Man show spiritual beliefs not found anywhere else during this period.

Over the past 50,000 years the waste of the Aboriginals living along the shore of the lake has been progressively covered by clay and sand into strata. Now the dunes are slowly eroding, some of the amazing artefac

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Student Worksheet

The history of waste.

Let's take a historical look at what's left after people have finished using things and places. You will compare the waste of three different cultures from three different periods, tens of thousands of years ago, two thousand years ago and currently. Use the following PowerPoint and the videos to source your answers. 


Lake Mungo

Watch the two videos about lake Mungo on this website:

1a) Describe why the site at Lake Mungo is so valuable?

 1b) Summarise what has been found out about Lake Mungo Aboriginals.

1c) Compare how has Lake Mongo changed over time.

 1d) Recommend what should be done to protect the area.

 1e) Discuss what we might still learn about the area?



 1f) Discuss if their rubbish had an impact on the environment?

 The Romans meant business

Go through the second part of the PowerPoint about the archaeology found about the Romans in

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