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.

This 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 intention:

  • Students understand that the remains from past periods provide clues about how people lived.
  • Archaeological sites are extremely valuable and must always be managed and protected.

21st century skills: 

CommunicatingCritical ThinkingCultural Understanding               

Australian Curriculum Mapping

  • 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. 

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

Lake MungoDetailed information and curriculum is available at

Assumed prior learning: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples 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.

Keywords: 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.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples: Lake Mungo 40,000 years ago must have been like the Garden of Eden. There are three Aboriginal communities that are the traditional owners of this area. These are the Barkandji/Paakantyi, Mutthi Mutthi and Ngiyampaa people. 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 Aboriginal peoples living along the shore of the lake has been progressive

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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 traditional owners.

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 Ro

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