Activity Introduction

Quick summary: Students investigate the resources used by Australia’s Indigenous peoples for tens of thousands of years. They compare their resource use with what we consume today. Students extrapolate and compare the impact on our environment.

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:

  • Students learn how indigenous people have used their resources for tens of thousands of years. 
  • Students compare the impact on our environment between the past resource use by Aboriginals and our current resource use.

Australian Curriculum content descriptions:

Year 7 History:

  • The nature of the sources for ancient Australia and what they reveal about Australia’s past in the ancient period, such as the use of resources (ACDSEH031)

Cross-curriculum priorities: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures OI.2, OI.3.

Time needed: 60 min

Level of teacher scaffolding: Medium to high – It is difficult to find relevant quality material on the internet.

Resources needed: Access to the internet.

Digital technology opportunities: Use the Aboriginal website to find seasonal information Use Google Images to explore different kinds of Aboriginal tools. 

There’s an app for that: ImageSearch Pro gives you an easy way to do search on Google Image. Just type the keywords and ImageSearch Pro can start fetching images from Google.

Key words: Aboriginal, Indigenous, tool, technology, traditional, culture, country (as applied by Aboriginals).

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: Indigenous people have used their resources sustainability for tens of thousands of years. Students compare the impact on the environment between past resource use by Aboriginals and our current resource use. 

Teacher content information: Traditional Aboriginal cultural practices over at least 50,000 years has left a minimal environmental footprint other than where they managed country using fire. They had only a few belongings mostly consisting of tools, items of cultural importance, some clothing depending how cold it was and woven bags and baskets. They owned few things that couldn’t be carried and consisted of items made from rocks, wood and from plant and animal materials. While they had few belongings they did have an extremely rich culture that had blossomed over the tens of thousands of years.   

As part of their rich culture Aboriginal groups across the country have very specific seasonal calendars for their regions. The cale

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Student Worksheet

Thought starter: If you had to carry all your belongings with you all the time, how much could you take?

Step 1: What tool is that? Use Google Images to find out about the following photos. Use search words such as ‘Aboriginal tool and technology'. Answer the following questions: What are the tools? What are they used for? What are they made from?


Step 2: Detective story

1. This is a special place called Lake Mungo in NSW. Use Google Maps to find out where Lake Mungo is and use the satellite image to find out what it looks like. 


2. From this evidence, what do you think this area was like in the past?  

All over the area are old fire places. Using radio carbon dating, these fire places range in age from 20,000 to at least 45,000 years old.

3. Why is dating important?

This is what the people researching the area think the area looked like.

Step 3: Seasonal super market

Aboriginals obtained nearly all

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