Gold Rush (Australia)


my_cloudHere are some resources suitable for Year 5 & 6

Australian History – Gold rush Literary unit of work- Upper Primary
Victorian Curriculum: Humanities /History / Levels 5 and 6 / Historical Knowledge /
 The Australian colonies


  1. Clark, M. (2010).  Fool’s Gold. Puffin Books: In Aussie Bites Series. Camberwell:
    Penguin Group Australia.

Text: realistic fiction – juvenile fiction – suitable for English as an Additional Language (EAL) learners.
An introductory text introducing readers to life on the gold fields through the eyes of two children Jack and Tom, who have arrived in the Victorian gold fields with their families. Readers are introduced to the harsh realities of the voyage to Australia and the realities of life on the gold fields. The text centres around the legend of McHool’s gold and McHool’s ghost and the determination that Jack and Tom have of locating McHool’s gold to help their families overcome the financial difficulties of life on the gold fields. The key themes of friendship, overcoming hardship, determination as well as migration and challenging life situations for children are explored.


2. Curriculum Corporation (2009). GoldRush!
Retrieved from

(Digital resource and cross curriculum priority)
This interactive digital resource incorporates the painting Australian gold diggings by Edwin Stocqueler as an authentic image of mining life to immerse students and promote introductory discussions and pre-knowledge prior to commencing the interactive component. Other introductory features include timelines of the gold rush period, world maps showing migration routes and currency of the 19th century. This interactive resource enables direct immersion through simulation of the hardships encountered on the goldfields.
3. Miesen, C. (2012). The Ruffs:Aussie Bites.  Melbourne: Penguin Group Australia
Available from
(eBook – digital resource)

This text introduces readers to some comical characters in a bushranger family. The text follows the antics Jimmy Good-for-Nothin’ in his quest (and eventual success) in becoming a wanted bushranger. This text uses engaging language and introduces the reader to the spoken Australian twang of the day. This text is perfect for shared reading or read aloud enabling the comical characters to be brought to life. These main themes are introduced to the reader: bushrangers, wanted posters, specific language e.g.: panning for gold. The short chapter book uses play on words for real individuals such as Ned Smelly.  This text is suitable for students with learning difficulties or reading challenges as the eBook enables students to search any unknown words using the inbuilt ‘search’ facility. Also the eBook enables students to listen to the text via the ‘text to speech’ setting.


4. Drummond, A. (2016). Peter Lalor: Eureka! Mordialloc: Green Barrow Publishing.
(Literary non-fiction)

This text gives great insight into one of Australia’s greatest historical figures as well as introducing the reader to a simplified biographical text incorporating images which are presented in a narrative, chapter text.  The author takes the reader on a journey with a starting point of describing the Southern Cross, then chronologically explores the events leading to Eureka Stockade and the role Peter Lalor played in the goldfields through to his life in the Victorian parliament. Many significant events of the time are explored throughout the text such as the potato famine and the Eureka Stockade and introduces many characters associated with the Gold Rush and the Victorian Parliament such as Raffaelo Carboni, Alicia Dunne and Charles Hotham.
5. Wang, G. (2011).  Meet Poppy. In Our Australian Girl Series 1:  
Brisbane: the Penguin Group.
(cross curriculum priority- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures)

This brings to life many disheartening behaviours and the treatment of indigenous or mixed race children during the Gold Rush. The character Poppy and her brother live on a Mission. The story unfolds exploring how they came to live on the Mission. This text subtly introduces events and common occurrences of the time, such as the removal of indigenous children from their families. Poppy eludes to this through her conversations with Gus. Other injustices upon indigenous people that are highlighted in the text are: the lack of acknowledgement of ancestral or heritage beliefs, the non-acceptance of mixed race families and the anguish bestowed on these children of enforcing a life of domestic services to non-indigenous families. We follow Poppy on an adventurous journey to find her beloved brother who has run away to find gold and to escape life on the Mission and domestic life.

6. Wilkinson, C. (2008). The night we made the flag: A Eureka story. Fitzroy: Black Dog Books.
(Picture book)
This fictional picture book shares with the reader the role women played in the creation of         the Eureka flag. Through the rich and detailed illustrations, the realistic scenes of that night are brought to life. For EAL or students with language difficulties, this text provides a clear explanation of what may have transpired. This text also provides discussion points as to the power of text and image in depicting events of the past and the research conducted to enable greater accuracy.
7. Matthews, P. (2015). 1854 Do you dare?:  Eureka Boys. Australia: Penguin Group Australia.
(Fiction text)

Through the author’s own family stories passed on from the 1800s and their fascination with the history of Sovereign Hill, the reader is taken on a perilous journey with Henry as the central character.  The text gives great depth and detail into the feelings, emotions and attitudes of the people. Henry takes the reader on a perilous journey through the different struggles and difficulties families encountered under the law of the time and the impact of the changes brought about by those willing to dare join a rebellion and stand up for what was right and fair.

8. Wheatley, N. (2000). A banner bold: the diary of Rosa Aarons In My Australian Story Series. Maryborough: Scholastic Press.
(historical fiction text)

This novel is written as a collection of diary entries narrated by Rosa Aarons as she records the events witnessed after arriving at the goldfields. Rosa’s character shows strength through her narration, entertaining and engaging the audience with her trials and tribulations from the voyage to Australia to the harsh conditions met on arrival and eventual residing in Ballarat and Melbourne.  This text enables students to visualise historical events in a chronological order leading to the Eureka Stockade through engaging diary entries.



Teacher resources to support this inquiry:

  • State Library of Victoria: (2016) Gold fever:
    retrieved from
  • Creative Educator (2016) Digital storytelling lessons: retrieved from:
  • Harvard Project Zero. (n.d) Visible thinking– Pictures of Practice retrieved from:
  • Hertzberg, M. (2009). Readers’ theatre texts to improve fluency and comprehension.
    e:lit – the Primary English Teaching Association Journal, 009, 1-8.
    Retrieved from: