The Colonial Era – School Tour of Melbourne

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EXPLORE Melbourne’s colonisation, European settlement and gold rush period, 1835-1901.
LEARN about the colonial settlers, their challenges, personalities and the impacts of colonisation on the First Nation people of the Kulin Nation.
VISIT historic buildings and places that tell the milestone stories of the colonial period such as exploration, ship arrivals, gold rush and boom, Eureka rebellion, Marvellous Melbourne and nationhood.
VIEW historic images and maps.
DURING the tour each student assumes a colonial identity.

STUDENTS of all ages respond enthusiastically to this challenging and stimulating journey through the plazas, streets, lanes and arcades of the Melbourne CBD. This interactive two-hour program allows them to explore the events of the colonial period through Melbourne’s history, identity and culture by visiting places which tell stories about milestones from Indigenous origins to early settlement to gold rush expansion to Marvellous Melbourne to Federation.
WE provide interactive activities e.g take students to buildings, handle artefacts, and examine images. Every student is assigned a different historic identity for the duration of the tour. They meet challenges in a fun way that promotes learning and questioning. We can also design a  specific mix of destinations and activities to meet your specific learning needs including from our many other school programs.   

TOURS are normally two hours and by arrangement, usually starting and finishing at Federation Square or as required.

SEE    Also our many OTHER SCHOOL PROGRAMS – Explorer, Federation, Aboriginal, Early Melbourne, Lanes, Literature, ‘Runner’, Street Art and more…

‘All three groups had a wonderful time … the boys (and teachers!) gained so much from your knowledge and expertise.  It was a wonderful way to start our unit and get the boys to engage with their learning and appreciate as well the impact of white settlement on the indigenous community and the development of Melbourne in general.  They loved hearing your stories and much of what you presented is being followed up and explored even further in the classroom’. Scotch College.
‘It was a very rich learning experience for our students and they thoroughly enjoyed it. The tour guides were professional, knowledgeable, and entertaining – the students were engaged right from the beginning.’ 
Our Lady of Immaculate Conception.
‘The kids loved it and really enjoyed being different characters (what a clever idea!). You have impressive knowledge and we all thought the tour was fantastic! The interactive things like lemon gum, Eureka flag, colonial tram tickets etc were a lovely touch’. Mother Of God Primary.

Pre-1835. Birramung Marr celebrates the Birrarung ‘River if Mists’ and the original federation of the Kulin Nation. The ‘Yarra Yarra’ was the site of the first explorers and settlers’ arrival in 1835. What was their impact on the Kulin Nation?

Fed Square: Federation square celebrates the birth of the Australian eastern market2nation and marks the end of the colonial period. 

St Pauls Cathedral 1854 Eureka demonstrations: – Gold rush, birth of Australian democracy and flag: 

271 Collins: The confidence of the gold boom with Collins Street as colonial financial centre gave Melbourne a boost as ‘Marvellous Melbourne.

The Block Arcade 1891: Rise and Fall of Marvellous Melbourne’s 

Royal Arcade 1869: Goldrush, arcades,  icons of Melbourne. Expresses the early falls6 1839confidence gained during the gold rush.’

The GPO building 1886: The Centre of Melbourne, The GPO represents ‘the tyranny of distance’ the unusual position that Australia occupied, a vast country distant from the mother country’

The 1880s – The Coles Book Arcade 1886: Nationalism, Federation, City of Literature. 

Presgrave Lane: Federation saw the introduction of many new services such as sewerage, child care, schools and healthcare services that saved millions of lives. Gallipoli was the really the national birth of Australia where two-up was played. 

Manchester Lane 1860s: Gold rush architecture, early settlement The Gold rush inspired immigration, democracy, working people, financial capacity and new technologies. it gave confidence to a young country and inspired trade connections around the world.

Flinders Lane: Colonial heritage warehouses.

Colonial tram system.

Flinders Street Station 1920s

And more resources…

Schools in the City Tour walking area (below):

 Website Resources Features indigenous and other resources including our own book The Melbourne Dreaming

Marvellous Melbourne Resources
Features photographs and video clips about artefacts featured in the Melbourne Story exhibition at the Melbourne Museum.
East Melbourne Historical Society. This site contains pictures from early settlement days in Melbourne.

Timeline of significant dates and events in Melbourne 1835 – 2000 Another website citing key dates but only from 1835 onwards. contains a brief overview of Melbourne and some good photographs of Melbourne today and in the past.

Also see Melbourne Walks’ Resources page for lists of further resources.

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