The story of Burke and Wills workshop

The Burke and Wills Australian Exploring Expedition, Thomas Cousins engraver, 1861–62
90 minutes
Year level
Year: 5–6
$150 per group (up to 25 students)
Term 4: 50 students

Program changes in 2018

Due to our exciting Vision 2020 redevelopment project, this workshop will run in term 4 only.

The journey of Burke and Wills has all the elements of a great story: an ambitious plan, quirky characters and a tough environment.

On a guided tour, students investigate the history behind Burke and Wills' doomed 1860 transcontinental expedition to central Australia, viewing significant artefacts and artworks from our extensive Burke and Wills collection.

Students will engage in a role-playing activity, ordering key events in the story's timeline to gain an understanding of why the expedition was formed, what went wrong and why, and the hardships endured by explorers.

Student experience

Students will:

  • examine fascinating primary sources from the world's largest Burke and Wills collection in the Changing face of Victoria exhibition
  • order key events in the story’s timeline to gain an understanding of the causes and consequences of the expedition's failure
  • become explorers and work in groups to select equipment for a modern expedition
  • take a guided tour of the Library's unique heritage spaces, including the iconic La Trobe Reading Room.

Skills development

This program links to the Victorian Curriculum and assists students to:

  • sequence significant events in chronological order to create a narrative explaining the developments in Australia's colonial past (VCHHC082)
  • explain the significance of an event, individual or group that influenced change in the Australian colonies (VCHHC087)
  • explore reactions to a given situation or problem and consider the effect of pre-established preferences (VCCCTQ011).

Embark on a journey of discovery at the State Library

Held in the inspiring heritage setting of Australia's oldest public library, our school excursions offer students a uniquely immersive, enriching experience, encouraging return visits and life-long learning. The Library has provided free access to information and education since 1856, and we invite students to become part of history as they tour the breathtaking dome and view our historic collections. All tours and workshops are developed by experienced teachers, aligned to the Victorian Curriculum and facilitated by expert staff.

State Library Victoria is a Child Safe Organisation. Learn more about how we are working to ensure the wellbeing of children visiting the Library.