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Observatory Hill Environmental Education Centre

Observatory Hill Environmental Education Centre

Leading environmental education to empower learners for a sustainable future.

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S2 First contacts – Barangaroo

First Contacts is a History site study focusing on the first contacts between Gadigal Aboriginal people and European colonists. Students will visit Barangaroo Reserve to learn about traditional Aboriginal culture as well as places in Millers Point and The Rocks to learn about European colonial settlement. 

Program location

Barangaroo Reserve, Millers Point and The Rocks. View the Google Excursion Map with approximate walking route, meeting location and pick up location. Please note the bus drop off and pick up point is the bus bay at Argyle Place, at the base of Observatory Hill. 

Key inquiry question

  • What was life like for Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people before the arrival of the Europeans?
  • What was the nature and consequence of contact between Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people and early traders, explorers and settlers.

Key syllabus outcomes

  • describes people, events and actions related to world exploration and its effects.
  • describes and explains effects of British colonisation in Australia
  • applies skills of historical inquiry and communication
  • develops knowledge, understanding and empathy about people and cultures from different times and places, and how they may have lived and behaved differently from today
  • understands peoples impact on the environment, and how their use of it has changed over time.
  • develops an understanding of the inter-connections between people, cultures, societies and environments

Integrating the ‘Sustainability’ and ‘Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander histories and culture’ Cross Curriculum Priorities are a feature of the program.

Skills and outcomes

  • sequencing historical people and events
  • explaining how and why people in the past may have lived and behaved differently than today
  • encouraging literacy skills in talking and listening.

Student pre-visit and follow up activities

Successful excursions have direct links to current classroom learning. Pre-visit activities carried out prior to the excursion will help students better understand their excursion content and provide connectedness and relevance to classroom learning.

Vist the 'First ContactsStudent Support Website for more information and student activities for this excursion.

On the day activities

During the full day fieldwork excursion, students will:

  • participate in a story at Barangaroo Reserve about the traditional custodians the land, the Gadigal People, and learn a traditional Aboriginal weaving technique to develop an empathetic understanding of Aboriginal culture
  • visit Parbury Ruins, the underground foundations of an 1820 convict’s house, and view artefacts from this archaeological site. Students will learn about the original occupants of the house and take part in a game to identify archaeological artefacts typical of this period.  
  • visit The Rocks Discovery Museum to view historical artefacts from Gadigal Aboriginal people, and first fleet convicts and colonists, using skills of historical inquiry and communication.


  • Government Schools: $15 per student
  • Non-Government School $25 per student (GST free). Minimum cost of $600.

Excursion program downloads