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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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S3 The Rocks – People, Places and Events

This program supports ‘The Australian Colonies’ content of the Stage 3 History Syllabus as well as learning across the curriculum in ‘Sustainability Education’,  ‘Information and Communication Technology Capabilities’ and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Histories and Cultures’.

Students will take part in a variety of pre-visit tasks to familiarise them with the history and heritage of The Rocks. They will then visit various sites in The Rocks that will be used to focus attention on colonial people, places and events during the 1800’s. The program takes the form of a fun and engaging mystery hunt for clues about important people, places and events that shaped Australia’s identity during the colonial period. Students will work in supervised teams and use Centre iPads to create a site study journal of  their investigations of the following people places and events.

  • the establishment of the NSW colony by Captain Arthur Phillip
  • convicts like Francis Greenway and John Cadman
  • Chinese immigration and the impact of gold discoveries in The Rocks and Australia
  • local gangs like The Rocks Push
  • daily life of The Rocks residents in 1880 -1900
  • the effects of the Bubonic Plague on The Rocks and Sydney
  • Jack Mundy and the growth of the environmental movement

 These journals will be sent back to school following the fieldwork.

Program location

The Rocks and Millers Point. 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 questions

  • what do we know about the lives of people in Australia’s colonial past and how do we know?
  • what were the significant events and who were the significant people that shaped Australian colonies?

Key syllabus outcomes

  • describes and explains the significance of people, groups, places and events to the development of Australia
  • describes and explains different experiences of people living in Australia over time
  • applies a variety of skills of historical inquiry

Integrating the Sustainability Education, Information and Communication Technology and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Histories and Cultures’ Cross Curriculum Priorities is a feature of the program.

Skills outcomes

  • read respond and write to show understating of historical matters
  • sequence historical people and events
  • use historical terms and concepts
  • locate information relevant to inquiry questions
  • explain why the behaviour and attitudes of people from the past may differ from today
  • use a range of communication forms including digital technologies

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.

View the extensive excursion Support Website for information and activities to enhance student's understanding about the excursion content. These activities could be done either pre or post the excursion. A student history journal is also able to be downloaded from the website, to engage students with the website. 

On the day activities

During the full day fieldwork excursion, students will:

  • visit various locations in The Rocks
  • participate in a variety of hands-on activities to describe and explains the significance of people, groups, places and events to the development of Australia
  • complete a History site study journal using centre ipads
  • visit Cadmans Cottage and Parbury Ruins to learn about European colonisation of Australia and the life of convicts


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

Excursion program downloads