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Week 33: Fresh Water

[ View the related 'Weekly Post': Week 33: Fresh Water ]

This week Colonel Light and his surveying party  search for a suitable place to establish the colony in South Australia. They hunt for sources of fresh water and think about the best places for people to live, graze animals and grow crops. We will join Colonel Light on his expedition and think about the significance adequate supplies of fresh water has to the way people live and form communities.

Image of an oil painting, self portrait of Colonel William Light c.1815.

Inquiry Questions:

What strategies does Colonel Light use when looking for evidence of fresh water sources?

Why does Colonel Light consider access to fresh water to be the most important factor in choosing where to establish the colony?

What other factors do Light and his crew consider when selecting a site for the settlement?

Light makes some predictions about rainfall and water supply in South Australia. How do these predictions compare to the current situation in South Australia?

Research Topics:

What are the main sources of fresh water in Australia today? How do we access and manage our water supplies?

How did the Aboriginal people living in South Australia before 1836 access fresh water. How did water sources such as rivers and creeks influence the way these people lived?

Research the establishment of the other British colonies in Australia. How did access to fresh water impact on the development of these colonies?

What are the current issues relate to water supply in Australia? What has cause these issues and what are some possible solutions?

Historical Skills:


Historical terms and concepts

Find out the history of fresh water supplies in your area. Create a time line to demonstrate this.

Collate a class glossary of words associated with access to fresh water in Australia. e.g. reservoir, drought, filtration, desalination etc.

Historical questions and research

Find out what happened after Colonel Light chose Adelaide as the site for the South Australian colony. 

How have South Australians accessed fresh water since this time? 

using and analysing sources

Read Colonel Light's observations about the South Australian environment and climate. Light makes several judgements and assumptions based on what he observes. Print out this week's posts and use two different coloured highlighters to show:-

-the features and characteristics of the land and climate Light actually sees

-the features and characteristics of the land and climate Light assumes will be there based on his own knowledge.


Interpretation and perceptions

Consider the following statement made by Light

"The little river, too, was deep; and it struck me that much might hereafter be made of this little stream"

What does Light mean by this? How could you say the same thing using your own words?

Explanation and communication
Design and build a model to show how the people in your area access fresh water.

Activity Suggestions:

1 .This week we read that young Pullen,  one of Light's surveyors is very excited about the exploration in South Australia. Imagine that you are leading an expedition to choose a location for a new colony. Who will be in your expedition crew and what skills will they need to have? Make a list of all the things you will need to take with you. You also need to decide on some criteria for your location. What features will the area need to have and how will you know when you have found it?

2. What do humans use water for? Do some research to find out as many uses of water as you can. Consider how water is used in domestic homes, gardens, agriculture and industry. Examine your list and choose the top ten uses of water that you think are essential. Give reasons for your selection. For example, if we didn't have water to operate electricity generating plants we wouldn't have electricity. 

3. Compare how people use water differently around the world. Consider diverse locations such as Greenland, Papua New Guinea, Ethiopia, Sahara Desert, Amazon, Central Australia and Egypt.

4. Colonel Light writes about testing the water in streams and examining the soil during his search for fresh water. What qualities makes water suitable for drinking? Find out where the water you drink comes from and what happens to it before you drink it. What processes are used to make sure your drinking water is safe and who is responsible for this?

5. Design your own filter for cleaning water. Compare your design to other's in the class. Which is the most effective at filtering water and how can you measure this? Here's an idea to get you started:

Things you need

  • An earthen pot (flower pot) with a hole at its base
  • Gravel
  • Cotton wool
  • Sand
  • Muddy water

 What to do

  1. Line the bottom of the pot with cotton wool.
  2. Add a layer of sand.
  3. Add a layer of gravel
  4. Your water filter is ready!

 With this water filter, you can clean the muddy water. Try pouring the muddy water into the earthen pot and see how it goes. Water will flow drop by drop out of the hole at the base of the earthen pot. What do you observe?

6.How does your family use water? What strategies do you use to ensure you are not wasting water? Test out your knowledge by helping the family in the interactive  house and garden reduce the amount of water they use .

7. Australia is often referred to driest country in the world. What does this mean? How much rainfall do you have where you live? Design your own rain gauge and use it to collect and record how much rain you have in your area over a term. Compare the rain conditions in your area to other places in Australia.

What if?

What do you think would have happened if Colonel Light and his crew had been unable to find adequate sources of fresh water?

What do you think?

Consider the following statement and form your own opinion:

If we were going to choose a location for a new colony today,  fresh water would still be the most important resource to consider.

Stay Tuned...................

Next week we will catch up with Colonel Light and his crew again as they continue to search for fresh water.  We read about several encounters Light has with Aboriginal people and we will take a look at what was happening in 1836 from an Aboriginal perspective.

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