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Week 40: Commodious Harbour

[ View the related 'Weekly Post': Week 40: Commodious Harbour ]

After long journeys, many of our vessels have reached the shores of South Australia. This week we read of Colonel Light identifying the harbour that would become Port Adelaide. As we know, the coastline and environment looked very different in 1836 compared to today. It is hard to imagine the Port Adelaide area as marsh and swamp, with an abundance of flies and mosquitos. This was yet another challenge for our migrants. This week we examine the significance of the Port Adelaide area for these early English migrants and learn about how it continues to be an important region for South Australians today.

Cruickshanks Panorama photograph  by Captain Samuel Sweet, mid 1879. Courtesy SA Maritime Museum

Inquiry Questions:

1.    What factors influenced the choice of location for South Australia’s main harbour?
2.    How did the harbour of Port Adelaide operate in the early years of European settlement?
3.    How have imports and exports into South Australia changed since 1836?
4.    What is the significance of the Port Adelaide area for the Aboriginal people?

Research Topics:

1.    What role did ketches play in the transport of goods?
2.    Which buildings did the English first build in the Port Area and why?
3.    How has the harbour of Port Adelaide changed since 1836?
4.    The original custodians of the area now called Port Adelaide, the Kaurna people, named the area Yertabulti. What does this name mean and what are some of the other Kaurna names for places in South Australia?
5.    Port Adelaide was dubbed ‘Port Misery’ by some of the early settlers. Investigate the reasons for this unflattering nickname.

Historical Skills:

Chronology, Historical terms and concepts: •    Use the Internet to find at least 3 aerial views of Port Adelaide. Print the images and order them sequentially. What are your major observations in the photographs?
Historical questions and research:•    Which part of Port Adelaide was given the name ‘Port Misery?’ Why was this name given to the area?
•    Who had control of the harbour of Port Adelaide in the 1830s and 40s?
Analysing and using sources:•    Find out what the top 10 imports and exports (http://www.flindersports.com.au/portstatistics3.html) have been for South Australia over the past 4 years. Compare the data and discuss why the commodities change. What factors affect import and export?
•    Colonel Light describes the harbour as, “one of the finest little harbours I ever saw,” and “extensive, safe and beautiful than we could ever have hoped for.” What words would you use to describe the Port Adelaide harbour today? Write a poem depicting the current environment and industries.
Perspectives and interpretation:•    Did Colonel Light make the right decision in selecting the Port Adelaide area as the location for Adelaide’s major port? Write a persuasive text stating your point of view.
Explanation and Communication:•    Contact the Port Adelaide visitor Centre and find brochures that promote local tourist attractions in and around the Port River. Use this information to develop your own promotional brochure to entice visitors to the area.


Activity Suggestions:

  1. Create a diorama to show the Port Adelaide area prior to 1836. How is it different / same as today.
  2. Analyse the information provided by Flinders Ports, to find out detailed information about shipping and use of the river today. Use the map to identify the berths and write a short description about how each berth is used. 
  3. Select a period between 1836 and today and use a range of materials to create a collage that depicts the harbour of Port Adelaide in your chosen period.
  4. Organise a visit to the South Australian Maritime Museum to participate in the Move It, Move It program to develop a richer understanding of imports and exports into South Australia.
  5. Research and identify the features of a ketch. Make your own model of a ketch.
  6. Identify and locate on a map other major harbours in Australia. How are they the same / different?
  7. Go on a Port River cruise to see the current state of the inner harbour of Port Adelaide. Identify the changes that have occurred since 1836.

What if?

What if Colonel Light was unable to find a suitable harbour in the Adelaide region? What do you think would have occurred?

What do you think?

Discuss the following:
•    The Port Adelaide harbour was more idyllic before 1836.
•    Colonel Light made a good decision in choosing Port Adelaide as the location for South Australia’s major harbour.

Stay tuned…

As we read the journal entries, it can clearly be seen that the literacy skills of each writer varies greatly. As schooling was not compulsory in 1836, adults did not have the same literacy skills as they do today. Next week we will look at the literacy skills of our passengers and identify the reasons people’s abilities varied.

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