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Cooee5 Pioneers

A different type of success

Mary Bryant was one of the first successful escapees from the fledgling Australian penal colony. Learn more.

A popular song from the early years of Australia's colonial past is "Bound for Botany (Sydney) Bay")


The Horrible Histories team have produced a lighthearted episode called the "Australia Song" that captures some of the difficulties that pioneering convicts experienced. Show lyrics for a singalong.


Mary Wade. The youngest ever convict to be transported to Australia at the age of 11. Her hideous crime was that she stole
another girls clothes and for that she was sentenced to death by hanging. Luckily for her, an issue relating to
George III and his mental health meant that all the women on death row had their death sentence changed to living
in Australia. Mary spent her life in Australia reproducing and made it to 21 offspring.

Mary Wade is considered to be one of Australia's founding mothers who at the time of her death had 300 descendants.
One of her most famous descendants is former Australian Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd! Learn more.

Pioneers: Hume & Hovell

Pioneers: Burke & Wills

Pioneers: Gold Mining Game

Cooeee! Even though we are a young nation we have an interesting and colorful past. To know our past is to appreciate the legacy (what has remained) from those events. Our road trip takes to Australia's western state and its capitol, Perth. Perth was settled established in 1829 as a free settlement, for fear that the French might occupy the west coast. Perth is located on the beautiful Swan river and is famous for the lovely black swans. Remoteness and difficulty in sourcing cheap labour resulted in convicts being sent there from 1850 onwards. Like Sydney, Van Dieman's Land and Norfolk Island, the nearby port settlement of Freemantle had is own infamous jail. Learn more. Let's take some time to appreciate what our pioneers achieved in building the foundation of our great nation. Convicts, free settlers, gold seekers, explorers, pastoralists, farmers and miners all combined, to contribute to our wonderful heritage.

What are pioneers?  Simply they are the first people to explore, build, develop and settle new areas. Their courage and willingness to endure is so remarkable that we should acknowledge them to day. In this topic we will not cover notable Australians. They will be covered in Topic 8. An excellent overview of life in the early colonial period can be gathered from Thomas Keneally's  book Convicts and Colonisers. Here is an interesting interview with the author. Our pioneers can be summarized into 3 broad categories.

1: Convicts. Between 1788 and 1868, about 162,000 convicts were transported from Britain to various penal colonies in Australia. Although our history acknowledges the hardships and cruelty experienced by the convicts we should always remember that it was there labor and toil that built the buildings, roads, bridges and farms that established the first settlements. We each new set of convict arrival came soldiers, wives, administrators and free settlers. Each group can be considered pioneers as they built the towns and farms from nothing to a sustainable community laying the foundations for our modern nation. Below you will find a video about convict women. There pioneering courage must always be acknowledged.
Francis Greenway arrived in Sydney in 1814. His friends apparently told him to plead guilty to forging a document when he went bankrupt. Francis Greenway didn’t really do too badly for a convict as it wasn’t long before his architectural skills were soon noticed. Some of his work includes The Government House and St, James’s Church both in Sydney.

William Redfern, who has been called the father of Australian medicine, arrived as a convict in 1801 and was given an absolute pardon three years later. He had some basic medical training prior to arrival in Australia. He worked tirelessly to improve treatment and medical conditions of fellow convicts in the colony. To prove his abilities he agreed to appear before three of the colony's doctors, and so became the first Australian medical graduate.

Cascades Female Factory

2: Free Settlers. Initially there were 81 free people on the First Fleet. Many were tradesman, others opportunists looking to escape the problems of Europe and make their fortunes in a new land. Below is a video about John and Elizabeth McArthur (opportunists and pioneers of Australia's wool industry). Over time many free settlers came Australia. Many were wives and children. With time convicts who served their time became free and joined the swelling numbers of "free" settlers. They pushed past the coastal settlements into the interior of Australia. Below is a video about Blaxland Wentworth and Lawson who found a way through the Blue mountains which opened inland Australia. Hume and Hovell soon ventured inland and opened a path to Victoria. (see video, left). Most famous of all was the saga of Burke and Wills. (See video, left). Learn more about Australian explorers.

3: Mining. Today Australia relies heavily on mining the rich resources beneath our soil. Mining first began with the discovery of gold in the 1850's. Towns became cities and colonies became independent from the wealth that gold brought. Try your luck with the Gold Rush game (see left). Immigrants flooded in and new services like rail, ports, telegraph and road were built to cope with a growing nation. Today other minerals like coal and iron are essential to Australia's economy. While the gold rushes in the eastern colonies are generally well known. Learn more.

Cooee5 BlueMts Cooee5 Women Cooee5 Wool

  1. Select an event or person from Australia’s past. Use the  Australian History Timeline to assist you.
  2. Voices from the past. After some research place yourself in the ‘mind’ of a person who lived during those times. It could be a famous person or an everyday person. Tell us your story using voice recording/podcast.
  3. STEPS
    • Select your person.
    • Carefully find really interesting information
    • Write or type up a script
    • Watch the video below to learn how to voice record using Audacity
    • If you don't have Audacity  >> Download Audacity here for free.
    • Other voice recording option. Click here.
    • Watch the Audacity video. Click the button below.

Audacity Voice Podcast

    • Record your script and save/export it as a.mp3 file
    • Add your .mp3 file as embedded media to a new Cooee Club porfolio page

Cooee 5

I have-

  1. Completed my .mp3 recoding of a "voices from the past".
  2. Embedded my .mp3 file into my Cooee Club portfolio page
  3. Attempted the Quiz / puzzle


  • Australian pioneers
    • Convict women
    • The McArthurs and Wool
    • Explorers: Burke and Wills
    • History of Mining


  • General: Australian landscapes

  • Research using Kiddle.co
  • Producing a simple audio podcast