Years 4, 5
Resource Type

Life Onboard the First Colonising Ships to South Australia

  • Critical & Creative Thinking
  • Ethical Understanding
  • Geography
  • History
  • Humanites and Social Sciences
  • Intercultural Understanding
  • Literacy
  • Personal and Social Capability

Life Onboard the First Colonising Ships to South Australia

This video from the South Australian Maritime Museum describes what life might have been like on board some of the early colonial ships to South Australia.

The First Colonising Ships to South Australia



Year 4


AC9HS4K03 –  the experiences of individuals and groups, including military and civilian officials, and convicts involved in the establishment of the first British colony

AC9HS4S05 – draw conclusions based on analysis of information

AC9HS4S07 – present descriptions and explanations, using ideas from sources and relevant subject-specific terms

Year 5


AC9HS5K01 – the economic, political and social causes of the establishment of British colonies in Australia after 1800

AC9HS5S05 – develop evidence-based conclusions

AC9HS5S07  – present descriptions and explanations, drawing ideas, findings and viewpoints from sources, and using relevant terms and conventions

Discussion Questions

Do you think the doldrums (standstill) or the storms would have been worse for passengers?

Why was copper lining added to the outside of the ship?

Mary Thomas commented on many things in her diary. Unpack what she recorded and your reactions to that information:

  • “[the country] resembled an English park with long grass in abundance and fine trees scattered about”
  • Mary Thomas soon met First Nations people and wrote that “…we were no strangers to them although they were to us”
  • Mary and her fellow new arrivals received help several times in the form of “bunch[es] of native watercress” and help “to get the fire started”

Where to Next?

To learn more about Life Onboard and the history of early migration to South Australia you could

Visit the South Australian Maritime Museum


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