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Canberra's History: Site Study

What was here before?

Education Volunteer showing boomerangs to a group of students
Photo: Lannon Harley, National Museum of Australia

Have you ever wondered what the Canberra region was like 2000 years ago, 200 years ago or even 20 years ago?

In Canberra's History: Site Study students step back in time to explore the history of the National Museum of Australia peninsula, including its Indigenous people, the first European pastoral settlers, early Canberra government and today's National Museum.


Year levels3–6
Group size30 students (note that two groups can run concurrently)
Duration90 minutes
Cost$6 per student (2017)
$7 per student (2018)
AvailabilityTuesday–Friday at 10am and 1pm

Alternative times may be available for local schools. Please contact for further information.
Curriculum linksAustralian History curriculum links to our programs (225kb PDF)


  • Facilitate students' exploration of the history of the national capital as they examine sites, objects and stories on the peninsula surrounding the National Museum of Australia.
  • Help students understand time, continuity and change by exploring layers of history and human occupation that are marked in various ways around the site.


  1. Introductory activity – students are introduced to the concept of deep time through object handling and discussion.
  2. Site exploration – working in groups, students handle objects, listen to stories and explore the past through imaginative exercises at several outdoor sites around the National Museum.
  3. Reflection – students gather to discuss the link between the physical past of Acton peninsula and how history is represented within the Museum.

Exploring the Museum

For everything you need to know about visiting, see Plan and book a visit.

Related resources

These activity ideas might be useful in your classroom.

You may also be interested in these teacher resources:

or this interactive:

  • National Parks – use the clues to discover the mystery objects created by Myles Dunphy to live help his friends live in the Australian bush

You can also see the full list of resources related to historical skills.