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Horse-Powered Australia

Three small boys riding a pony. The boy at the end is holding an unbrella.
Three boys on a pony, near Melbourne, about 1934. National Museum of Australia.

Imagine life in 19th century Australia without horses. How would explorers travel through the country? How would farms be established and maintained? What would have been the easiest method of communication over long distances?

In Horse-Powered Australia, students investigate the role of horses in the shaping of Australia, by handling objects and exploring the Museum’s temporary exhibition Spirited: Australia’s Horse Story.

Students use digital technologies to create photographic collages that illustrate aspects of the role of the horse in the development of Australia as a nation. All digital collages will be available to the teacher via email.


Year levels 5 and 9
Group size 40 students
Duration 2 hours
Cost $6 per student
Availability Tuesday–Friday at 10am and 1pm

Alternate times may be available for local schools. Please email for more information.
Curriculum links

The content rich Spirited exhibition can relate to many curriculum areas and year levels. This program specifically targets the Year 5 and Year 9 Australian Curriculum: History. For more information on tailoring this program to a specific year level please email

Year five

The nature of convict or colonial presence, including the factors that influenced patterns of development, aspects of the daily life of the inhabitants (including Aboriginal Peoples and Torres Strait Islander Peoples) and how the environment changed (ACHHK094).

The impact of a significant development or event on a colony; for example, frontier conflict, the gold rushes, the Eureka Stockade, internal exploration, the advent of rail, the expansion of farming, drought (ACHHK095).

Year nine

The experiences of slaves, convicts and free settlers upon departure, their journey abroad, and their reactions on arrival, including the Australian experience (ACDSEH083).

The extension of settlement, including the effects of contact (intended and unintended) between European settlers in Australia and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples (ACDSEH020).

Living and working conditions in Australia around the turn of the twentieth century (that is 1900) (ACDSEH090).


  • Provide students with the opportunity to explore the role of horses in helping to establish and expand the Australian colonies.
  • Provide students with the opportunity to develop their skills in historical source selection and analysis and use these skills to create digital collage.


  1. Introductory activity – students explore objects that relate to the variety of roles horses have played in the establishment and expansion of the colonies in Australia.
  2. Gallery activity – working in groups, students explore Spirited: Australia’s Horse Story and photograph objects that illustrate aspects of the role horses played in the development of Australia as a nation.
  3. Reflection – in groups, students create digital collages that demonstrate their understanding of the role of the horse in the establishment and expansion of Australia. Students gather to share these collages and discuss their selections.

Exploring the Museum

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