Monday, November 14, 2011


The Middles' history unit is entitled,"History in the Making!" (Thanks Luke for the great suggestion for the title!) We are exploring how historical events have changed our home state of Victoria, Australia. However, we would also love general answers to our questions about how historical events change the world.

What sort of events change history and how?
Have historical events changed you in any way?
How has history affected your ancestors?
Can you name some good changes and some bad changes that have occurred?
What event has most changed Victoria?
What sort of events have affected Victoria's history?
What can you do now that you might not have been able to do 50 or 100 years ago?

We would love to hear your thoughts!


  1. I noticed that a few weeks ago you looked at the poem 'In Flanders Fields', and on Friday at 11 o'clock on the 11th day of the 11th month, 11.11.11, we had a two minute silence in our school to commemorate lives lost in war. On Sunday there was a ceremony in our town, held at our war memorial. Almost every small town in Britain has a war memorial, with names of townspeople who lost their lives in WW1 and WWII, and we think of all the families whose lives were changed by losing fathers, brothers, sons. Although there are now very few people left who fought in WWII, I think our lives are still affected as we remember how those events changed history in our country and around the world. This sounds like a really meaty topic to get into - I look forward to seeing more of your work on it!
    Mrs M & A Room with a View

  2. What sort of events change history and how?
    There are a number of events that can change history. Here are three…
    Catastrophe: There could be a catastrophe that alters history, for example Pompeii on the side of a volcano was buried by a pyroclastic (super heated gas and rock) engulfed it. Pompeii lay forgotten for nearly 1700 years.
    War: Many civilisations have risen and fallen due to war. Ancient Rome used its armies to control most of the known world but eventually Rome itself was attacked.
    Disease: The Black Plague (or Black Death) reached its peak in Europe in about 1350. It is estimated it may have killed more than half the people then in Europe.

    Have historical events changed you in any way?
    Mrs M mentioned WWII in a comment. That war made a big difference in my life. Here’s how…
    When war broke out, my father joined the Australian Army. He met a best mate while there, Andy. They trained together and were sent to Singapore to defend it against Japan. When Singapore fell to the Japanese, My father and Andy became POWs and spent the remainder of the war in Changi. My father’s experiences there continued to effect his health when he returned.
    SO far you might wonder how this changed me. Well, on return to Australia, they agreed to keep trying to see each other as best mates should. My father would travel the long road from Sydney down to southern NSW. At that time, there was still quite a bit of the main highway unsealed and therefore dirt so going was slow. When he visited Andy, he met his wife and his wife’s family. They were dairy farmers. In the family was a young woman named Jean. May father and Jean liked each other and eventually married.
    So, you see, as tragic as the war had been, if it hadn’t been for the war, my father would never have met my mother and I would never have been born.

    How has history affected your ancestors?
    You probably already know of the convicts sent from England to stay in Australia. On board one of the ships in the Second Fleet was a man named Tucker. He was a convict and an ancestor of mine on my father’s side.
    On my mother’s side, in early Australia, there was a push to get more people to come out to this big land. People were offered cheap transport to get here with the promise of land. My Scottish great, great grandfather brought his young family to Australia, eventually finding his was down to the area I live in now. The year was 1847 and my mother’s side of the family are all around the shire.

    Can you name some good changes and bad changes that have occurred?
    Good changes: decimal currency in 1966 replacing the old pounds, shillings and pence made working out money much easier
    Bad changes: The growing problems with pollution

    What event has most changed Victoria?
    Separating from New South Wales. At first all of the eastern half of Australia was known as New South Wales. As colonies grew in other places, states started to separate from NSW so they could set up their own government .

    What sort of events have affected Victoria’s history?
    In 1901 when Australia became a nation, Victoria became part of Australia as did all states.
    Railways opened up the states but something went wrong in the planning so Queensland built narrow gauge tracks, NSW used standard gauge and Victoria used broad gauge. This caused trouble at borders when all goods and passengers had to change trains.

    I'll add another comment to answer your last question...

  3. What can you do now that you might not have been able to do 50 or 100 years ago?
    Let’s look at 50 years ago as I was bout your age back then.
    TV: In 1961 I was in Year 1. We had had television for five years but don’t expect colour. That was years away. We watched in black and white.
    Cinema: When we went to the movies, all of us would stand for the playing of “God Save the Queen” before the movies.
    Money: If my dad asked me to go to the shop for him, I would ask if I could have thruppence (3 pennies or about 2 cents). If he said yes I was able to buy a bag of lollies.
    Shopping: There were no supermarkets or shopping centres. We would buy groceries from the corner store and go to the different shops in town for other things.
    Trams: Sydney and Melbourne had trams across the city. In 1963, Sydney closed down the tram system whereas Melbourne was smarter and kept theirs. The old tram shed on Sydney Harbour was pulled down. The Opera House now stands there.
    Trains: We had electric and diesel trains but steam trains were still very common. I can remember travelling on trains to the country where a steam train was pulling us.
    Computers: We didn’t have them.
    Music: We had radio and record players. The radios were big, not like the small ones you get today. We had records to play. There weren’t any CDs, DVDs, VHS video tapes, cassette tapes, blurays, iPods.
    Games: We played board games such as Scrabble, Monopoly, Cluedo, chess, checkers and marbles. Electronic games wouldn’t come around until the 1970s
    Take Away: We didn’t have McDonalds, KFC, Red Rooster, Pizza Hut or anything like that. Take away was buying a pie and a drink at the shop.
    Drinks: We did have Coca Cola, Pepsi, lemonade and other flavours of soft drinks but there were no screw tops. You needed a bottle opener to take a lid off.
    Sports: Much was the same as today except NSW only had rugby league and Victoria only had VFL (now called AFL).
    Streets Paddlepops: Now there’s an ice cream that’s been around a long time. I can’t remember their exact price in 1961 but I do remember buying them a school in 1965 for 6d (that’s six pence or 5c).
    Wages: My dad earned about twenty pounds ($40) a week. With that, we were able to pay the home loan, buy food and clothes, have some special treats and save some money.
    Phones: There were no mobile phones and not everyone in our street had one so people would come to our house to use our phone. That wasn’t too bad but sometimes we’d get emergency phone calls at night for someone else and my dad would have to put on his dressing gown to go and get them.
    Crime: We never thought to lock our doors back them after all why would anyone steal from us?

    I could keep going on but I think I’ve given you enough examples of what life was like for a child 50 years ago. I hope this all helps your history studies.

    Ross Mannell (teacher)
    NSW, Australia

  4. Events that change history.
    When I think of events that change history it is hard to go past all the sad things that happen in the world - war, famine, drought, other natural disasters (just to name a few). Many positive things have changed our way of life - inventions eg. telephone, electricity and medicine. These may not be considered events as such - but our lives would be very different without them.

    How has history affected my ancestors?
    My ancestors came from a small farming area in Prussia and were persecuted for their religion. They made wine in their home country but were forced to flee. They arrived in Adelaide and walked to the Barossa Valley where they became successful wine makers. We don't know alot about them as all documents and history of Prussia were destroyed. I'm happy to say that my part of the family moved to Victoria to a small place called Tarrington.

    Good things that have changed our history.
    I am always happy when I learn that Aboriginal people have succeess - and how they help their communities to lead better lives. I also love our multicultural city - it is exciting to walk down the streets and see and hear so many languages. I also enjoy the new foods we have been introduced too. They are just a couple of things that I think have changed our history.

    Such wonderful questions Middles - I think I could write on this subject all day!

    Chris McDonald

  5. Hello Middle Matters,
    Iknow something about history.WWI and WWII changed me becuase my great grandpa "William Mackentire"died in WWI.
    In the 1st world War people wouldn't be trained that well. In the 2nd World war there was entertainment so the soldiers didn't feel the pain or think about the war.


  6. Hello MMY,

    I dropped in on your Celebration of Learning session today and I was very impressed by the work you have all done in your inquiry on Victoria. The geographical brochures were very professional and the artwork very creative. Caitie, Georgia, NIc and Mark were doing a fantastic job presenting and engaging the Preps in the history of Victoria. Well Done MMY.

  7. Thanks Judy,

    We love feedback. Mrs Mack and I are very proud of the learning our students have done this term!

    Marg Yore