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  6. Rationale for the 2003 project
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Rationale for the 2003 project

  • Develop a unit of work with an Indigenous aspect.
  • Develop a multi-stage unit of work that reflects and demonstrates a range of teaching and learning strategies, and assessment practices that will assist all students to demonstrate their numeracy understanding.
  • Gain an appreciation, understanding and acknowledgement of the Aboriginal community.

Deciding on the project

In the planning stage the team considered three ideas:

  • using the established Aboriginal Culture Centre at Balladoran and undertaking a series of Maths activities around the centre
  • using a local area in Gilgandra that has great importance and significance to the Aboriginal community and adapting learning activities to fit into the local context
  • looking at Aboriginal hunting and gathering equipment – comparing weights, lengths and so on.

The 2003 team decided to use the local area, within the bounds of the Gilgandra township, as the centre of the project. The area was The Pines where the local Aboriginal community lived from 1955 to the early 1970s. Unfortunately very few members of the younger generation were aware of the importance of this site. The team decided that students should be made aware of the importance of the area through an excursion. The students involved in the excursion were the first group of students to visit the area in more than 25 years.

The team felt there was a need for all to appreciate, understand and acknowledge the importance and significance of the Aboriginal culture within the wider community.

Initially it was decided that the main activity would be a mapping and scale drawing of The Pines area. As the team developed the unit they realised that even though this was a fantastic idea it was beyond the realistic scope of what they could achieve. The amended plan resulted in the development of six learning activities in The Pines area. These activities were predominately mathematical but also contained important aspects of Aboriginal history, art, English (creative writing), HSIE and environmental science.

Subsequent programs in the 2004 and 2005 projects built on the original planning.

Link to slideshow of 5 of Link to slideshow of 5 Planning activities

The Pines Maths Day

Field Study 7 November 2003

The following is an outline of the times, organisation and agenda.

9.15am Depart high school
9.30am Depart primary school
9.40am Arrive The Pines
9.45am Introductory talk: introduce visitors to students – Mrs Baker, Mrs Ziems, Mr Howard, Mr Dixon, Mrs Mohomed, Andrew Townsend, Henry Louie
10.15am Recess
10.35am Organisational talk: boundary limits, behaviour, expectations, location of activities, toilets, etc
10.45am Activities commence: 6 groups rotate through activities, 8 students per group, activities are clearly numbered, approximately 20 minutes each with 5 minutes for changeover included in the following times:
10.45 Activity 1
11.05 Activity 2
11.25 Activity 3
11.50 Activity 4
12.10 Activity 5
12.30 Activity 6
12.50 Activity 7 (optional, depending on time available) Measuring length of The Pines fronting Hargraves Lane
1.05pm Depart for schools

Analysing BST and SNAP Results

Gilgandra Public School BST*

Analysis of the Gilgandra Public School BST results showed the following areas of concern:


  • money problems
  • fractions
  • division – 3 digit by 2 digit with remainder
  • subtraction – 3 digit with trading


  • 3-dimensional prisms


  • area – estimating space converted
  • length – perimeter
  • time – calendar

Gilgandra High School SNAP **

Analysis of the Gilgandra High School SNAP results showed the following areas of concern:


  • conversion between units
  • perimeter of figures
  • scales


  • reading directions
  • locating positions
  • given a location, writing the coordinates

*The Basic Skills Test (BST) is a statewide government school testing program for Year 3 and Year 5 students. It is available to schools in other sectors.

** The Secondary Numeracy Assessment Program (SNAP) is a statewide government school testing program for Year 7 students with schools having the option of retesting in Year 8. It is available to schools in other sectors.

Resource people

The following people provided a valuable contribution to the development of the Gilgandra materials.

Lyn Andrews Paula Payne
Sheila Bamblett Brad Salter
Wayne Bamblett Ray Thompson
Archie Brown Andrew Townsend
June Carr Lois Towney
June Curran Daphne Walker
Jim Curran Gilgandra Aboriginal Lands Council
Don Dixon Gilgandra Library
Allan Hall Gilgandra Shire Council
Yvonne Hill Staff of Gilgandra High School
Henry Louie Staff of Gilgandra Public School
Neville Merritt Visitors Information Centre
Marie Mohomed

Team Gilgandra

The following people developed the materials for the Gilgandra unit with the help of the community members.

Tanya Moore
Acting AEA
Gilgandra High School

Henry Louie
Acting AEA
Gilgandra Public School

Mary Nixon-Solomon
Gilgandra High School

Eileeyo Smith
Gilgandra Public School

Andrew Gillett
AP Gilgandra Public School
Stage 3 Classroom Teacher

Harry Langes
Head Teacher
Gilgandra High School

Di Baker
Head Teacher: Teaching and Learning
Dubbo College South Campus

Suzanne Ziems
Senior Curriculum Officer
Board of Studies
Project Coordinator

Peter Howard
University Mentor
Australian Catholic University, Sydney

Kevin Lowe
Chief Education Officer
Aboriginal Unit BOS

The team wishes to publicly thank and acknowledge the important role played by Gilgandra Local Aboriginal Lands Council and the Gilgandra Pines Committee.

Video – Elder Marie Mohomed speaks at The Pines

Marie Mohomed:
I came to Gilgandra with my husband who was a shearer at the time and we had nowhere to live so we lived up here in The Pines.
We had no materials like for building a house or anything, so we used to get kerosene tins and cut them open and make our houses out of that. Until the government gave us an army tent and we used to live in tents then. But me and my husband lived down around the corner of that forestry there and also my mother lived around here somewhere and my brother lived over there where the other trees are and everyone was sort of had their own little 'bindi' as the saying is.
We had houses of tin, kerosene tins and what timber we could get and we had no water in those days, like the windmill wasn't up until after nearly all the people left. But we used to have to cart our water in drums in the back of the men's trucks. We used to have our own tank, we used to have it for drinking. But in older days, some women had to cart their washing to the river down there. It's a good way down to the river.. And we used to have to take our washing down there and we washed our clothes there. It was nice and white because we used to boil them in those days. Boil our clothes.
But as we lived here we were happy family. There was no fighting, there was no drinking amongst the people and everyone was happy. It was a real happy environment amongst the people and we used to have church a lot. Can you remember Julie how many families were living up here at the time? A good few, over 12 because they were scattered through there and their families have grown up now and they've gone and ventured out into careers. And tell you what, even though kids that were brought up here in The Pines those kids have learnt a good education. Some are as teachers, some as office workers in offices. I'll tell you what, they really were good kids in those days. I'm not skiting about them. They didn't have the enjoyment the kids of today have got like TV and wireless. They didn't have wireless because there was no electricity here and they just had their fun of making games like rounders and those sorts of things.
So happy people. That is how I put them. They were happy, really, really happy.
I really enjoyed living here as a young bride, newly wed, living up here in The Pines because it was so friendly and supportive. Everyone was happy, no fighting, no squabbling, no messing around.
Marie, what about food?
Well our men used to go and hunt when they wanted to go up through The Pines there and hunt rabbits and that. Some worked out on properties and farms and the cockies would give them sheep to kill and bring home. That's how they fed the kids, the lot of them lived on old mutton, rabbits, goanna and we used to eat them.
What did they hunt with? What did they use?
Used to have what were they called, all sorts of traps, bundi.
Real hard stick to bash it over the head?
No hit it around the legs to stop it. That used to be my favourite.
Is that an adaptation of the boomerang they threw at the legs?
Knock 'em over and grab them.

Video – Elder Henry Louie speaks at The Pines

Henry Louie:
I lived here at The Pines. I came here when I was 5 years old until I was about 10. We lived down the back there near the servo. Up this way a little bit the Bannas lived there. I used to live just here near to that part of the roads there.
We used to be all together there at the place the kids played. We could play games, Eileeyo and the boys. We never had any toys. We made our own with batteries and things. (Can't think of the name of it.) Got a tin and we put it in the middle and throw marbles to get into it. Then we had sticks.
Yes. Fly.
Yes, fly. Roundies, we played and that.
I don't remember, I know they had a hard time but when I was a kid there was no pressure, no real pressure on me and that. We used to run around all over the place in here, we used to have no shoes on. We used to run around with no shoes on and when we had to go to school we had to put shoes on. They used to kill my feet. Those little cactus, tiger burrs, they wouldn't, didn't use to hurt us.
They were here then?
Yes same now right through. We used to have to cart our water. I can remember carting the water. I can't remember where from though. Marie would know all that, she was older. She lived down a couple of doors from us.
So where did you get the water from? You didn't have taps?
No, didn't have taps. Had to cart it. Our bath water, we had a tub, old tubs and had to heat the copper up to heat the water and when they had any washing they didn't have washing machines so we used to have to boil our clothes and mum used to have to scrub them.
On a washing board.
So then when I started school at the primary school, at lunchtime we used to come home for lunch. We used to run from the primary school back here for lunch and then run back on time. I still had time to play. That was how quick we was. It didn't seem that far for us, we were younger, didn't worry us. We all used to do it. There wasn't one out. We all used to do it.
In the early 70s we moved into town. Some started moving before that in 69 and 68, they started moving into town. We move over here first when the flood, the first big floods in the 50s. They moved here. They used to live over the other side of the bridge on the other side near the racecourse there. They moved over here because there was a flood over there. I think that is about it.
When youse came here, there were no houses. How did you, did youse build or?
We had to just build with tin or whatever we could grab hold of. Like, this was our floor.
They had a dirt floor.
Some of those that were here before were lucky, they had a floor. They might have had the kitchen in the floor part, but the bedrooms and that was dirt. You used to have to sprinkle water over the floor to keep the dust down. Most of it was tin, bits of tarp whatever we could put up. Marie, her husband built a house, wooden house out of timber, she was living in luxury. So was Bannas, mates and us just lived around. When it rained we got wet. When it rained at night we just stayed in our bed and covered up. It leaked. The fireplace was made with tin around a fire bucket.
So how many families were here when you were here? Those 5 years you were here.
There were about 10 or 15.
Scattered through?
No just in this area... right down along the fence line. There was an old fence line along there somewhere.
Was this real thick? Were there a lot more pine trees?
Back in this area. These are young ones, most of the smaller trees wouldn't have been here. They were only just growing when I was here.
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