AUSTRALIAN STORY An Illustrated Timeline – blog tour

History boring? Not on your Nelly! No way, José! Not with the books, resources and other media available nowadays. When I was at school, the common version of Australian history was rather selective. I knew what happened in 1066, I could recite the kings and queens of England and everyone knew that Captain Cook discovered Australia in 1770.

Indigenous artist, Lin Onus's famous work, with fruit bats hanging from Hills Hoist.

How fabulous that modern children have access to, not just the knowledge about the genesis of our continent around 200 million years ago when the land mass called Gondwana went its own way, but Indigenous history spanning 80,000 before the British colony began. Through every inglorious turn we took (like the racist White Australia Policy and on-going Aboriginal Deaths in Custody) to the life-changing inventions of ultrasound, electronic pacemaker, black box flight recorder, and man’s first powered flight (not the American Wright Brothers, but an Aussie, Lawrence Hargrave in 1894). And let’s not forget Vegemite and the Hills Hoist clothesline.

So, this is why I have much pleasure welcoming Tania McCartney, Australian author and and good friend as she celebrates her brand new book, AUSTRALIAN STORY: An Illustrated Timeline.

Schools and parents should heartily welcome this book, a collaboration between Tania and the National Library of Australia not just because it’s a good read but as a useful research book for children. In this blog, Tania has provided TEACHING NOTES.

Tania McCartney

TEACHING NOTES (for Key Stage 1 Children) by Tania McCartney

Australia has a rich and ancient history that’s as complex as it is fascinating. Writing Australian Story was like taking a trip through time – a journey that was both emotional and enlightening. It was a joy to learn even more about our incredible country whilst researching this book, and I look forward to sharing its content with school children all over Australia.

These teaching notes are designed for children in Key Stage I and can be adapted for older Key Stage II students by adding more complexity. The following components are ideal for complementing and enhancing studies in English and history, Indigenous study units, popular and Australian culture, media, technology, internet usage and research methods, an understanding of book production, layout and design, an understanding of text and imagery association, an understanding of chronology and time, teamwork, and an appreciation of our National Library’s digital collection. Tania McCartney, author   To look inside the book, click this link  Australian Story : An Illustrated Timeline

Book Study


In compiling the entries for Australian Story, the author researched via many different forms, including the internet, history books, images from the Digital Collection and discussion with teachers, historians, government departments and other people.

Discuss with children ways they could research a history book of this nature. If they were compiling a history book on their own life, who might they approach to research their story? Where else might they look? Have the children write a short account of their life so far, by noting down key moments in time, placed along a timeline.

Images and Layout

Most children’s books published by the National Library of Australia require usage of their extensive and impressive digital collection of photographs, sketches, prints, paintings, ephemera and other imagery. Australian Story incorporates many images from this collection.

Discuss why the author chose these particular images to represent entries in the book and why some are more attractive to children than others. Which images do the children like and which ones do they dislike? (attractive images may be colourful, childlike, interesting, funny, quirky / unattractive may be too graphic, age-inappropriate, convoluted, boring).

What is the importance of the timeline running along the bottom of the book’s pages? Why do we need this line?

Note: most but not all images used in Australian Story are from the Collection.

Class Activity

Choose a history entry from the book for each child in the class. Hand them an object, costume or sign that represents that entry. Read through the book and focus most particularly on the entries the children have been provided with. Tell the children that at the end of the reading, they will need to form their own human timeline, in chronological order of events.

Once the children have lined up chronologically, have them discuss amongst themselves if their placements are correct.

Book Details

Take a trip into the past––from the explosive beginnings of our planet to modern day Australia, in this fascinating journey through time. Featuring succinct entries on historical moments over the past 47 billion years, Australian Story covers ecological change, politics, invention, war, immigration, celebration, culture, modern technology and more.

Illustrated with a striking collection of photographs and images from the NLA’s digital collection, this is history for children like never before, and is a fascinating snapshot of our country. Australian Story tells who we once where, who we are today . . . and where we are going. Australian story is aimed at children in both Key Stage I and II.

Australian Story: an illustrated timeline (1 March 2012), $24.95
National Library of Australia, ISBN: 9780642277459

About the Author

Tania McCartney is an author of children’s books and adult non-fiction. Her works include You Name It (Hodder Headline 1995), Handmade Living: a designer collective (Handmade Press 2010) and the Riley the Little Aviator series (latest title: Riley and the Grumpy Wombat: A journey around Melbourne, Ford Street Publishing 2011). She is also an established magazine writer, editor and blogger. Tania is fascinated by history. She studied modern history as part of her university studies and is an avid reader of history books. She lives in Canberra with a husband, two kids and a mountain of books.


Monday 5 March
Blog Tour Schedule and Book Giveaway: Kids Book Review
Book Launch Party Wrap-Up Tania McCartney’s Blog
Book Give-away Alphabet Street

Tuesday 6 March
Book Review Buzz Words
Australian Story – Research Process Dee White’s Blog- DeeScribe
Book Review and 10 Reasons Why History is Exciting Soup Blog 

Wednesday 7 March
Australian Story – Teaching Notes – Key Stage I Sheryl Gwyther’s Blog
Book Review and Teaching Notes Ideas – Key Stage II The Book Chook
Book Review Kids’ Book Capers
Image-Sourcing for Australian Story Blue Dingo 

Thursday 8 March
Book Review Reading Upside Down
Book Review Pass It On
Book Review Bug in a Book 

Friday 9 March
Book Giveaway HerCanberra
The Writing Process for Australian Story Sally Murphy’s Blog
Book Review Books for Little Hands
Book Review ReadPlus 

Saturday 10 March
Book Review Kids Book Review 
Book Give-away Posie Patchwork Blog
Book Review Suite 101 

Sunday 11 March
Book Review My Little Bookcase
Book Give-away Australian Women Online
Blog Tour Wrap-Up Tania McCartney’s Blog



13 thoughts on “AUSTRALIAN STORY An Illustrated Timeline – blog tour

  1. I really love the ‘human timeline’ class activity. What a great way for them to consolidate all of the information they absorb through reading Australian Story.


  2. Sheryl thanks for letting us know about this fantastic resource. I’ve ordered my copies and can’t wait for them to arrive, this is going to be a valuable resource to help support the Australian History Curriculum. Thank you Tanya for giving us the teaching notes and such a beautiful book that the students will definately engage with. It will be great to explore our history through the collection of primary sources of the NLA.


  3. Hi all!

    Karen – I so hope teachers and librarians frequently use this book – it is a great resource and one I’m immensely proud of. Thank you for your lovely comments.

    Sally – would be honoured to have Aus Story on your shelf.

    Doug – xxx (was going to put four Xs but didn’t that was appropriate on a children’s website!)

    Shez – well, you know I’m batty over you.


  4. Doug, lovely to hear from you! I love those flying foxes too, like I love all of Lin Onus’s work. Lost too soon, he was!
    And All Hail to your disobedient blog too. 🙂


  5. I remember marvelling at those bats. I love the NSW art gallery. The cafe has one of the best views in Australia.
    Good luck with the book, and thanks for your kind comments on my disobedient blog.


  6. Congratulations Sheryl on your awesome intro & hosting Tania’s fabulous new book.

    Tania, I love your easy to follow timeline approach to history with ‘Australian Story’.
    Kids, teachers and librarians are going to LOVE these practical Teacher notes too.

    Can’t wait to read it.
    Karen T:)


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