Year 5 Gold Rush Webquest


Welcome to your internet webquest grade five's! Your task is to study the Australian Gold Rush.

During this investigation you will examine three different aspects of the Gold Rush:

  • School in the 1850's
  • Events of the 1850's
  • The life of a gold digger




Task 1: Events of the 1850's

Your first task is to use the internet to research about the time of the gold rush. Here are some ideas to help you get started on what to look for:

  • Who was the first person to discover gold in Australia?
  • Where was gold discovered first?
  • What impact did the gold rush have on Australia?
  • Who went to the gold rush?

Once you have done some research about the time of the 1850's, you need to create a timeline. If you are unsure of what a timeline is, click on this link.

Using the information you already know, together with the information on the following websites you will need to create a timeline. The timeline needs to include 6 significant events that occured in Australian Gold Rush history. Use all six event boxes to complete the task. When you have finished your timeline you need to copy the image into a pages document on your iPad and save it, (to copy right click and press copy image).

Create a timeline

Task 2: School in the 1850's

Going to school for children at the time of the Gold Rush was very different as you can imagine! Girls and boys were not treated the same at school. At the start of the Gold Rush around 1851 there were not many children on the goldfields, if there were children they would be working very hard. A couple of years later, more men started to bring their wives and chldren to the goldfields. Schools started to be set up in tents so that children could learn.

Here are a few links you need to have a look at:

Sovereign Hill: School in the 1850's

Life on the Goldfields 

Your task is to demonstrate the differences between school in the 1850's and today using an app on your iPad. Once you have finished you will copy and paste it or take a screen shot and add it to your document on pages. Apps you might use include Popplet, Explain Everything etc.


Task 3: The life of a gold digger

The life of a person on the goldfield was hard working and often not very rewarding. Many men rushed to Ballarat in the 1850's in hope of finding gold. It was not cheap to work on the goldfields, in fact it was quite expensive. You needed to buy tools, food, shelter and a gold mining license. Some men also brought their families to the goldfields so this would be extra costs for them.

Here is the link to a Gold Rush Game. In this game you find supplies and mine for gold. You can allow yourself 15 minutes to play this game. Sometimes you might run out of money, supplies or even die. You can play as many times as you like in the 15 minutes you've been given in order to mine as much gold as you can.

Now look at the following websites which focus on the conditions people would have lived and worked in on the goldfields. Take notes on your jotter from the information you find on the websites below. You will need to have at least three paragraphs of information that you can put into your own words. Remember you are NOT to copy information word for word from the websites. You may also like to find websites of your own about what it was like to be on the goldfields, using Google.

Sovereign Hill Gold Rush research 

Australian Government website about the Gold Rush

Life on the goldfields

The State Library of Victoria has acquired a diary of a digger in Ballarat in 1855. It is incredible. The author is believed to be a Scotsman and records daily life in meticulous detail. Sovereign Hill’s Barry Kay has recorded some excerpts.  Reproduced with kind permission of the State Library of Victoria.

After you have completed your research and taken notes you need to click on the link below which directs you to the Sovereign Hill website, this audio page features all the diary entries being read aloud to you. It is not neccessary for you to listen to all the diary entries. Click on the date to play an mp3 file and pick two or three to listen to.

Sovereign Hill website with diaries recorded

Finally to complete task 3, I would like you to put yourself in the shoes of someone who would have been there and write a diary entry using the knowledge you have about the gold rush. You can write this diary entry in the same document you have created on Pages.

Here are some suggestions if you are a bit stuck....

  • A woman who has come from England with her husband and three children
  • A poor man who desperately wants to find gold so he can eat
  • A person who gets caught because they did not have a gold license
  • Someone who strikes rich!

If you are unsure about how to write a diary entry click on this link for an example.

Camp Task: 1850's Gold Rush letters to Sovereign Hill

You should be completing the following task during writing sessions. In your letter you should include information and knowledge you gain from completing your webquest activities.

When attending Sovereign Hill camp, you will be attend one of four costumed schools, Red Hill National, St Peter's, St Alipius' and Ragged. When visiting you will spend two days studying and playing as 1850s goldfields children.

To maximise the costumed school experience, you must each write an imaginative letter based on answers to the questions below. You may include additional information relevant to the 1850s Ballarat theme as well!

Students in 5A will attend Red Hill National School

Students in 5B will attend Ragged School

Students in 5C will attend St Peter's Denominational School


Red Hill National

This school represents the education provided under the auspices of the National Education Board. Students received a broad general education, but the schools owed no allegiance to any church.


St Peter’s Denominational School

The Church of England was the official denomination of 19th century Australia. St Peter’s School at Sovereign Hill represents the kind of education provided by the Denominational Board in Victoria.


Ragged School

This is charity education for very poor families. You might be an orphan through tragic circumstances. Describe these in your letter or story. Your father might have died or abandoned your family. Your writing should reflect the poverty faced by your family.


Your letter or story needs to include:

  • Your father’s name and occupation.
  • Your mother’s name and occupation.
  • Your name and age.
  • Your brothers’ and sisters’ names, ages and occupations, if applicable.
  • How did your family travel to the Colony of Victoria?
  • From which country did you come?
  • How did you travel from Melbourne or Geelong to Ballarat?
  • Why did your family come to Ballarat?
  • Describe your dwelling in Ballarat. (Tent in the early 1850s. Possibly a bark, slab/mud hut. Cottage in later 1850s/60s.)
  • Individual information of a personal nature that is appropriate.

Suggested Possible Occupations:

Females: Straw Bonnet-maker, Milliner, Dressmaker, Maid, Laundry Maid, Cook, Scullery Maid, Shopkeeper, Pastry-cook, Housewife.

Males: Miner, Blacksmith, Cobbler, Carriage Builder, Carpenter, Shopkeeper, Trooper, Bricklayer, Merchant, Tailor, Grocer, Butcher, Brewer, Wood-cutter, Shipwright, Publican, Plasterer, Fishmonger, Printer, Auctioneer, Draper, Mason,  Labourer.


This task is good preparation for the role-play style of teaching you will experience on our visit. You need to memorise your written piece so that you can answer questions confidently in an 1850s manner.

You need to use your real name and take care with spelling, grammar, punctuation and writing. Careful and pleasing presentation of work is also important. Your best handwriting is required!

These letters will be sent prior to your visit.

Please take a screenshot of your letter so you can upload it to your document on Pages. Otherwise you may like to type it out.

Well done! You have finished your tasks! You should now check what you need to do next on the Process page.


Hello Grade 5, this page is designed for you to keep track of what's expected from you. It has been broken down step by step, explaining exactly what you need to do.

Step 1: Open a new document on Pages. Rename (Your name) Gold Rush Webquest. This can also be the title.

Step 2: Follow the instructions set out in task 1. Copy and paste a copy of your timeline under the subheading Task 1: Timeline.

Step 3: Follow the instructions set out in task 2. Copy and paste a copy of your screenshot under the subheading Task 2: School in the 1850's vs school now.

Step 4: Follow the instructions set out in task 3. Write a diary entry under the subheading Task 3: Diary entry.

Step 5: Insert a screenshot or type out your letter to Sovereign Hill under the subheading Task 4: Letter to Sovereign Hill.

Step 6: Take a screenshot of the rubric on the Evaluation page. Use the Explain Everything app to show what grade you have given yourself in each criteria. Take another screen shot. Copy and paste a copy at the bottom of your document under the subheading Rubric: Self Assessment.

Step 7: Under the screenshot of your rubric create the subheading Comments: Under this heading write a comment about something new you have learnt about the gold rush or something you enjoyed learning more about. Finally write yourself two medals and a mission.

Step 8: Save your finished document as a Word document and send via WebDAV to the folder marked WebQuests in the History folder.

Step 9: Notify your teacher.

Step 10: Congratulate yourself for completing your webquest! Well done!