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Week 32: Planning the Economy

[ View the related 'Weekly Post': Week 32 - Visions of the future ]

A number of references have been made to finances and money. Last week we read of The Africaine making a stop in Cape Town, South Africa. Sailing from Europe to Australia in the 1830s, captains tried to avoid calling into ports as these stops cost time and money was spent on port charges and supplies. Some of the currencies mentioned to date in our blogs include the English pound and Spanish dollar. Money and finances played a big part in the establishment of South Australia and its economy. This week we look at trade, examining how exchanges were made and start to learn about the first industries in South Australia.
Person: George Fife Angus

The Honourable George Fife Angus, c. 1920-1935. Courtesy of the Art Gallery of South Australia [0.59'9

Inquiry Questions:

  • How were goods and services traded in 1836?
  • What form of currency was used in England in 1836?
  • What were the first industries established in South Australia?
  • How did these industries affect the state’s economy and people?

Research Topics:

  • What are the major industries in South Australia today?
  • What exchange system was used by indigenous Australians prior to 1836?
  • What forms of currency are used in Commonwealth countries today?
  • What affects the value of a country’s currency?
  • How is the wealth of a country determined?

Historical Skills:

Chronology, terms and concepts:•    Explore the following English monetary values in 1836: farthing, half penny, penny, sixpence, shilling, half crown, crown, half sovereign and pound. Order these according to value.
•    What symbols are used to differentiate between currencies today?
Historical questions and research:

•    It was in 1833 when the bank note became legal tender in England. At this time a bank note was a promissory note that could be exchanged for the equivalent amount in gold coins. Identify the benefits of using notes over gold coins. What did the first bank note look like? 
•    Stephens recommends that a Bay Whale Fishery is established to oversee the fishing industry in South Australia. Whaling was South Australia’s first major industry. Many early migrants thought they would make their wealth from this industry. Research the history of whaling in South Australia to find out why it never became a lucrative industry.

Analysing and using sources:•    Today there are only around 300 holey dollars and around 1000 dumps still in existence. Imagine how much they are worth!Use the internet or the library to research the value of these today.
•    Research coin collecting – what are some of the different reasons people collect coins?
Perceptions and interpretations:•    Why do Commonwealth countries use different currencies?
•    Examine the currencies used in Commonwealth countries and use an online exchange calculator to compare the values of different currencies. When would you use a currency converter and what information can be gained from this process?
•    The process of making exchanges for goods and services has changed greatly in the past 200 years. Many transactions are now completed online or using credit cards. Will we still need coins and notes in the future? If so, what do you think will they look like? Draw an image and include a statement to support your idea.
Explanation and communication:• Explore the Royal Australian Mint website to learn about the history of currency in Australia.  Create a display showing what Australian currency has looked like over time.


Activity Suggestions:

  1. Trade, import and export are all important for the economy of South Australia. Find out how the economy affects you and your family. Visit the South Australian Maritime Museum and participate in the Move It, Move It program to learn about South Australia's import and export industries, now and in the past.
  2. Research one of South Australia’s first industries, whaling, agricultural, mining or the railways. Cast your mind back to the 19thcentaury and imagine you are working in this industry. Write a letter that could have been sent to relatives in England, describing your experiences and work undertaken. Create a model to show the environment in which this industry took place.
  3. This week Samuel Stephens writes about establishing an “Agricultural Establishment at Yankalilla.” Why do you think this was the location he chose and did his plan eventuate? Locate Yankalilla on a map of South Australia and find out what the town offers today. Develop a tri-fold brochure that promotes the town and entices visitors or new residents to the region.
  4. Identify the person from this blog that you think has played the most significant role in establishing the Colony of South Australia to date. Select 5 items that best represent this person and create a ‘personality suitcase’ for them. You might like to include an item that this person may have if they were alive today. Share your ‘suitcase’ with others and give reasons for your object choices.
  5. Pounds, shillings and pence were the basis of Australian currency until the introduction of the decimal system in 1966. The Australian government created a Dollar Bill Decimal Currency jingle to educate the Australian population about the changes. We often remember jingles and catchy tunes, and they are a popular way to educate and persuade people. List some of the jingles your class has heard on the television / radio. Identify what it is that makes these jingles memorable. Can you create your own jingle for an item or activity that you are passionate about? Record this and share it with the class. Ask for feedback as to whether it captured the attention of your peers.
  6. Develop a timeline to show the history of currency in Australia. What were the major milestones and why were changes made?

What if?

What would South Australia be like today if the state’s economy had collapsed in the early years of settlement and everyone returned to England?

What do you think?

The Australian government is currently looking at removing the 5 cent coin from circulation. Find out why this proposal has been put forward and give your opinion on this.

Stay Tuned

Next week we learn more about Colonel William Light’s surveying of South Australia’s coast. He writes about his frustration in finding a safe harbour, but also highlights the appeal of the Adelaide Plains. As more of our vessels reach South Australia, there is a need to find a suitable site for the new colony to settle. Woodforde continues to search for fresh water and identifies the need for this. Stay tuned next week to learn about how South Australia’s natural resources were found and used in the new colony.

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