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William Strutt, Bushrangers, Victoria, Australia 1852, 1887, oil on canvas, 73 x 154 cm. The University of Melbourne Art Collection. Gift of the Russell and Mab Grimwade Bequest 1973
J.W Lindt, Body of Joe Byrne, member of the Kelly Gang, hung up for photography, Benalla, c. 1910‑ 40, albumen silver photograph, 9.8 x 14.5 cm. The University of Melbourne Art Collection. Gift of the Russell and Mab Grimwade Bequest 1973
Secondary Education Resource: In-depth study on Australian Bushrangers
From The University of Melbourne’s Art Collection. Gift of the Russell and Mab Grimwade Bequest
In 19th century Australia, bushrangers played a significant part in early settler society and their daring and violent stories have influenced Australian law and folklore. Many bushrangers were ex-convicts or poor settlers that broke the law to survive and became outlaws by hiding in the bush to evade the authorities. They stole money, livestock and other valuables, holding up farms, travellers and robbing banks and stores. Bushrangers often met violent ends when captured and where either shot by police, jailed or sentenced to death by hanging for their crimes. Their stories have passed on into Australian legends and folklore as examples of wild boldness, rebellion and strength of the Australian people - but were bushrangers heroes or criminals?
This education resource presents an in-depth study of Australian bushrangers that has been designed to address key concepts and skills of Secondary level AusVELS and VCE frameworks for Humanities and Social Sciences, Civics and Citizenship and Law. Selected artworks that communicate the stories of Victorian bushrangers from the University of Melbourne’s Art Collection are presented for student inquiry and contestability of historical events. Two specific events involving bushrangers in 19th century Victoria are presented for student investigation; the highway robbery committed on St. Kilda Road in 1852 and Ned Kelly and the Kelly Gang.
Suggested learning tasks include questions for collaborative discussions, annotation worksheets featuring quality reproductions of the artworks, short answer and extended response questions as well as accelerated learner questions. Also included are selected written sources, supporting narratives, further readings and references to support student analysis of Australian bushrangers. Teachers are encouraged to select and adapt the material in the resource to suit the specific learning requirements of their students.