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Significant people - Governor Macquarie

Through an examination of the life of Governor Macquarie, as a significant person in history, students learn about what life was like for different groups of people in the colonial period. They examine significant events and people, political and economic developments, social structures, and settlement patterns.
Key inquiry question #1: 
What do we know about the lives of people in Australia’s colonial past and how do we know?
Key inquiry question #2: 
What were the significant events and who were the significant people that shaped Australian colonies?

Content summary

The role that a significant individual or group played in shaping a colony; for example, explorers, farmers, entrepreneurs, artists, writers, humanitarians, religious and political leaders, and Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander peoples. (ACHHK097)

In this unit of work the term ‘Indigenous’ is used to refer to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Background Notes for teachers

In 2010 The State Library of NSW presented the exhibition The Governor: Lachlan Macquarie, 1810 to 1821 to commemorate the bicentenary of the beginning of Macquarie’s governorship of the colony. The exhibition featured extraordinary original items from the Library’s collection including Macquarie’s journals, maps, watercolours, an authentic portrait of the Governor, his travelling trunk and other personal items. Additional items were loaned by Historic Houses Trust of NSW and the Powerhouse Museum. The exhibition looked at exploration and expansion in the colony during the Macquarie era, which included a series of landmark tours by Macquarie and the establishment of many new settlements, including Liverpool and Port Macquarie.

Student Activities

NSW Syllabus for the Australian Curriculum History K-10

A student:

  • HT3-1 describes and explains the significance of people, groups, places and events to the development of Australia
  • HT3-2 describes and explains different experiences of people living in Australia over time
  • HT3-5 applies a variety of skills of historical inquiry and communication 


Comprehension: chronology, terms and concepts

  • ​use historical terms and concepts (ACHHS099, ACHHS118)

Analysis and use of sources

  • locate information related to inquiry questions in a range of sources (ACHHS102, ACHHS121)
  • compare information from a range of sources (ACHHS103, ACHHS122)

Perspectives and interpretations

  • identify points of view in the past and present (ACHHS104, ACHHS123)


  • identify and pose questions to inform an historical inquiry (ACHHS100, ACHHS119)
  • identify and locate a range of relevant sources to support an historical inquiry (ACHHS101, ACHHS120)

Explanation and communication

  • develop texts, particularly narratives and descriptions, which incorporate source materials (ACHHS105, ACHHS124)
  • use a range of communication forms (oral, graphic, written) and digital technologies(ACHHS106, ACHHS125)
  • Cause and effect: events, decisions or developments in the past that produce later actions results or effects
  • Significance: the importance of an event, development or individual/group

Learning across the curriculum

  • Literacy
  • Creative and critical thinking
  • Civics and citizenship