Biography Planner

Student activities

Task no. 1

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Biography Planner

Examine Sources 1 to 5 on the life of David Unaipon, using the Biography Planner and additional sources to conduct research on the life of David Unaipon.

What do sources tell us about the contribution of David Unaipon to the development of Australia as a nation? How do we know?

About the Sources:

Source 1: Photograph of David Unaipon, late 1920s.

Source 2: Preface to Legendary Tales of the Australian Aborigines by David Unaipon. They were commissioned and published in London in 1930 by William Ramsey Smith without naming Unaipon as the author.

Source 3: Memo to David Unaipon regarding funding for the development of prototypes based on his patent, 1914.

Source 4: David Unaipon's 1914 sketches for Herbert Basedow of the 1909 patent of his shearing machine.

Source 5 : Excerpt from letter by David Unaipon to Herbert Basedow requesting funds to develop his patent. 

Transcript for Sources 6 - 8:

21 April 1914

Dr H Basedow
City Chamber

I am an Australian aboriginal belong[ing] to the lower Murray on Lake Alexandria know[n] as the Narrringeri tribe; Born on the Point McLeay Mission Station.....I was educated under the teaching of Mr W Hutley. I remember well some of the lessons he gave: This in particular, we are living in a wonderful age in which the world has made a wonderful progress: in Commerce Science and Art what wonderful discoveries and inventions.
But he went on to say there are three things that have baffled science up to the present. The Elixir of Life, The Philosopher's Stone and Perpetual Motion. He told us about the many attempts made to bring about perpetual motion but have failed. That has made a great impression on my mind [and] gave me an ambition to rise: I have experimented with gravit[at]ion to try and bring about perpetual motion with the result I invented the lateral motion applied to [my] sheep shearing machine.....