Who is Dorothea Mackellar?

Student activity
Task No. 1

Who is Dorothea Mackellar?

Glass plate negatives of Sydney Harbour from the Holtermann residence, St. Leonards, 1870-1875
Glass plate negatives of Sydney Harbour from the Holtermann residence, St. Leonards, 1870-1875
Vineyard, Castle Hill
Picnic at Mrs Macquarie's Chair
Sydney Harbour, 1900
Photograph album of the employees and inhabitants of the Coolangatta Estate, Shoalhaven River, N.S.W.
Sydney street life, harbour and beach scenes, domestic animals, ca. 1880s-1900
Civil Ambulance & Transport Brigade of New South Wales

Before beginning the unit, create a topic wall in the classroom where information can be placed and viewed by all students.

You will be learning about an iconic Australian author and the following activities will culminate in you writing your own poem in the likeness of that poet’s work.


Think Pair Share

  • THINK of any Australian poets you may know.
  • PAIR with a partner and discuss what poets you have come up with.
  • SHARE with the class the Australian poets you have recalled.

Your teacher will introduce Dorothea Mackellar as an iconic Australian poet.
Read through the story of Dorothea’s history, click here.
Display a picture of her from the Collection Items here
What do you think of as soon as you see the picture. Discuss the era Dorothea Mackellar was alive during (1885-1968), think about topics such as housing, clothing, transport, landscape.
Using Collection Items, look at photos and paintings depicting scenes from that era. Analyse the images.  Then look at photos regarding housing, clothing, food catalogues from today.

Get into groups of 4 and each group takes an A3 piece of paper folded in half with Similarities written on one half and Differences on the other. Brainstorm similarities and differences between the period Dorothea Mackellar was alive and the period you are living in now.  Once finished, place the sheets on the topic wall.


  • What do the paintings tell you about life at that time?
  • What period would you prefer to live in? Why?
  • What things have changed? Has it made life easier or harder?