In 1770 Joseph Banks and Daniel Solander, employed in the study of natural history, collected and recorded observations of thousands of Australia’s unique and diverse plants and animals. On their return to Britain their vast collections made them celebrities. Yet soon after British arrival the environment changed. Landscapes that had been carefully managed through the practices of caring for Country had been replaced with degraded and depleted environments from European farming practices and the misuse of natural resources. 

Key inquiry question: 

How is an understanding of environmental change enhanced by viewing responses by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples? 
1. Observe the contemporary artwork Where The Wild Flowers Once Grew by Gordon Syron. Identify the people in the image and examine the symbolism that represents their presence in the environment. Explain using evidence from the artwork the relationship Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples had with the land from the Aboriginal point of view. 

2. Observe the artwork Zagan Gud Aladhi (Star Constellation) by Billy John McFarlane Missi. Describe the connection between the stars, seasons, breeding and the sustainable lifestyles Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples practised. Explain using evidence from the artwork traditional knowledge of environmental management and protection.

3. Investigate the eel farm of Lake Condah, the home of the Gunditjmara people. Read the blog An Australian Stonehenge to explain the significance of the sustainable aquaculture practised at Lake Condah as a site of world heritage. 

4. Engage with Bruce Pascoe and his research into Aboriginal agriculture and technologies in his book Dark Emu. Access online material in the ABC Digibook Bruce Pascoe: Aboriginal agriculture, technology and ingenuity. Summarise his findings.

5. Write an extended response that examines the deep knowledge and connections to the land that underpin Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander environmental management and protection. Use evidence from the resources to help construct your argument.

6. Observe the many ghost net artworks in the museum Collections. Conduct research into ghost nets at Ghost Nets by Kate Pentecost and the devastation discarded fishing nets bring to marine environments. 

7. Learn more about ghost nets and how you can become part of influencing a sea change at Ghost Nets Australia.

8. How would things have unfolded then and how would they unfold differently now if we were better listeners. Write a letter to James Cook explaining Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander connections with the land and how they practise caring for country. How do you think he would have responded?

Main image: 'Joey' - ghost net sculpture © Nancy Naawi, reproduced courtesy of the artist, ANMM Collection 00055249