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What can a farm tell us about defining moments?

Visiting the Blackwood farm

Blackwood Farm is about 40 kilometres from Port Fairy. It was built in 1842 by James Sceales, but three years later it came into the possession of James Ritchie, and has remained in the Ritchie family for five generations.

In this investigation you will consider if the creation of farms such as Blackwood Farm and the development of farming in Australia are defining moments in Australian history.

Let's start by exploring Ham's Squatting Map of Victoria, Port Phillip District in 1851. The map shows how settlers started to own land in the early years of European occupation of western Victoria, including Port Fairy. Check out the map and answer some questions as you do this.

How to use

Task 1 - Ham's Squatting Map of Victoria

Explore ‘Ham's Squatting Map of Victoria’ by using your mouse to move around the map or to zoom in and out.

Click the ‘Show questions’ button to answer these questions. You can toggle the questions on and off to allow you to view the full map.

Once you have answered the questions click ‘Next’ to proceed to ‘Analysing Agriculture’.

Task 2 - Analysing Agriculture

Select each of the 7 photos to see your questions. Select 3 options for each question and submit to see if you are correct.

On completion you will see your score and be asked to undertake a final activity.

Certificate of Completion

Congratulations – you scored points!

You’ve also discovered that there are many defining moments in Australian History related to farming. Let’s check out the seven that you’ve just looked at below…

Which of these do you think had the most long lasting impact on Australia? List your top three here and give a reason for each one. Then share your ideas with your classmates and come up with a whole class top three defining moments for farming in Australia.

My three top farming defining moments





Download Answer Sheet PDF


Explore the map and answer these questions

Approximately how many squatting stations or farms can you detect? Squatting stations are represented by an open dot and number on the map e.g. 0 205. There were 33 in and around Melbourne.
Which of the following areas do you think was surveyed first?
Hint: Squatters need good grasslands and water supply.
What factors might determine which land was surveyed first?

An associated Defining Moment

You can see an example of this on the National Museum of Australia Defining Moments in Australian History website:

Analysing Agriculture

One of those many farms became known as Blackwood Farm. It’s about 40 kilometres from Port Fairy. It first belonged to James Sceales in 1842 when he occupied 10,000 acres, but three years later it came into the possession of James Ritchie who had arrived from Scotland in April 1841. Since then the property has remained in the Ritchie family for five generations.

This is what it looks like today.

Do you think the creation of farms such as Blackwood Farm is a defining moment in Australian history? And if you do, is it possible that other defining moments or important events might be connected to the development of farming in Australia? If so, what might these have been?

Analysing Agriculture

To explore these ideas further, there are 7 questions for you to consider.

They help to show the defining moments that might be associated with the creation of both small farms and larger properties in a new settlement.

Look at each, and decide which of the five possible consequences are likely to follow, and which are not.

There are three likely consequences and two unlikely ones in each case. You will get a point for each correct answer. There are 21 points available.

Get the top score to show your understanding of these defining moments, their influence on people and on the development of Australian agriculture.

Farming established

Your score: