Strangers on the Shore



Monday to Friday during term

Sessions: 10am, 11am, 12pm, 1pm, 2pm

Year Level
Year 5
120 Minutes

$240 per session (maximum 32 students)


Relive the experience of the Swan River Colony's first European settlers.

Learn about the challenges that new colonial arrivals faced, during and after their journey to the Swan River. Consider survival, priorities, and planning. Students re-enact experiences on the ship as they make their way to their new home, and then build a makeshift shelter on the shores of Garden Island when they first arrive. Reflect on the impact their arrival had on the local environment and the Aboriginal peoples who have lived here for tens of thousands of years.

This program assists teachers of year 5 students with the following HASS focus questions:

  • Why did the British establish the Swan River Colony? (ACHASSK106)
  • Where did the colonists settle and what impact did this have on the different inhabitants and the environment? (ACHASSK107)
  • What were the lives of different settlers like in terms of clothing, diet, leisure, housing and children’s lives? (ACHASSK107)
  • What enterprising responses were made to some of the challenges experienced by the early settlers? (ACHASSK107)

This program aligns perfectly with the Museum publication I Hope It's Pretty There, which details the story of a family on the Parmelia as they journey to the Swan River Colony. This illustrated historical fiction comes with a comprehensive learning resource for classroom use.

Visit I Hope It’s Pretty There Learning Resource for more information about the book and accompanying resource.


At the Museum

What your class will experience

Students participating in this two part program will:

Part A: Facilitated Activity (Education Activity Room, adjacent to the WA Shipwrecks Museum)

  • Consider the reasons the British established a colony in Western Australia.
  • Role-play the new settler’s journey on a ship from England to the new Swan River Colony, looking at the journey from the perspective of several different people, including children
  • Consider the need for shelter and build a mock tent as part of a simulated ‘new arrival’ experience.
  • Examine some clothing, objects, entertainment and food available to early colonial settlers and discuss how resourcefulness was the key to meeting some of these needs.

Part B: Self-Guided Precinct & Museum Exploration (outside the WA Shipwrecks Museum, Bathers Beach & Cliff Street):

  • Visit the WA Shipwrecks Museum and reflect on the significance of the site and its changes over time.
  • Explore the area around Bathers Beach (called Manjaree by the Whadjuk Nyoongar people), the approximate site of the first mainland arrival of English colonial settlers.
  • Reflect on the impact of European arrival on the traditional way of life of Whadjuk Nyoongar people.
  • Consider the changes that have occurred in the Harbour and the surrounding landscape.
  • Visit the Whaling Tunnel under the Round House (more time is required and additional charges apply to enter the Round House, see below).
  • Download the trail and print one per group leader.

Download the Strangers on the Shore Self-Guided Museum Exploration [PDF 930KB]

Part C (Optional): Self-Guided Shipwreck Games with food & drink break (outside the WA Shipwrecks Museum on the grass):

  • Borrow a kit of Shipwreck Games (physical activities) to play on the grass outside the Museum.
  • Rules and guidelines are provided in the kits, although parents and students can make up their own versions of the games.
  • Groups are responsible for packing up the games ready for the next group.
  • Before or after playing the games, students can have a morning tea or lunch break.
  • In wet weather, Part C will not proceed as games cannot be played inside the Museum. If this is the case the class will spend additional time on Part B.


Booking instructions

Step 1 – Creating your Class Rotation

  • Before you book, it is important that you create a proposed rotation for your visit so that you are clear on what time your class is participating in the activity (Part A: Facilitated) and what time the class is visiting the galleries (Part B: Self Guided). This is even more important when you are booking for more than one class.
  • We can accommodate up to 5 facilitated (Part A) sessions per day, with available time-slots of 10am, 11am, 12pm, 1pm and 2pm during term time. Each session needs to be booked separately.
  • A maximum of 32 students (a class) is allowed per facilitated (Part A) session.
  • Up to two classes can be in the galleries at the same time for the self-guided (Part B) session.
  • If you are bringing more than two classes we can help create a rotation involving the optional self-guided games (Part C). You can print out and use the following timetable if you wish.

WA Shipwrecks Museum Education Program 3 Group Rotation Timetable [PDF 127KB]

Step 2 – Making a booking

Please send an email to with the following details and we will begin to process your booking.

  1. Program choice: Immigration Stories, Shipwrecked!, de Vlamingh's Journey or Strangers on the Shore
  2. Preferred visit dates and session times
  3. Number of classes & student numbers in each class
  4. Number of attending adults per class
  5. Contact Teacher name, email and mobile number
  6. School

Step 3 – Planning Your Visit

  • Don’t forget to read the Planning Your Visit section so you are prepared for your visit to the Museum.
  • If you are booking for more than one class please share this page with your fellow class teachers.

Please email or call us on 1300 134 081 to discuss other booking options if the above is not suitable.

Booking Conditions

  • We may need refuse entry if we are already at capacity at your selected Museum and you haven't pre-booked.
  • A minimum supervisor ratio of 1 adult to 10 students is required, however a ratio of 1 to 6 is preferred for this activity.
  • Bookings need to be made 14 days before the date of your visit.
  • Changes to dates and times are subject to availability.
  • Refunds are not available if you cancel your booking within 14 days of your visit.


Curriculum links

Programs and exhibitions at the WA Museum support teachers in their delivery of the WA Curriculum to their students. Strangers on the Shore has been developed with reference to the following content description(s) from the Year 5 Western Australian Curriculum:

Humanities and Social Sciences (HASS)

  • Knowledge and understanding
    History: The Australian Colonies

    The economic, political and social reasons for establishing British colonies in Australia after 1800 (e.g. the establishment of penal colonies) (ACHASSK106)

    The patterns of colonial development and settlement (e.g. geographical features, climate, water resources, transport, discovery of gold) and how this impacted upon the environment (e.g. introduced species) and the daily lives of the different inhabitants (e.g. convicts, free settlers, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples) (ACHASSK107)

    The economic, social and political impact of one significant development or event on a colony and the potential outcomes created by 'what if…?' scenarios (e.g. frontier conflict; the gold rushes; the Eureka Stockade; the Pinjarra Massacre; the advent of rail; the expansion of farming; drought) (ACHASSK107)

    The contribution or significance of one individual or group in shaping the Swan River Colony, including their motivations and actions (e.g. groups such as explorers, farmers, pastoralists, convicts or individuals such as James Stirling, John Septimus Roe, Thomas Peel) (ACHASSK110)

  • Skills
    Questioning and Researching, Analysing, Evaluating, Communicating and Reflecting



Strangers on the Shore is a 2-hour package that consists of the following two components:

  • Part A: Facilitated Activity – 50 minutes (approx.)
  • Part B: Self-guided Precinct Walking Trail – 50 minutes (approx.)

Both components start on the hour with allowance for changeover.


Planning your visit

Specific to this program

  • Before arriving at the Museum please have students already organised into groups of 4-7 students, each with an adult helper, for the Part B: Self-Guided Precinct Walking Trail component of this program. Having your students already organised into groups will give them more time to enjoy exploring the precinct, rather than spending time splitting into groups. If you do not have enough adult helpers, larger groups will need to be arranged as all groups require supervision in the Museum.  The minimum supervisor ratio is 1 adult to 10 students, however a ratio of 1 to 6 is preferred for this activity.
  • Part B: Self-Guided Precinct & Museum Exploration takes place outside. Please ensure your students are dressed appropriately for the weather conditions on that day. If weather conditions do not permit outdoor exploration, please use the inside portion of the self-guided trail and then spend additional time exploring the Museum.
  • Please have the trail printed before you arrive and give a copy to your group leaders in advance so they are familiar with the content. 
  • Students will NOT require any pencils/paper or clipboards unless you specifically wish them to record their work for later use.
  • Part A: Facilitated Activity starts promptly at your booked session time. Please assemble your class in the courtyard between the WA Shipwrecks Museum and the Education Activity Room. In the event of rain, please assemble in the foyer of the Museum where you will be collected. If you are starting the program with Part B: Self-guided Precinct Walking Trail, you may take your students to to the front lawn of the Museum to commence this part on arrival.

General to WA Shipwrecks Museum


Shipwrecks Teacher Familiarisation Sessions

Sign up to our education newsletter to be notified of the next WA Shipwrecks Museum teacher familiarisation session.


Education resources

Visit Strangers on the Shore Education Resources for suggested Fremantle excursion extensions and classroom activities to explore the topic of the Australian colonies.