In this unit, students will experience the landscape on Gunditjmara Country through Kayap Kiling: The First Waterholes. They will learn about native bird species through research and field trips, and demonstrate their understanding and learning through art. The unit aims to foster a connection with nature while instilling a sense of responsibility for protecting endangered birdlife and their habitats.


At the heart of Jajoo Warrngara are the communities that lead the work on Country. We would like to acknowledge the Gunditjmara Elders and Custodians who proudly shared this story, and pay our respects to the Elders past and present. SharingStories thanks Gundtijmara Traditional Custodians and Elders Uncle Daryl Rose, Troy Lovett and Jenna Bamblett for sharing these cultural knowledges.


First-person Cultural knowledge has been generously shared by Gunditjmara Traditional Custodians and Elders Uncle Daryl Rose, Troy Lovett and Jenna Bamblett to produce tailored Classroom Protocols. The Protocols will guide educators to share the stories and cultural knowledges in the most appropriate way, supporting the cultural safety of both educators and students while sharing the story Kayap Kiling: The First Waterholes in classrooms. It is strongly recommended that the Gunditjmara Classroom Protocols are read prior to teaching this unit.


Essential Questions 

  • How do First Nations Creation stories highlight the significance of the environment or Country?
  • In what ways does the Kayap Kiling: The First Waterholes story exemplify the importance of water in Gunditjmara Country and its impact on native wildlife, including the birds in the story?
  • What methods can be utilised to identify and learn about native bird species, and how does this contribute to our understanding of the ecosystem?
  • How do the observable characteristics, behaviours, and habitats of birds offer insights into the broader relationships between people, wildlife, and the environment?
  • How might a connection to Country and artistic expression, such as nature walks and bird sketching, contribute to a heightened sense of responsibility and care for the protection of native wildlife?
Links to Resources

Cultural Protocols

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Teacher Resources

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Birds on Mirring (Country) Lesson 1

  • Form a yarning circle to discuss the story. Some questions to support your discussion could include: 
    • What were your initial thoughts and feelings about the story?
    • Which characters or animals stood out to you in the story and why?
    • How does the story emphasise the importance of water in Gunditjmara Country?
    • Is there any cultural significance to who is permitted to tell certain Creation stories? 
    • How do the waterholes come into existence in the story, and what role do Crane and Magpie play in their creation?
    • What significance does Turkey hold in the story, being the one who knows the secret to water? 
    • In what ways do the actions of Magpie and Crane demonstrate a commitment to caring for the environment and preserving water sources?
    • How does the story depict the impact of drought on Gunditjmara Country and its inhabitants?
    • Can you identify and list the Gunditjmara Language words used in the story?
    • Do you know what the First Nations Language is in your local area? If possible, explore whether you can find these words in the local language. Who might be able to help you?

NB Cultural Note on First Nations Language Sensitivity

In Australia, there are over 250 First Nations languages, and over 600 known dialects, each unique to a specific place and people, contributing to our distinct identity. These languages hold cultural knowledge and heritage, providing a profound sense of belonging to many First Nations peoples. Unfortunately, historical government policies disrupted these languages, severing generational links. Today, Elders' memories and historical records play a vital role in recovering and revitalising dormant languages for future generations. When engaging with local Custodians to learn about First Nations Languages, it is crucial to be mindful of this history and respect cultural sensitivity in conversations. For more information, engage with your local language centres, First Nations Health Care Centers, and local Aboriginal Corporations to connect  with the Traditional Custodians. We also recommend visiting informative websites such as AIATSIS Laguages Alive

  • Create a mindmap on the board, brainstorm important insights, highlight characters, and write key points to foster collective understanding.
  • Distribute a KWL chart to the students to begin exploring their knowledge of native birds.


  • Students are to complete the first two columns of the KWL Chart based on reflections and discussions about the birds featured in the story. Consider the characteristics, habitat, and behaviours of the birds in these reflections. 
  • Students write down what they want to know and what they already know.
  • This chart will serve as a foundation for further exploration throughout the unit. The chart will be revisited and built upon to deepen student understanding of native birds.



  • Students present their KWL chart to the group, discussing the information they already know about the topic and what they hope to discover.
Mark as complete

Birds on Mirring (Country) Lesson 2

  • Following on from the last lesson, students independently select a bird species of interest and conduct online research to explore a variety of native birds. 
  • Distribute the bird identification worksheet. https://jajoowarrngara.org/documents/bird-identification-chart
  • This tool will assist students in identifying and observing different bird species in their natural habitats for an upcoming excursion. In this lesson, students utilise the worksheet to record their research findings and collect data in preparation for their field trip. 


  • Students will complete the bird identification chart by researching a selected native bird online. The chart can be downloaded from our resources on Jajoo Warrngara, or if preferred, it can be handwritten using these subheadings 
  • Species Name: The formal scientific and common names of the bird species.
  • Description: Physical characteristics or features that help identify the bird, such as coloration, size, markings, and distinctive features.
  • Habitat: The types of environments where the bird is commonly found, such as forests, wetlands, grasslands, etc.
  • Range/Distribution: The geographic areas where the bird species is commonly found during specific seasons.
  • Behaviour: Behaviours unique to the species, such as feeding habits, nesting behaviours, and vocalisations.
  • Diet: The primary food sources for the bird species.
  • Conservation Status: The current conservation status of the species, indicating whether it is of least concern, near-threatened, endangered, etc.
  • Nesting: Information about the bird's nesting habits, including nest type, location, and breeding season.
  • Migration Patterns: If applicable, details about the bird's migration routes, timing, and distances covered.
  • Similar Species: A list of other bird species that may be easily confused with the one being identified, with notes on key differences.
  • Interesting Facts: Notable or unique facts about the bird species that could be of interest to observers. 
  • Cultural Significance: Is there any cultural significance of your chosen bird for the local First Nations peoples?


  • Students share interesting facts from their research and predict which bird species they may discover on their upcoming field trip based on the habitat. 
Mark as complete

Birds on Mirring (Country) Lesson 3

  • Embark on a bird watching adventure! Head outdoors, whether on the oval or in a local park, for a nature walk. Consider reaching out to local Custodians to gain insights into culturally significant locations and find out if you need permissions to explore these culturally significant places. This may provide an opportunity to learn of the Dreaming stories that highlight the cultural importance of the birds in the area.
  • Upon arriving at the chosen location, gather in a yarning circle before beginning the bird watching expedition. Take a moment to Acknowledge the Country you are on and set intentions for the day. Establishing such an agreement is not only grounding for young participants but also reflects a profound respect for Country and its Traditional Custodians.
  • TIP: Explore the junior ranger programs or similar initiatives that may be available on Country with First Nations groups. Many of these programs include Bird Identification and conservation efforts, presenting a valuable opportunity for community partnership involving your class group or school. 



  • During the excursion, students will actively participate in the walk, exploring and discovering the birdlife in the chosen location. 
  • Each student selects a bird they spot during the journey, noting down its details on the bird identification chart provided.


  • Discuss any interesting findings in a yarning circle at the end of the excursion. Can you find the language word for the bird you chose? How might you find this out? 
  • Did any of the birds travel as a flock?
  • Noting the shapes of beaks do you think they eat berries or other creatures like worms? What makes you think that?
  • Reflect on the colours of the birds, do you think they might indicate the bird's gender? Share the reasoning behind your response.
Mark as complete

Birds on Mirring (Country) Lesson 4

  • Following on from the last lesson, discuss the birds that were discovered in the area. Talk about the bird's characteristics, habitat and behaviours. 
  • Introduce  films, books and magazines containing information about birds to familiarise students with bird imagery in preparation for the art element of the unit. 
  • Yarn about these resources in class and encourage students to research various bird paintings and drawings as part of their individual research. 



  • Students are then to choose a bird from either their own findings on the excursion or from a film, book or magazine and create a sketch. They are to colour the bird's features, paying attention to details like feathers, beaks, and claws. Encourage students to focus on proportion and accuracy. 
  • There are various bird drawing tutorials online, however here is one website which has some helpful tips. https://johnmuirlaws.com/drawing-birds/ 



  • How did exploring the characteristics, habitat, and behaviours of birds contribute to your understanding of Country? How did this knowledge influence your approach to sketching and colouring your chosen bird? 
Mark as complete

Birds on Mirring (Country) Lesson 5

  • In this lesson, the focus shifts to endangered, threatened or vulnerable bird species, with a particular emphasis on those in your local area. An exemplary case along the east coast of Australia is the Glossy Black Cockatoo. Many seabirds are threatened around the areas Kayap Kiling: The First Waterholes story takes place.
  • Students are to investigate the reasons why these birds are endangered and explore ways to actively participate in supporting their conservation efforts.. 
  • Additionally, students explore various wildlife conservation movements that have aimed to protect native animal species under threat, considering how human efforts contribute to restoration initiatives.



  • It's time for action! Students are tasked with discovering how they can personally contribute to  conservation movements in their local area. Consider both individual and group actions, brainstorming ways to protect wildlife. 
  • Some suggested ways students could get involved are as follows:


  • Habitat Restoration Projects:
    • Collaborate with local environmental groups or government agencies involved in habitat restoration projects.These could include local Aboriginal ranger groups. 
    • Participate in tree planting activities to enhance natural habitats for birds and other wildlife.
  • Community Awareness Campaigns:
    • Develop and implement campaigns to raise awareness about the importance of wildlife conservation.
    • Create informative posters, brochures, or digital content to share with the school and wider community.
  • Nest Box Installation:
    • Work with local experts to install nest boxes in suitable locations for native birds.
    • Monitor and maintain the nest boxes to ensure their effectiveness.



  • Reflect on the potential impact of your proposed actions and discuss the importance of individual and collective efforts in safeguarding endangered bird species and promoting overall wildlife conservation. 
  • To stay updated on the conservation status of birds in Gunditjmara Country or any region, it is recommended to check with authoritative sources such as the Australian Government Species Profile and Threats Data Base https://www.environment.gov.au/cgi-bin/sprat/public/publicreports.pl?proc=species or other relevant government conservation agencies and local wildlife organisations in Australia.
Mark as complete



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