In this unit, students explore the cultural, environmental, and historical significance of trees. Drawing inspiration from the rich narratives of the  Wamba Wamba stories shared by Traditional Custodian, Uncle Ron Murray, students uncover the deep interconnections between nature and community. They research the critical roles trees play in maintaining biodiversity and carbon sequestration for a healthy environment as well as investigating the harmful effects of deforestation and its widespread repercussions. Students research global conservation movements, gaining insights into the pivotal role activism plays in preserving our natural world. Through collaborative group work and presentations, students explore their role in environmental and cultural stewardship.



At the heart of Jajoo Warrngara are the communities that lead the work on Country. We would like to acknowledge the Wamba Wamba Custodians who proudly shared this story, and pay our respects to the Elders past and present. SharingStories thanks Wamba Wamba Traditional Custodian Uncle Ron Murray for sharing this cultural knowledges.


First-person Cultural knowledge has been generously shared by Wamba Wamba Traditional Custodians and Elders, including Aunty Stephanie Charles, Uncle Ron Murrary and Sandra Kropinyeri in order to create tailored Classroom Protocols. The Protocols are designed to  guide educators to share the stories and cultural knowledges in the most appropriate way, thus supporting the cultural safety of both educators and students while sharing the story Muyi Mir and Pondi in classrooms. It is strongly recommended that educators read the Classroom Protocols prior to teaching this unit.


Essential Questions 

  • How do the stories of ancient landscapes, both within the Wamba Wamba community and globally, deepen our understanding of culture, nature, and conservation?
  • What roles do trees play in our environment, and why are they essential for biodiversity and carbon sequestration?
  • How can global conservation movements and environmental activism contribute to the preservation of our natural world, and what personal responsibilities  do we have in addressing broader environmental challenges?
  • What actionable steps can individuals and communities take to actively engage in environmental stewardship, including the preservation of trees and sacred sites?
Links to Resources

Cultural Protocols

View the teaching protocols for this unit.

Teacher Resources

View the teacher resource for this unit.


View the PDF for this unit.

Tree Huggers Lesson 1

  1. Among the characters in the story, which ones stood out to you in the story, and why?
  2. What did you notice about the landscape in the story? How does it differ from or resemble the landscape of your own location? 
  3. Why do you think lakes and bodies of water hold significance for First Nations Peoples? Why do they feature in many Dreaming, Creation or Contemporary First Nations stories? 
  4. How would you describe Nurrayil, the Wedge-Tail Eagle, based on his portrayal in this story?
  5. What was the primary conflict in the story, and how did the Wamba Wamba people try to resolve it?
  6. Do you think chopping down the giant red gum was the only solution? Why or why not?
  7. Critical Thinking Question: If you were present at the time of the conflict, what alternative solutions might you propose to deal with Nurrayil without resorting to cutting down all the trees? Reflect on the potential outcomes and consequences of your proposed solutions.


  • In pairs, explore the school grounds or a nearby park to identify various tree species. If the names of the trees are unknown, students can describe, illustrate, or photograph them in their notebooks, noting their unique features. The names can then be added later to the student workbooks.
  • Some headings for the chart could be as follows: 
  1. Tree Number or Code Name: Assign a number or code to each observed tree for easy reference.
  2. Location: Specify where the tree is located (e.g., school grounds, nearby park).
  3. Common Name: Record the common name of the tree if known (e.g. Murray Pine, Red Gum, IronBark) It does not matter if this is unknown. 
  4. Scientific/Latin Name: This may remain blank until research can be conducted
  5. Leaf Characteristics: Describe the characteristics of the leaves (e.g. shape, colour, size).
  6. Bark Type: Note the type of bark on the tree (e.g. smooth, rough, peeling).
  7. Height: Estimate or measure the tree's height.
  8. General Observations/Notes: Include any additional observations or interesting features.


  • On laptops or devices, research the trees from the chart and find both the common and scientific (Latin) names. 


Interesting Fact

This dual naming system, known as binomial nomenclature, was introduced by the Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus in the 18th century. It provides a standardised and universally accepted way of categorising living trees, plants and other organisms. It is used in botany to avoid any confusion that may arise from the varying use of common names, which differ regionally. 



  • When considering the naming of trees and the practice of binomial nomenclature in the scientific community, reflect on the significance of recognising and incorporating local First Nations Languages for trees. How does this practice contribute to fostering cultural respect and understanding?
Mark as complete

Tree Hugger Lesson 2

  • Following on from the last lesson, revisit the Wamba Wamba Multi-Touch Book and the Muyi Mir story. 
  • Explore the Wamba Wamba Interactive Map on page 70, where Uncle Ron tells us about Muyi Mir (Lake Boga), explaining "It was not always treeless and was surrounded by many fine trees, including huge red gums, Murray pines, and wattles. The trees even sprouted out of the lake itself." 
  • Begin with a discussion about the importance of trees in our environment. Some questions to support this conversation are as follows: 
  • What essential role do trees play in our environment, and why are they important?
  • How would the landscape and environment be impacted by the loss of so many different tree species?
  • How do you think the loss of trees impacted the Wamba Wamba people?
  • In what ways do trees contribute to the cultural significance of a place? (e.g what do you know about birthing trees, scar trees, and other trees of significance in First Nations cultures? How can we learn more about this?)
  • Are there any significant trees in our local area? What are they? And what role do they play in the community?


  • How do forests serve the ecosystem, and what benefits do they provide for both animal and human communities?
  • Why are forests crucial for maintaining biodiversity, and in what ways do they contribute to regulating the Earth's climate?
  • What factors contribute to the high rate of land clearing in Queensland compared to other Australian states?
  • How does land clearing impact carbon emissions, and what drives the main reasons for land clearing in Australia?
  • Is land clearing necessary for cattle farming, and how does it contribute to issues like bushfires and drought?
  • In what ways does deforestation affect animals and disrupt their habitats?
  • How much land is cleared in Australia every second, and what is the cumulative impact of this rapid clearance?
  • If deforestation were to continue indefinitely, what potential environmental and societal impacts might arise?
  • How did the farmers in the film demonstrate ethical farming practices?
  • What measures did the farmers take to plant trees for carbon neutrality, and what does "revegetation" entail?
  • Explore the techniques mentioned in the film for carbon sequestration, including practices like not disturbing the soil and seasonal grazing. How can we measure carbon sequestration?
  • What are the benefits associated with having a carbon-neutral farm or purchasing carbon-neutral beef, and how do these practices contribute to minimising the environmental impact of farming and agriculture industries?


  • How could our class actively contribute to promoting sustainability and making environmentally conscious choices at school or in our daily lives? What role does personal responsibility play in addressing broader environmental challenges?
Mark as complete

Tree Hugger Lesson 3

  • Begin the lesson by presenting selected clips from the documentary "The Giants," which explores the awe-inspiring ancient and remarkable trees located in Tasmania. The documentary chronicles the life of Dr. Bob Brown, a former politician, doctor, and environmentalist whose profound admiration for nature led to the preservation of parts of the Tasmanian Forest and the Franklin River. The film also offers insights into scientific discoveries about various tree species. You can access the documentary here.
  • Given the film's length, focus on these four key moments  that highlight the significance of the trees and the environmental movement. 
  1. 24:29 minutes - the Alpine Lakes and "Mirror of Heaven"; 
  2. 32:32 minutes - the plumbing of trees; 
  3. 42:12 minutes-  the Tasmanian Wilderness Society; and
  4. 59:00 minutes - Tasmania Protection.
  • Form a yarning circle to allow students to share their initial thoughts and feelings about the clips and the importance of trees in various cultures and ecosystems. Encourage them to share any existing knowledge or personal experiences related to trees and the environment.



  • Assign students an ancient tree to research from different parts of the world. Provide them with a list of notable ancient trees to guide their research. Some examples include:
  • Wollemi Pine in New South Wales, Australia
  • The Great Western Tingle Tree in Western Australia
  • King's Holly in Tasmania 
  • Giant Sequoia in the United States 
  • The Baobab Trees in Madagascar and Africa
  • Alerce Tree in Chile
  • Olive Tree of Vouves in Greece
  • Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi in Sri Lanka
  • Based on their research, ask students to express their understanding and appreciation of ancient trees through creative means. This could include drawing, painting, storytelling, or even composing a short poem inspired by the trees. 


  • How has exploring the stories and significance of ancient trees from around the world deepened your understanding of the interconnectedness between culture and nature, emphasising the  importance of preserving these remarkable living beings.
Mark as complete

Tree Hugger Lesson 4

  • Following on from the last lesson, explore the concept of "Tree Hugging" as both a symbolic and practical approach to protecting ancient trees. 
  • Look into the historical roots of "Tree Hugging" through the practices of Bishnoi women, as highlighted in this article, and its subsequent inspiration for the Chipko movement.
  • In small groups, discuss and record the reasons people wish to preserve ancient trees and the potential environmental threats to the world if they are destroyed  , such as deforestation, climate change, and urbanisation.



  • Direct each group to research and present on an assigned "Tree Hugging" movement, covering its history, objectives, notable achievements, and ongoing efforts to protect trees.
  • Some links to support their research as follows: 

Terania Creek Anti-Logging Protest (ABC News)

Tree Sitters in Appalachian Oil Pipeline Protest (The Guardian)

Gumbaynggirr Elders' Protest Against Logging (SBS NITV)

Tasmania's Anti-Protest Laws and Bob Brown's Activism (The Guardian)

Greta Thunberg's Environmental Activism (BBC News)

  • Students are then to present their findings to the class in a short presentation. 
  • Additionally, students are invited to extend their understanding by crafting an argumentative letter or protest statement related to their assigned movement or an environmental issue happening in their local community. This written component should be well-structured, incorporating information from the provided links and any additional reputable sources they may find. The objective is to engage students in applying their research to real-world communication, promoting persuasive writing skills and advocacy for environmental causes.
Mark as complete



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