Activity 1: What are the factors that led to Federation?

The idea that the six Australian colonies ought to create some form of national government had existed since the 1850s. By the 1880s colonial leaders were becoming concerned about matters such as defence and immigration, which affected the whole continent.

  • Revise the Year 5 inquiry question: How did an Australian colony develop over time and why?
  • What were the reasons (economic, political and social) for the establishment of British colonies in Australia after 1800?
  • Compare maps of Australia before and after Federation.
    What were the colonies?
    What were their capital cities?

See From colonies to states: maps (PDF, 288 KB)

  • Use a range of primary sources from the historical sources list in the Year 6 program: Federation (PDF, 276 KB) to investigate and discuss the issues and events that led to Federation.

Continue to gather and summarise information as a class for this inquiry:


  • Contribution to the class timeline.
  • Teacher observation (anecdotal notes) of students using a range of sources to elicit information
A poster showing a map of Australia and caricature drawings of various personalities involved in the Federation cause. Federation poster, c1895
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