Teaching sequence

Lesson objective

In this lesson students develop an understanding of the strategies humans have implemented to ensure their survival in desert and semi-arid regions.


Briefly revisit the different ways that plants and animals have adapted to desert and semi-arid environments. Ask students to discuss the following questions:

  • What strategies did Australian Indigenous people use to successfully live in deserts and semi-arid regions?
  • How did early settlers work out which regions of Australia were suitable for growing crops, raising livestock or establishing communities.
  • What strategies did early settlers use to survive the harsh environmental conditions?
  • What were the differences between survival techniques of Indigenous people and those of the early settlers?


  1. Show students a map of Goyder’s Line and ask them to suggest what they think the line may represent. If students need help, show them the satellite image of eastern South Australia
  2. Distribute the worksheet Goyder’s Line to each student. Allow students time to read the information provided. Engage in a class discussion about the information they have just read. Ask the following questions.
    • What information did Goyder collect and how was this information collected?
    • How was the information used to inform personal and community decisions?
    • What were the advantages and disadvantages of the development and implementation of Goyder’s Line?
    • How did Goyder use information about the physical conditions of the environment to determine a limit to areas that could be cropped in South Australia?
    • Was the development and implementation of Goyder’s Line a good idea? Was it fair to tell people that they should not grow crops, raise livestock or develop settlements in land that was beyond Goyder’s Line?
    • How did Goyder’s Line impact on the Indigenous people?
  3. Organise students into cooperative learning teams and ask them to complete a PMI (plus, minus, interesting) chart on the following statement: ‘People should use scientific knowledge about the physical conditions of the environment to work out where they can and cannot grow particular crops.’


Meet together as a class and look through some of the responses recorded on the PMI charts.

Ask students to form a human graph based on whether they agree or disagree with the following statement:
‘Science knowledge is important in helping to inform choices of where to live and grow crops in relation to desert and semi-arid environments.’

Then ask the students:
What are your reasons for agreeing or disagree with this statement?

Lesson Resources


Student activities

Digital resources

Map of Goyder’s Line, History Trust of South Australia. The original web page for this resource no longer exists, this copy made available through the Internet Archive's Wayback Machine.

Satellite image of eastern South Australia, Wikipedia (JPG) 


Goyder’s Line (Word, 614 KB)

Useful links

Goyder’s Line, SA Memory. Images and information

Life on Goyder’s Line, Australian Geographic. Article. The original article is no longer available on the original website, this copy made available through the Internet Archive's Wayback Machine.

Staying alive in the desert, Engaging with Australian Indigenous science. Information on how Aboriginal people survive in the desert 

Tiddalick the Frog: Dreamtime story, YouTube (2:43 min). Video