Lustre: Pearling and Australia

The South Australian Maritime Museum invites students to visit and learn about pearls and pearling in our new exhibition Lustre: Pearling and Australia.


Suitability: Years R – 10

Cost:   $7 per student (without cruise)

$9.50 with a Port River cruise

Availability: Term 1, Monday – Friday (subject to availability)

Students will:

  • Participate in a workshop to learn about the history and science of pearls and pearling.
  • Understand and identify the different groups involved in the pearling industry.
  • Investigate how pearls and pearlshell are created and have been valued, collected and used throughout history.
  • Consider the different experiences of migrant groups and Aboriginal people in the Australian pearling industry.
  • Understand the environmental problems faced by the pearling industry today.
  • Climb the historic lighthouse for a birds-eye view of the Port River and vessels.
  • View the South Australian Maritime Museum exhibits.


Students will:

  • Develop an understanding of the history and use of pearls and of the Australian pearling industry.
  • Develop an understanding of the experiences of different migrant groups associated with the Australian pearling industry.
  • Develop an understanding of how the pearling industry affected the lives of Aboriginal people.
  • Describe the positive and negative experiences of various groups in the Australian pearling industry from different perspectives.
  • Understand the science of pearl and pearlshell creation.

Australian Curriculum: History


  • Year 5 The reasons people migrated to Australia from Europe and Asia and the experiences and contributions of a particular migrant group.
  • The role that a significant group played in shaping a colony.
  • Year 6 Experiences of Australian democracy and citizenship, including the status and rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, migrants, women and children.
  • Stories of groups of people who migrated to Australia since Federation (including from ONE Asian country) and reasons they migrated.
  • The contribution of individuals and groups to the development of Australian society since Federation.
  • Year 9 Changes in the way of life of a group(s) of people who moved to Australia in this period.
  • The extension of settlement, including the effects of contact (intended and unintended) between European settlers in Australia and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
  • The experiences of non-Europeans in Australia prior to the 1900s (such as the Japanese, Chinese, South Sea Islanders, Afghans).


  • Years 5-6: Scientific knowledge is used to solve problems and inform personal and community decisions.
  • Years 7-8: People use science understanding and skills in their occupations and these have influenced the development of practices in areas of human activity.


General Capabilities:

Literacy (listening, reading, viewing and speaking)

Numeracy (organise and interpret historical events and developments, analyses of data to make meaning of the past, mapping)

Critical and creative thinking (ask questions, locate and select information, develop interpretations, exploring the past)

Ethical behaviour (principles, values and virtues, acting with moral integrity, acting with regard for others, critically exploring the character traits, actions and motivations of early South Australian explorers)

Personal and social competence (relationships between individuals)

Intercultural understanding (perspectives, beliefs and values of people, past and present).

Cross Curriculum Priorities:

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Histories and Cultures

Asia and Australia’s Engagement with Asia


Historical skills and understandings:

Chronology, terms and concepts: Sequence historical people and events. Use and understand historical terms

Historical questions and research: Pose a range of questions about the past

Analysis and use of sources: Locate relevant information from sources provided

Perspectives and interpretations: Identify different points of view

Explanation and communication: Use a range of communication forms


Scientific skills and understandings:

Communication: Communicate ideas, explanations and processes using scientific representations in a variety of ways

Questioning and predicting: With guidance pose clarifying questions and make predictions about scientific investigations.

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