Download all 4 Unit 2 Lesson Plans including Activity Sheets (PDF file - Size: 0.98 Mb)

Unit 2 - Creation of a Nation

Lesson plan
Activity - What's in a Name?


The Commonwealth Government announced in 1912 that it would consider a name for the newly created National Capital from motivated members of the general public. Over 700 names were entered in the national competition, which covered a wide range of subject matters including: place names, the ‘Mother Country' (Great Britain), politics, Australian animals, birds and flowers, popular politicians and historical people, plus the odd joke or two (Gonebroke, Revenuelia and Swindleville, just to name a few). All of the names submitted clearly demonstrated that Australia had already developed a lively identity of its own.

On 12 March 1913, at a grand ceremony, the Federal Capital of Australia was announced by the Governor General's wife, Lady Denman. She announced the new city would be called ‘Canberra', with the accent, she informed her attentive audience, on the ‘Can'.

Many people believe that the name ‘Canberra' was derived from a local Aboriginal word meaning ‘meeting place'. This was seen as a suitable name for a place where Federal politicians would gather and where cultural institutions and memorials would be built for the people of Australia.


Students invent two different names for Australia's National Capital based on photographic images and text.


  • understand the process involved in choosing a name for Australia's National Capital
  • recognise ‘Australian identity' and its link with the names of Australian towns and cities
  • actively participate in an informal class presentation


Exhibit title - Naming of the Capital
Location - Creation of a Nation, section 4

This activity relates to the names written along the bottom of the large wall map in section 4
of the National Capital Exhibition. It refers to some of the more lively suggestions for the new Federal Capital.


  • student activity sheet


  1. Introduce the topic by setting the scene with the class.
  2. Hand out the student activity sheet and discuss its requirements with the class.
  3. Students will refer to the images provided and text on the activity sheet and invent two names for the National Capital. Creativity should be encouraged.
  4. Once the activity has been completed, students share their creative names for the National Capital and explain how and why they chose them.
  5. This activity can be adapted to suit participation in small student groups.