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Unit 2 - Creation of a Nation

Lesson plan
Activity - Almighty Arch - Triumphal Arches Celebrating Federation


On 1 January 1901, the Commonwealth of Australia was proclaimed in a celebration across the nation. Grand processions heralded the event and the streets were lavishly decorated with large triumphal arches that reflected important aspects of Australian life. Arches were an extremely popular form of expression at the time of Federation and triumphal arches were erected in all of Australia's capital cities emphasising many typically Australian themes.


Students work through an activity to create a triumphal arch that personally represents a current Australian theme or expression of community idealism.


  • understand and successfully complete a set of instructions
  • understand important Australian themes represented in 1901 such as wool and wheat
  • convey a theme that represents, in their mind, something identifiably Australian
  • record and discuss personal feelings that identify being Australian
  • actively participate in an informal class presentation


Exhibit title - Ceremonial Arch
Location - Creation of a Nation, section 3

Exhibit title - Referendum
Location - Creation of a Nation, section 3

This activity relates to the reproduced photograph of a ceremonial arch created to celebrate the proclamation of Federation (refer to map supplied in National Capital Exhibition Interpretation Guide). The referendum exhibit also provides students with an historical background to the events prior to Federation and its celebration.


  • student activity sheet
  • image of triumphal arch
  • variety of craft materials


  1. Introduce the topic by setting the scene. Use the image of a triumphal arch to explain to the students what one looked like in 1901.
    • help students identify important aspects of Australian life in 1901, by referring to industries, tradespeople and Australian ideals
    • help students identify what makes us Australian today and compare the similarities
  2. Hand out the activity sheet.
  3. Students write down what they think symbolises Australia today.
  4. Students choose a theme from the list and write down its identifying features. For example, a student might choose the beach as something that symbolises Australia. The student then provides a list of identifying features such as water, swimming, surfing, sand, sunburn etc.
  5. Students create an arch shape (you direct the size of the arch) from paper or thin card.
  6. Students decorate their arch, using a variety of craft materials, which promotes the identifying features they have listed. A theme should be evident.
  7. On completion of the craft component, students discuss with the class why they chose a particular theme and explain the arch's identifying features.
  8. This activity can be adapted to suit group participation.