NSW History Syllabus - Stage 2 First Contacts

Stage 2 - First contacts

This topic introduces world history and the movements of peoples. Beginning with the history of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, students examine European exploration and colonisation in Australia and throughout the world up to the early 1800s. Students examine the impact of exploration on other societies, how these societies interacted with newcomers, and how these experiences contributed to their cultural diversity.


  • A student describes people, events and actions related to world exploration and its effects HT2 3
  • A student applies skills of historical inquiry and communication HT2 5

Key inquiry questions:

  • Why did the great journeys of exploration occur?
  • What was life like for Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander peoples before the arrival of the Europeans?
  • What was the nature and consequence of contact between Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander peoples and early traders, explorers and settlers?


The diversity and longevity of Australia's first peoples and the ways Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander peoples are connected to Country and Place (land, sea, waterways and skies) and the implications for their daily lives (ACHHK077)

  • Students identify the original inhabitants of Australia and create a timeline indicating their longevity in Australia of more than 50,000 years.   

The journey(s) of at least ONE world navigator, explorer or trader up to the late eighteenth century, including their contacts with other societies and any impacts (ACHHK078)

  • Students discuss the significance of opening of world trade routes by early explorers such as Vasco da Gama, Columbus, Magellan.   
  • Students outline the voyages of ONE early explorer, eg Zheng He, Torres, Jansz, Tasman, Captain Cook or La Perouse, and explain the impact of their voyages. 
  • Students discuss the question: 'Who discovered Australia?'   

The nature of contact between Aboriginal people and/or Torres Strait Islanders and others, for example, the Macassans and the Europeans, and the effects of these interactions on, for example, families and the environment (ACHHK080)

  • Students describe the nature of contact between Aboriginal people and/or Torres Strait Islander peoples and others, including Aboriginal resistance.