Utilising Australia Remembers 3 as an Education Tool by Catherine Bauer

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Author Catherine Bauer is here to generously share some fantastic resources and tools to help parents and educators effectively utilise the information found in Australia Remembers 3; Len Waters, Boundless and Born to Fly. Thanks so much, Catherine, for this wonderful article.


Big Sky Publishing’s Australia Remembers 3: Len Waters – Boundless and Born to Fly is the third book an engaging and informative new series to demystify Australia’s military history and educate children about Australia’s past and present. Australia Remembers 3: Len Waters – Boundless and Born to Fly investigates the life of Australia’s first-known Aboriginal fighter pilot, Len Waters. It is filled with fascinating facts, images, maps and research tools, making it an outstanding resource for the classroom, library, or simply at home.

Big Sky Publishing has also published my picture book Dreaming Soldiers, a powerful and moving story about true mateship, and winner of the 2019 Australian Speech Pathology Book of the Year Awards – Indigenous Children Category.

I hope teachers will enjoy sharing Australia Remembers 3: Len Waters – Boundless and Born to Fly with students and that everyone learns a lot in the process. I also hope that my books go some way to not only satisfying a thirst for knowledge, but infuse children with a sense of community service and respect for those who keep us safe.

About Len Waters

Len Waters may have been born behind the gates of an Aboriginal reserve, but his big imagination and even bigger dreams took him soaring well beyond the reach of those who tried to confine him.

Born in the 1920s, Kamilaroi man Len Waters dreamed of taking to the skies. It was an unlikely dream at the time, but during WWII he beat the odds to become Australia’s first known Aboriginal fighter pilot. Len was a history maker, a young man who didn’t let society’s prejudice, his culture or skin colour stand in his way. But when WWII was over, Len sadly discovered that his service and courage did not result in equality. Len once said that, out of his RAAF uniform, he simply ‘returned to being a black fellow’. Today, decades later, Len’s determination and achievements are recognised and honoured across Australia.

Australia Remembers 3: Len Waters – Boundless and Born to Fly takes readers on Len Waters’ soaring journey from making his home-made model aeroplanes at his kitchen table, to flying RAAF fighter jets in the south-west Pacific in World War II.

Key Themes: 

  • Australian military history
  • Royal Australian Air Force
  • Resilience
  • Independence
  • Civics and citizenship
  • Diversity of Australia’s First People and the continuous connection of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to Country/Place
  • First Nations history
  • Fairness
  • Dreamtime
  • Racism
  • Community and commemoration
  • Personal and family history
  • Government and democracy
  • Mateship
  • Service, heroism and courage
  • Values and emotions: Compassion, Resilience, Persistence, Fear, Hope, Empathy.

As illustrated in the list above, the book covers a huge amount of territory and therefore can be used in a variety of ways to spark conversations and activities that will develop learning and knowledge.

Top three questions you may like to pose students include:  

  • Len knew from an early age that he wanted to fly aeroplanes. Ask students to consider what they might like to do when they’re older? What are the obstacles that might exist and how might they overcome them?
  • As a young boy, Len had lots of heroes. The people he looked up to included the Aboriginal Elders in his community and the pioneers of air flight. Who are your heroes? These are either people you admire in your family or community, or others who have achieved something, or who set a good example.
  • Len’s parents wanted their children to receive at least a basic education including reading and writing. They also wanted the children to have pride in their Aboriginal heritage. Ask students how their families maintain cultural traditions and practices.

Three activities you may like to conduct with students:

  • The eagle is a totem. What does it symbolise? Think about your own qualities and design your own personal totem.
  • Students interview their parents, grandparents or other family members to find out more about their family history. Did any family members belong to the armed forces? Make a family scrapbook. It could feature the following: pictures of your parents and grandparents as children or young adults; retellings of family stories that have been handed down from generation to generation; a family tree going back to your great-grandparents, with information about the people featured; a letter describing an exciting event in your life or in the life of a member of your family; newspaper-style interviews with family members; information about any special family traditions; a map showing where your family members have lived in a state, or in Australia or in the world.
  • Using the template in the book, make your own model bi-plane – take them for a test flight.

Article by Catherine Bauer.


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Australia Remembers 3 is available for purchase through: Big Sky Publishing | Booktopia


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