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The Big Book of Australian History

Author:   Macinnis, Peter
Publisher:   National Library of Australia
Edition:   1st Edition


Pages:   288
Publication Date:   01 September 2013
Availability:   Out of stock   Availability explained

Price $39.99 Quantity:  
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Drawing on the impressive collections of the National Library of Australia, this comprehensive book provides children with an interesting and engaging overview of the history of Australia. It covers many of the main events in the nation’s history, including:

• Ancient Australia
• The Dreaming
• Voyages of discovery
• Founding colonies
• The explorers
• The lure of gold
• Settling the land
• The growth of cities
• Federation
• Becoming Anzacs
• Modern times
• The Great Depression
• Defending Australia
• Building for the future
• Controversial issues
• The sporting life
• Embracing multiculturalism
• On the world stage
• Through good times and bad

Packed with colourful images and interesting facts, The Big Book of Australian History introduces children to the many people and events that have made Australia what it is today. It also encourages them to think about how Australia has evolved as a nation.

The book features stunning images from the collections of the National Library of Australia by artists such as Ellis Rowan, John Gould and S.T. Gill. It also tells the stories of some of the most significant contributors to Australia’s cultural, political, sporting and social life, including Captain James Cook, Governor Lachlan Macquarie, Prime Minister Gough Whitlam and aviator Charles Kingsford Smith.

This is a book to dip into and savour. Author Peter Macinnis’ enthusiastic retelling of Australia’s story is infectious. Among the big events and the great moments that have shaped the country, Macinnis also includes lesser-known, interesting details that bring Australian history to life.

For example, did you know that, in 1934, the ABC developed ‘synthetic’ cricket, in which radio broadcasters gave a ball-by-ball description of the game, using sound effects to simulate the sound of bat on ball and the applause of the crowd?

The Big Book of Australian History was created with the help of a consultant historian, Indigenous advisor, and experienced history editor and writer Dr Stephanie Owen Reeder, winner of the 2012 NSW Premier’s Young People’s History Prize.

Full Product Details

Author:   Macinnis, Peter
Publisher:   National Library of Australia
Edition:   1st Edition


Pages:   288
Publication Date:   01 September 2013
Bind Format:   Hardback
Publisher's Status:   Out of Print
Availability:   Out of stock   Availability explained

Table of Contents


An absolute must-have for every school in Australia. Illustrated with stunning images including historical photographs and artwork from the archives of the NLA in Canberra, it is written by a CBCA Award winner and is chock-a-block crammed full of fabulous historical facts about a huge range of topics from the serious to the light-hearted.

This is an excellent resource that every school library and home should have. It gives a general introduction to Australian history with topics ranging from Ancient Australia to discovery of Australia, settlement, Aboriginal peoples, sporting life, Federation, Anzacs, natural disasters, multiculturalism and much more. 

The book is extremely well set out, well researched and written and well illustrated. The use of headings and sub-headings is great to see as all books should follow this format. It is obvious that Teacher Librarians were consulted in the layout of the book because the information is easy to access and understand. It is not an in-depth study but covers information that students need to know about Australia's history in broad terms so it is extremely useful for primary aged students and even lower high school students. The information is accurate unlike many websites today that many students rely upon.

Illustrations throughout are provided by the National Library of Australia and the use of colour adds to its appeal. The chapters have a coloured band at the top of the pages which makes it easy to see their start and finish. There is important information spread throughout the book on notepaper which draws the attention of the reader.

It is a hard cover book which is excellent for durability and it is up-to-date, being published in 2013. There is a link for teachers' notes which is also a bonus.

Overall, I loved this book. Congratulations to all concerned.

I know enough of Peter Macinnis to sit up and take notice when a new book of his is published! You may recall my review of Australian Backyard Naturalist. This meticulous researcher and entertaining writer has managed to produce yet another book that's been selected as a notable book in the Children's Book Council of Australia Book of the Year Awards.

At first, I decided to enjoy The Big Book of Australian History by dipping into it at random, but that didn't work. Before I knew it, I was caught up in the text, poring over the cleverly and carefully chosen illustrations, and pondering the points made. As I read, I also found within myself a dawning understanding of Australia's geological significance, a heightened appreciation of Indigenous people's struggles, and an enhanced perspective on our Australian culture.

I love the way Macinnis gives us an overview of Australian history without sacrificing entertainment in the name of research. He has an ability to dive down rabbit holes and find quirky stories and facts that will delight young readers. Did you know the nickname for Australian megafauna, Bullockornis planei, is the Demon Duck of Doom? Or that Rupert Murdoch's nickname was ‘the dirty digger'? I also love that I found mention of some of my Australian heroes in the book. Sporting heroes are mentioned, yes, but we also meet Nobel prize winners, scientists and many entertainers - how satisfying to see Gurrumul listed as a Popular Star! Macinnis' trademark sense of humour is also evident at times - one of the subheadings in the chapter, Voyages of Discovery, is 'James Cook takes a look'.

Macinnis has an easy, conversational style that explains to children without patronising, sharing snippets from the lives of famous and not-so-famous Australians. Kids will be fascinated to discover the background to many controversial issues and how change came about often because of TV - Australians could actually "see" injustices for themselves. I believe The Big Book of Australian History is a must for libraries and homes where knowledge is prized, and people seek to add to their understanding of Australia and its people.

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