Burke and Wills - Choose your own adventure

Learning intention

Students explore the elements of the decision making process through the lens of the Burke and Wills expedition.

Students will:

  • Understand the impact of a significant development or event on a colony; for example internal exploration 
  • Sequence historical people and events 


You can find background information for students in the the Exploration section of Explore history and the Select resources section of Learn skills.


Talk about the major events in the Burke and Wills story. You could do this by looking at the timeline on the Terra Incognita website or working through the Timeline Untangle activity.

Discuss the importance of leadership and decision-making as themes in the Burke and Wills story. As a class, brainstorm some of the decisions that changed the outcome of the expedition.

Hand out and go over Template 1 as a class. Students complete the ‘alternative decision’ column in pairs and then join with another group to discuss their alternatives.

Introduce students to the decision tree graphic organiser (Template 2). Choose a decision made on the expedition and, as a class, work through an example decision tree on the board, with each decision having two possible outcomes.

Each group chooses one of the key decision points to explore further using their own template. You can also use online brainstorming tools like Lucidchart or Bubbl.us to create decision trees.

Students can use their completed decision tree to make a choose-your-own-adventure style story or game. Each story should give choices and outcomes that accurately reflect students’ knowledge of the expedition.

More to explore

Try using a tool like Twine to create a combined class interactive story about Burke and Wills' ill-fated expedition.