"The Legend of Moondyne Joe"
Winner West Australia Premier¹s Book Award 2002
These notes to accompany The Legend of Moondyne Joe provide suggestions for classroom activities based on or linked to the book's text and illustrations and highlight points for discussion.
Not known for gunfights or robbing banks, it was the convict bushranger Moondyne Joe’s amazing ability to escape every time he was placed behind bars that won him fame and the affection of the early settlers.
Wearing a kangaroo-skin cape and possum-skin slippers, he found freedom in the wooded valleys and winding creeks at Moondyne Hills.
Joe was harmless, except possibly to a few settlers whose horses had a ‘mysterious’ way of straying. When blamed for the disappearance of a farmer’s prize stallion the colonial authorities were soon to find out that there wasn’t a jail that could hold Joe!
On Writing “The Legend of Moondyne Joe”
By Mark Greenwood
I wanted to create a fun story, accurate in detail, about a strength of spirit that was nurtured by life in the new colony. A book that would bring to life a legend from our colourful history. I believe by having an appreciation of their own history, children better understand themselves, their community and their culture.
The Legend of Moondyne Joe aims to encourage interest in our convict history to a wide audience of middle to upper primary and lower secondary age children. The picture book format allows illustrations to bring characters and settings to life. Illustrations help readers to develop a feel for bygone eras that words alone cannot portray. The Legend of Moondyne Joe story subtly explores the frontier qualities of the Australian bush and provides children an insight into the early years of settlement.
Compared to stories of other bushrangers, Moondyne Joe is a topic about which
little is known. Children’s knowledge of bushrangers usually concerns
blazing gunfights or robberies. Joe was different. He was a bushranger known
to a few settlers whose horses had a ‘mysterious’ way of straying,
but he became a legend for keeping the colony amused with some remarkable escapes
About the Author
Mark Greenwood is an author and musician. His books and songs have been published internationally. Mark’s series of children’s books, “Magic Boomerang”, “Outback Adventure” and “Our Big Island”, were prompted an interest in multicultural literature and the unique way illustrated books can assist children to develop an understanding of other cultures and perspectives.
Mark’s new work aims to encourage an appreciation of Australia’s
unique myths and legends. He enjoys working with students of all ages, inspiring
and developing their natural curiosity about books and writing.
About the Illustrator
Frané Lessac has over 25 children’s books published throughout the world. Residing in Western Australia, Lessac was born in the United States. Before turning to painting she studied feature film production at UCLA in California.
Travelling is a major source of inspiration for her work as she paints her impressions of a country and the way of life in her oil and gouache artwork. A prolific artist, she has captured the magic, the simplicity and the reality of West Indian, African, Indian and urban American folk cultures and environments. More recently her work is inspired by brilliant blue skies and the distinctive red ochre of the Australian landscape.
To bring the legend of Moondyne Joe to life, Frané used gouache paints.
Suggestions for classroom activities
Talk / write about life in the days of the convicts. Research one element, such as transport, fashion, school days, or kinds of work, home life and pastimes.
Imagine you were suddenly transported back in time. What was life like in the Swan River Colony of Western Australia.
Create a time-line of the important dates and places in the story of Moondyne Joe, and include in it your own illustrations.
Look at the reasons why people were sent to Australia as convicts.
Discuss how Moondyne Joe was different from other bushrangers.
Design a wanted poster for an imaginary escaped convict.
Imagine you are a convict - write a diary entry titled: "My first day working on the chain gang".
Newsflash! Write a front-page story about one of Moondyne Joe’s escapes. Design your own article with a catchy title, sub-headings, text and illustrations.
Write a song or poem about Moondyne Joe and / or the convict era.
Using the book’s endpapers as as a guide, design a map showing positions of Perth and Fremantle, Moondyne Joe’s horse traps, the Newcastle Goal in Toodyay, the prison stables, Joe’s hideouts, the Avon River, his cell in Fremantle Prison, and Ferguson’s (Houghton’s) wine cellar, scene of his last capture.
Describe the countryside where Moondye Joe lived: the flora, fauna, landmarks, colours and country in the Avon Valley, where Joe lived the bushman’s life.
The story and its themes
Discussion - Does an appreciation of our convict history, give us a better understanding of ourselves, and our culture?
Moondyne Joe was an outstanding bushman, rough and ready, willing to improvise and ‘give it a go’. Discuss the strength of spirit nurtured by life in a convict colony.
Why does Moondyne Joe’s simple way of life and his determination to be free have such an appeal. What did the settlers admire about him?
Discuss the theme of freedom and independence, and how important they are to the historical origins of other Australian stories and legends.
Ask students to look closely at the front cover (without turning the book over to look at the back and without opening the book to look inside). Have them jot down quickly, like a brainstorming session, their responses to the cover. What questions come to mind? What might the story be about? How do they feel about the dashing figure? Where is the story set?
Questions based on the text and Glossary
When did the first convict labour in Western Australia arrive?
What made the policeman, patrolling the dimly lit streets, suspicious of Joseph Johns?
Why was Moondyne Joe arrested?
How long was Joe waiting in a crowded English gaol before he was herded aboard the convict ship?
A convict could be sentenced to transportation if his sentence was _____ years or over.
How did Moondyne Joe get to Australia?
When Joe had his first glimpse of the bleak, windswept shores of the Swan River settlement what was his attention drawn to?
What year did Moondyne Joe arrive in Australia?
What did the Governor of the colony do?
What did Joe wear when his clothes became ragged and torn?
Who did Joe mingle with at the Mahogany Creek Inn.
When Joe was released from prison why did he get into trouble again?
What were leg irons?
Why did the early settlers like Moondyne Joe?
The shrill call of what instrument raised the alarm when Joe escaped from the chain gang?
How did Joe scale the wall of Fremantle prison?
Where did Joe strike off his chains?
What did Joe use to cross the turbulent Avon River?
What was specially constructed for Joe at Fremantle prison ?
What was it that Joe had a fondness for that ultimately cost him his freedom ?
What did the new Governor do for Joe?
Where did Joe go to find a new home ?
Why is Moondyne Joe a legend?
Further reading for teachers
Moondyne Joe - The Man and the Myth by Ian Elliot
Interesting places to visit
(for Western Australian children)
Avon Valley National Park http://www.calm.wa.gov.au/national_parks/previous_parks_month/avon_valley.html
Fremantle Prison - http://www.fremantleprison.com
Moondyne Festival http://www.gidgenet.com.au/toodyay/contact.html
Swan River System Landscape www.wrc.wa.gov.au/srt/publications/landscape/precincts/precinct13/index.html
These notes are provided for free. For more extensive notes & information regarding school bookings for the book’s author and/or illustrator contact: firstname.lastname@example.org