This unit of work develops students to become active and informed citizens about the Hawkesbury-Nepean Valley. Students examine water as a resource in the Hawkesbury-Nepean Valley and the factors influencing its flows and availability across the catchment and floodplain. Students will investigate the nature of water scarcity and abundance, and assess ways of overcoming it, specific to the Hawkesbury-Nepean Valley. Students discuss variations in people’s perceptions about the value of water and the need for sustainable water management throughout. Students also investigate processes that continue to shape the Hawkesbury-Nepean Valley using the context of flooding as a hydrologic hazard.
This teaching resource includes;
This resource is part of a broader program to engage young people and to empower them to be part of an aware, prepared and responsive community. It is designed to help teachers, students and schools understand the flood risk, develop strategies in preparation for hazards and to build resilience.
The aim is to provide teachers and schools with a free online resource that would become a key component of the Stage 4 (Year 7 and 8) Geography syllabus in NSW. Although specifically considering the Hawkesbury-Nepean Valley, the intention is that it be useful and valuable to schools across the state and perhaps the country. Flooding is a significant event in the Australian landscape. The project’s aims have wide relevance:
The Hawkesbury-Nepean Valley is a massive area in outer north-western Sydney. The topography and rich alluvial soils have made it ideal for farmland, and for well over a century it has provided much of the fresh produce for the Sydney region. More recently, residential development has increased significantly with many new suburbs and associated infrastructure.
The Valley is also a major floodplain. Five major rivers and their tributaries flow into the valley, but there is only one outlet to the ocean, through the narrow Sackville Gorge. Floodwater backs up and spreads across the floodplain causing wide, deep and damaging floods. While flooding is an important natural process, there have been many occasions when floods in this valley have caused widespread destruction of property, and there has also been loss of life.
Under the Flood Strategy, an innovative interagency approach to developing the resource pulled together experts and expertise from educational institutions across all levels and from all sectors, as well as government departments and agencies. An extremely high level of cooperation and dedication saw those involved share their skills and knowledge with overwhelming generosity.
Research and specialist input from a Schools Advisory Committee led to the selection of ‘Water in the World’ as the most suitable element of the school curriculum to support with learning and teaching resources on flood risk and resilience. Following a robust process, the Centre for Educational Research at Western Sydney University was selected to take the lead role as educational specialists to develop the resources.
Continue reading: Project background & acknowledgments
Western Sydney University has been the educational partner and leader in the pedagogical design of this resource.
These resources focus on developing students’ competence and capability in applying geographical tools and skills. These tools include mapping, direction, scale, climate graphing and interpreting data. Geographical concepts such as scale, place, environment, change and interconnection are addressed. Students are given practical examples that relate to the Case Study of the Hawkesbury-Nepean Valley.
Fieldwork is an integral part of learning to think geographically about space, place, interconnections, the environment and geographical changes. Fieldwork uses a range of geographical tools such as maps, GIS, data, photographing, diagrams and spatial/scientific measurements.
This teaching resource includes;
This resource develops students’ geographical thinking about the Hawkesbury-Nepean Valley and how flooding occurs. It considers the tributaries that create the bathtub effect in the valley and provides students with opportunities to gather geographical data about the floodplain, potential and historic flood levels and apply geographical concepts about interconnection and environmental change.
It is an inquiry based and immersive activity. The learning intention of the tasks is to ensure students have understood the geographical characteristics of the Hawkesbury-Nepean Valley and made connections about flood mitigation strategies. There is a strong literacy and numeracy focus for these tasks.
Stories of Resilience provides students with opportunities to engage with building community resilience in a flood event. These resources explore how resilience is based on preparedness, current and up to date information, appropriate decision making, personal agency and dealing with human, economic or social losses to rebuild.
These resources use scenarios, stories and learning challenges to develop students’ skills in understanding how to plan and prepare for flood events, how to apply information from reliable sources and government agencies, when and how to evacuate, where to go, how to survive and how to rebuild and connect with their community.
This teaching resource includes:
These resources are aligned to the Australian Curriculum content for Science, Maths, History and English. The resources guide teachers to consider the cross curriculum content links from Geography to these other areas. Activities use inquiry based approaches and guide students to think mathematically or scientifically. There is a strong emphasis on developing skills in English such as reading, writing, representation and text analysis.
This teaching resource includes:
English task: Laura Wythes, NSW SES Zone Commander for Sydney Metro, said the new campaign was a vital part of increasing community awareness of flooding in the region.Download Image
Problem based learning task: Plaque showing 1867 flood level, Doctor’s House Windsor; Carroll, K., Western Sydney University, 2019Download Image
This gallery contains a range of labelled images for teachers and students to use when studying “Water in the World”. It includes historical photos and etchings of flooding, photos of communities preparing for flood and field-trip locations, plus useful graphs and diagrams relating to flood history and behaviour in the Hawkesbury-Nepean Valley.
These resources are open access for you to download and use in study activities.
Etching of the 1867 Flood in the Hawkesbury-Nepean Valley depicting the Eather Family house ruin (Illustrated Sydney News 16 Aug 1867)Download Image
1867 Flood in the Hawkesbury-Nepean Valley. Eather Family (Illustrated Sydney News July 16 1867)Download Image
Etching of the 1867 Flood in the Hawkesbury-Nepean Valley depicting Windsor at nightfall (State Library of Victoria)Download Image
Comparison of the differences in flood levels and flood risk between the Hawkesbury-Nepean River at Windsor and other floodplains (Infrastructure NSW)Download Image
Eather Family memorial from the 1867 Flood in the Hawkesbury-Nepean Valley in which 12 family members died (Stephen Yeo)Download Image
Flood damage at Penrith Powerboat and Ski Club in the 1961 floods - 3 of 3 (Penrith City Library)Download Image
Flood emergency planning event for horses in the Hawkesbury-Nepean Valley 1 (Infrastructure NSW)Download Image
Flood emergency planning event for horses in the Hawkesbury-Nepean Valley 2 (Infrastructure NSW)Download Image
Flood planning workshop with schools in the Hawkesbury-Nepean Valley 1 (Infrastructure NSW)Download Image
Flood planning workshop with the aged care sector in the Hawkesbury-Nepean Valley 2 (Infrastructure NSW)Download Image
Flood preparedness workshop with early childhood services in the Hawkesbury-Nepean Valley 1 (Infrastructure NSW)Download Image
Having access to a well‑maintained float is vital if you need to evacuate your horse ahead of a flood (Infrastructure NSW)Download Image
Schematic of a cross-section of a floodplain showing how, as floodwaters rise, some areas (known as flood islands) can become isolated as lower-level access roads are flooded. As floodwaters continue to rise, these flood islands can become fully submerged. (Infrastructure NSW)
Labelled aerial view across McGraths Hill towards the Blue Mountains in the 1961 floods (Vic Gillespie Collection - Hawkesbury City Library)Download Image
New Hawkesbury-Nepean flood risk information is available on the NSW SES website. (NSW SES)Download Image
Newspaper clipping - canoeing down Railway Parade in Riverstone 1961 (Keith Barlow in Australian Women’s Weekly Dec 6 1961)Download Image
Graph showing the relative contribution of different river catchments in previous floods in the Hawkesbury-Nepean Valley (Infrastructure NSW)Download Image
Aerial view of a Riverstone house and shed cut off by rising flood waters in the 1988 floods. May 1 1988 (Newspix)Download Image
What does chance or likelihood of a flood mean in the Hawkesbury-Nepean Valley? It’s helpful to think about the likelihood of flooding as the chance a particular flood will happen in an 80-year lifetime. This graphic explains this concept of a flood’s likelihood and relates it to other common ways of describing floods. (NSW SES)
Yarramundi Bridge overturned in the 1961 floods - 1 of 2 (Kurrajong-Comleroy Historical Society)Download Image
Flooded houses at Emu Plains on the Nepean River Aug 2 1990 (Antonin Cermak - Fairfax Media)Download Image
Newspaper - Highway for surf boats at Riverstone Hotel 1961 (Daily Telegraph Nov 21 1961 via State Library of NSW)Download Image