My Place: Australian History Series

I was browsing the DVDs in our local library a month or so ago and came across a series from the Australian Children’s Television Foundation called My Place. I’d never heard of it, probably because we never watch TV. I tossed the DVD onto my pile of books, thinking it was worth taking a look at it. If we didn’t like it, we could just return it next time we visited the library.
So a day or so later, Sophie, Gemma-Rose and I sat down to watch the first episode of the first series of My Place, not knowing a thing about it. From the opening credits, we realised that the series tells the stories of different children who have all lived near a particular fig tree, but are separated from each other by time. Later, I discovered the series is based on the book, My Place, by Nadia Wheatley:
My Place series 1 adapts the book, written by Nadia Wheatley and Donna Rawlins, into 13 episodes about 13 children who live in the same house over 130 years (2008-1888). Their special place is the fig tree that represents a place of belonging.

Each episode is a complete story about one child in particular, but that story is also part of a larger story that reaches back in time. We meet some of the characters in more than one episode. The girls felt like detectives: “Look that’s Mike from a few episodes ago but here he’s only a boy!” Stepping back into the past, ten years at a time, is certainly different from watching a series that moves forward in time.
Some of the stories are better than others, but all are great starting places to discuss events in Australian and world history. Each episode is packed with themes, relevant to the time: Kevin Rudd’s Apology speech to indigenous Australians, boat people and refugees, the Vietnam War, World War I…  I’d recommend watching with your children so you can discuss and explain as you go.
The series is visually rich with authentic costumes and settings and activities appropriate to the time period.
When we reached the end of the series we were found ourselves in 1888. By this time, we’d bought a copy of Nadia Wheatley’s book My Place. The book travels further back in time, well past 1888, and so I wondered if there was a second series of My Place. I did some browsing online and discovered not only a second series, but also two associated websites.
My Place for Teacherscontains clips from the series, scripts, still images, summaries of each episode, themes and additional resources, a decade timeline, teaching activities, behind the scenes… a wealth of extra information.
From this site, we followed a link to the ABC3 My Place website. This is an interactive site. If I click onto 2008, I see:
Meet Laura
Explore Laura’s house
Visit the canal
View the Community tree
There are similar options for all the episodes. Different places in the community are explored but the same house is returned to again and again, as we pass back in time. It was so interesting seeing how kitchen appliances, toys, garden equipment, food,… even bags… have changed over time.
The girls really enjoyed this site:  looking and learning, answering quizzes, solving puzzles.
The other day, the My Place Series 2 DVD arrived in our mailbox. Now we can’t wait to travel back in time from 1878 to 1778 and beyond.
In the meantime, the girls are busy re-watching series one (we bought our own copy). This time they have decided to start at episode 13 and work their way forward in time. No doubt they will watch My Place many times.,, all except episode 9: Bridie. “It was a good story,” says Sophie, “but much too sad.”
So summing up, I would say:
My Place is a very entertaining and effective way for children to learn a lot about the history of Australia.
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  1. Reply

    Hi Sue,

    Found the book in a second hand shop many years ago (it still has the 20 cent sticker on the back from Southern Highlands Vinnies. Our copy was reprinted in 1988 and starts at 1988. Does the anniversary edition include later chapters or is this only in the TV series? Lisa tells me that they have watched some of the episodes on ABC. Just checked the library catalogue and they have the first series, both volumes. I'll see if I can borrow it and have a look.


    1. Reply


      The anniversary edition of "My Place" has most of the later chapters. From what I can see, a couple of extra indigenous characters (before time) have been added to the TV series which weren't in the original book. The book is also missing two of the recent day characters. They were added to bring the TV series up to the year 2008.

      The series is worth borrowing from the library. There were a few things my girls were unfamiliar with such as school type behaviour… and one episode involved spells and superstitions, but these things were representative of the people of those times and we just talked about them. As I said, some stories were better than others but there was something in each worth discussing. The girls found them entertaining too, not just informative.

      Thanks for your comment!

  2. Reply

    This sounds really great, Sue:-) I haven't heard of this series before. I'll look up the ABC site because I think our children would enjoy this. Thank you for sharing:-)

    God bless:-)

    1. Reply


      You may find the series in your library like we did. You can watch the excerpts on the Teachers site, and the ABC3 site is fun even if you haven't seen the DVDs. I imagine my girls will watch it over and over again so we thought it was worth buying the two series.

      If you find "My Place" and watch it, let me know what you think!

  3. Reply

    Ooooooh! This sounds like just the sort of thing my girls and I would like…I woner if it is available for us her in America! I'll have to start a hunt…Thanks for sharing.
    Pax Christi :0)

    1. Reply


      The DVDs and book are available from Fishpond which is here in Australia but I think they ship overseas. The book can also be bought from The Book Depository. I think you would enjoy the series and get a taste of both modern Australia and its history at the same time!

      God bless!

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