Becoming Billy Dare Curriculum Support

Becoming Billy Dare encompasses an important and sometimes neglected era in Australian history. The decade preceding Federation was instrumental in establishing Australia’s identity as a nation. Henry Lawson was in the prime of his working life, William Lane and other unionists were dreaming of a worker’s utopia, and Australian popular culture was developing its own proud, distinctive flavour.

Hamish Curry, Education Manager at the State Library of Victoria, author of the extensive teacher’s notes commented:

Thematically, this [Paddy’s personal journey] echoes Australia transforming from a small colony into a unified, organised nation – and this would allow some good inter-disciplinary activities with Humanities. The novel also uses many facts and historical references and a variety of Australian locations and intertwines these with examples of famous poets and stage play. Throughout Becoming Billy Dare, there are many references to real people, places and events. These could form part of a study of Irish and Australian history through the lens of literature.

The History Teacher’s Association of Australia recommends both Becoming Billy Dare & Bridie’s Fire for Year 6. To check out their resources go to:


Becoming Billy Dare in schools

Comments from teachers about Becoming Billy Dare in the classroom:

  • Murray's meticulous research is the basis of accurate and detailed descriptions of setting and character . 'Becoming Billy Dare' is, above all, an entertaining book. The easy prose style and dialogue readily invite readers into each of the 36 short chapters. The episodic structure makes this book a useful read-aloud, or reading-circle text, for upper primary-lower secondary students. Its 1890s setting, from the Depression era leading into Australia's Federation, has obvious appeal for students of Australian history. Paddy/Billy's optimism, willingness to work hard, and empathy for those around him, provide inspiration for all young adolescent readers.
    Jill Swann, St Peter's College, SA