Evolution of Australian Biota Study Day - Mount Tomah

A full day outreach program for Stage 6 Biology students.

Student with Diprotodon fossils

Student with Diprotodon fossils
Photographer: Stuart Humphreys © Australian Museum

This full day outreach program, developed by the Australian Musuem, the Royal Botanic Gardens and Taronga Zoo, is held at The Blue Mountains Botanic Garden, Mount Tomah. Students examine fossils, specimens, live animals and plants to investigate the evolution and adaptations of Australian animals and plants.

Educator-led program

The Study Day comprises three educator-led sessions of one hour and 15 minutes duration each.

  1. An Australian Museum educator provides an introduction on Australian megafauna then facilitates the Museum session, Learning from fossils. Students work in small groups and perform first-hand investigations using fossils and specimens of Australian animals to compare current and extinct forms. Activities focus on Australian megafauna and on platypus evolution. 
  2. A Blue Mountains Botanic Garden educator leads a session where students investigate native Australian plants, including the forests of Gondwana, living plant fossils, and pollination strategies. 
  3. A Taronga Zoomobile and educator visits the Garden allowing students to interact with live animals while learning about the adaptations and evolution of native Australian animals including kangaroos and echidnas. The changing ideas of scientists are also considered with reference to the modern Platypus.
  • Bookings are essential: Mount Tomah-based Study Days are booked through the Australian Museum Bookings Office
    Phone the Australian Museum Bookings Office on (02) 9320 6222 or Fax (02) 9320 6072
  • Maximum number of students: 25 per session (3 sessions per day)
  • Duration: Three 75 minute sessions – usually 9.45 am to 2.30 pm
  • Cost: $24.20 (incl GST) per student
  • Location: The Blue Mountains Botanic Garden, Bells Line of Road, Mount Tomah
  • Transport: Coach parking available
  • Botanic Gardens Trust Risk assessment 

Dates Available: 

  • 4 - 8 August 2014 (inclusive)
 Booking changes or cancellations:
  • Decreases or increases in your booked number must be advised by 4 weeks before the excursion date.
  • If the number of students attending the Study Day is significantly lower (by 5 students or more) than expected, the school will be invoiced for the booked number of students.
  • We reserve the right to cancel days/sessions not fully filled.
 Please note:

Education Resource Kit

After you have booked your students’ excursion you will be sent a link to the Education Kit and the password to allow you to access these documents:

  • Student activities for the three sessions are e-mailed following booking.
    (The Museum session, Learning from Fossils can also be viewed at any time.)
  • Answers for teachers.
Syllabus links: 
  • Biology Stage 6 

The Study Day is specifically designed for the Stage 6 Biology Syllabus topic, 8.5 Evolution of Australian Biota.

The outcomes addressed by the Museum session are detailed below. The  Museum activities (Activities 1 - 5) that relate to each syllabus outcome are indicated below.
All students complete Activity 5 on Platypus evolution, and are allocated one other activity (either Activity 1 or 2 or 3 or 4) on Australian megafauna.

Syllabus outcomes for Biology 8.5 Evolution of Australian Biota:

  Students: Students:

1. Evidence for the rearrangement of crustal plates and continental drift indicates that Australia was once part of an ancient super continent

  •  identify and describe evidence that supports the assertion that Australia was once part of a landmass called Gondwana, including: -fossils in common on Gondwanan continents
    Activity 5 
  • discuss current research into the evolutionary relationships between extinct species, including megafauna and extant Australian species
    Activities 1, 5
  •  ... gather, process and analyse information from secondary sources and use available evidence to illustrate the changing ideas of scientists in the last 200 years about individual species such as the platypus as new information and technologies became available 
    Activity 5
2. The changes in Australian flora and fauna over millions of years have happened through evolution  
  • gather information from secondary sources to describe some Australian fossils, where these fossils were found and use available evidence to explain how they contribute to the development of understanding about the evolution of species in Australia   
    Activities 2, 5
  • perform a first-hand investigation, gather information of named Australian fossil samples and use available evidence to identify similarities and differences between current and extinct Australian life forms   
    Activities 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 
4. A study of palaeontology and past environments increases our understanding of the possible future range of plants and animals
  • explain the importance of the study of past environments in predicting the impact of human activity in present environments
    Activity 5
  • identify the ways in which palaeontology assists understanding of the factors that may determine distribution of flora and fauna in present and future environments
    Activity 5 
  • gather, process and analyse information from secondary sources and use available evidence to propose reasons for the evolution, survival and extinction of species, with reference to specific Australian examples
    Activities 1, 5 


The syllabus links for the Gardens and Zoo sessions are provided in the Education Resource Kit that is sent following booking.

Beth Blaxland , Education Project Officer
Last Updated:

Tags outreach, education, educator-led, outline, program, biota, program outline, Year 11,