Student handout 7: The Drover's Wife

Exploring the text

1. Make a list of the personal qualities of this woman as they are presented to the reader in the extract (for example, courage, cunning).

2. Divide into small groups. Complete the table below in your group and place each of the qualities from individual lists into the most appropriate column.

Positive qualities

Negative qualities


As a class, share your responses – appoint a recorder to draw up the same table on the board. Record the responses of each group – place a tick next to each word when it is repeated.

As a whole class, discuss:

  • Are there more positive than negative qualities?
  • Has there been disagreement about the category in which a particular quality belongs? Which one/s? Why do you think this is the case?
  • What is the quality that you, as a class, think is the dominant one in this woman's personal make-up?
  • As a class, discuss and develop a definition of ‘personal qualities’.

3. Draw a symbol map of the five qualities that you think are the most significant in this woman's character. Choose a visual symbol to represent each of the qualities. For example:

4. Write out two copies of the following questions on slips of paper:

  • What are the elements of our lives which help to shape our ‘character’ and personal qualities?
  • Do you think that we, as Australians, share certain character qualities? What do you think these are?
  • What is Henry Lawson saying about the way the environment (that is, the bush) has shaped the character of the woman in this story?

Divide into six groups. Each group discusses a particular question. As groups, prepare answers to share with the rest of the class. All members of the group should be involved in the reporting back process.

Working beyond the text

5. Conduct a survey of how many nationalities are represented in your class. Your teacher will draw up a poster for you to fill in.


Country of origin


If you originally came from a country other than Australia, can you identify any common values and characteristics of the citizens of that country?

Who or what do you think has been responsible for shaping these particular shared values and characteristics?

6. Write your own short story, set in present times, to show what you consider to be the most important aspects of the modern Australian character.
Write your own short story set in present times about an incident that highlights a character's special personal qualities. The character is you.

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