Towards an Australian Charlotte Mason Curriculum

This is a page in progress with ideas for living books, related to Australia in some way, that we've used. I'll link to any reviews I've written and give a recommended age or an Ambleside Online year if you're looking for Australian substitutes. This page contains links to how and when we've used many of these books and others as well.

Picture Books - various ages
The March of Mother Duck by Colin Thiele - lovely book based on a true story; age 3 and up. Out of print.

Emu by Claire Saxby - age 4 to 6 years

The Story of Australia - ages 6 to 8 years; short chapters; well-illustrated 

Silvertail: The Story of a Lyrebird - age 5 to 6 years; AO Year 0/1

Magpie Island by Colin Thiele - AO Year 1 or 2

John of the Sirius by Doris Chadwick - I read this and its sequel below aloud. Good for children aged 7 and up but they're out of print and very expensive if you do find a copy.

John of Sydney Town by Doris Chadwick

Monarch of the Western Skies by C.K. Thompson - age 8 and up

Warrigal the Warrior by C.K. Thompson - great read aloud for all ages

All About Captain Cook by Armstrong Sperry

A Little Bush Maid by Mary Grant Bruce - the first in a beloved series of books. We used this one as a substitute for American Tall Tales in Year 3 and the others as free reads from around age 9. They are the sort of stories that grow with the reader

Bush Stories by Amy Mack - AO year 3

The Bush Boys by James Tierney - AO free reads, age 9 and up; there are number of books in the series; bush skills, camping, along with adventure

Stowaway by Karen Hesse - AO Year 4 read aloud

The Little Black Princess by Mrs Aeneas Gunn - free read; about age 9 years. Published in 1905 & available free online

The Silver Brumby series by Elyne Mitchell - age 10 & up or younger

Karrawingi the Emu by Leslie Rees - age 9 or 10

Biggles in Australia by W.E. Johns - Biggles & Co. defeat a conspiracy of dangerous agitators in the Australian outback. Age 10 and up

A Final Reckoning: A Tale of Bush Life in Australia by G.A. Henty - online here. About age 10 and up. Free Kindle version at time of writing

Doctor Hunger & Captain Thirst by Meredith Hooper - AO Year 5; excellent book on early Australian explorers

Margaret Catchpole (1762-1819) by Nance Donkin, AO Year 5

River Rivals by Ian Mudie, AO Year 5
The Singing Wire: The Story of the Overland Telegraph by Eve Pownall, AO year 5

The Switherby Pilgrims by Eleanor Spence - AO Year 5 Term 1 (1800 - 1840)

Jamberro Road - the sequel to the above book & set five years later

Verity of Sydney Town by Ruth C. Williams - AO Year 5 Term 1

Walkabout by James Vance Marshall - read aloud for all ages or AO Year 6

Sun on the Stubble by Colin Thiele - AO Year 6 but I recommend it be read aloud & slightly edited; great family read aloud.

I Can Jump Puddles by Alan Marshall - AO Year 6 but recommend read aloud & some editing or leave it until mid highschool

Golden Fiddles by Mary Grant Bruce - AO Year 6

To the Wild Sky by Ivan Southall

Ash Road by Ivan Southall - recommended for Year 6 but Southall's books are very realistic so perhaps pre-read unless you're going to read it aloud.

February Dragon by Colin Thiele - this is about a bushfire someone carelessly started. Preview for sensitive children - my son thought it was too sad when he was about 12 or 13

A Fortunate Life by A.B. Facey - recommend read aloud; excellent book

We of the Never-Never (1908) by Mrs Aeneas Gunn - read aloud

Buccaneer Explorer: William Dampier's Voyages - AO year 9; good for Geography

The Endeavour Journal of Joseph Banks - AO Year 9 but could be used with a younger student  

Pastures of the Blue Crane by H. F. Brinsmead - about age 15 and up

Robbery Under Arms by Ralph Boldrewood - AO Year 10; great boy book

My Brilliant Career by Miles Franklin - fits in AO Year 10; how not to treat a man...the heroine needed a good kick in the pants, but I liked how Franklin wrote this.

Follow the Rabbit-Proof Fence by Doris Pilkington/Nugi Garimara - Years 10/11

Currency Lass by Margaret Reeson - lovely account of a young Christian woman born in Australia and growing up in the convict colony of Sydney. My girls read this book and the one below when they were in their mid-teens.

Certain Lives by Margaret Reeson - the story of three generations of Australian women; AO Years 10 and 11.

I Find Australia by William Hatfield - AO Year 11; Geography

Generations of Men by Judith Wright - it's been awhile since I read this but it deals with the author's ancestors, early settlers in Australia. Wright was also a poet and it shows in her writing which is lyrical & lovely. My eldest daughter read it when she was around 16 years of age.

The Golden Quest by A.C.V. Bligh - a narrative of the pioneer days in the north and west of Australia. A good book for boys about "Roaring days of the West Australian Gold Rushes & life in the pearling industry." AO Year 11; geography

Australia's Prime Ministers From Barton to Howard by Brian Carroll - Australian Government for highschool

* The following are for mature readers - upper highschool & beyond as they contain adult themes *

For the Term of His Natural Life by Marcus Clarke - brutal but realistic. Fits AO Year 10  chronologically but I'd leave it for a more mature reader.

The Secret River by Kate Grenville - I'm not recommending this book at all, but am putting it here as it's used in some schools in their curriculum for upper highschool. There is a study guide here that will give an idea of some of the contents.

A Town Like Alice by Nevil Shute - set during and after WW2

On the Beach by Nevil Shute - a post-nuclear scenario set in southern Australia (scroll down the page)

The Rowland Sinclair series of crime novels by Sulari Gentill are a great way to pick up some 1930's Australian history:

A Few Right Thinking Men
A Decline in Prophets
Miles Off Course

Asia Pacific

Maori and Settler: A Tale of the Maori Wars by G.A. Henty. Age 10 years and up. Free for Kindle last time I looked. Also here.

Little Brother by Allan Baillie (Cambodia) AO Year 6

In Search of the Castaways by Jules Verne (also known as Captain Grant's Children) set in Sth America, Australia and New Zealand

Killing Fields, Living Fields by Don Cormack - adult or pre-read for late highschool. Poignant, exceptional writing, and as you would expect, horrific in places, but it is ultimately a story of hope and rising up from the ashes.


  1. Thank-you for posting this Carol. Its very helpful to have your lists to refer to.

    1. My pleasure, Zoe. Good to know it's helpful.