Hawker Vans: the corner shop on wheels

In this program students develop historical thinking by exploring the important role of hawkers in early Australia.

Available at the Museum or can come to you as a school incursion.

Suitable for years R-7.

This education program is based around the ‘Hawker Vans’ exhibition at the National Motor Museum. In the early twentieth century hawkers connected rural Australian towns with cities by carrying and selling goods such as clothing, kitchen utensils and lollies. The first hawkers traveled by foot, horse or camel, but with the introduction of motor vehicles hawkers were able to cover larger distances and carry heavier loads.

In a fun and hands on activity, students will look at historical objects as sold by hawkers and carry out a simulated journey where they prepare their vehicle for travel, load up their wares and then spruik their wares to the other students from a mini scale model hawker van.

Course content

Key outcome: develop historical thinking

This learning inquiry explores the way of life of people who migrated to Australia since Federation and their contributions to Australia’s economic and social development. In learning about Australia as a nation, students compare a range of sources to determine points of view. Students will be presented with both primary and secondary sources of information which they will be required to consider carefully and make informed decisions.

Students look at the static and interactive components of the Hawker Vans exhibit within the museum. They will move to the classroom area where they will be directed to engage with a number of practical activities as part of a team. The learning inquiry focuses on two vehicles and a range of associated static and interactive displays.

The 1926 Graham Brothers G-Boy used by Hassan (Harry) Monsoor during his hawking days in far north South Australia between 1928 and 1954.

The 1936 Dodge LE30 used by Syd Graeber during his hawking days through the Northern Adelaide Hills and Murray Basin districts following the great depression between 1936 and 1966.

Notes in this resource provide additional historical information for the teacher.

Australian Curriculum Links: Please refer to the ACARA Curriculum document (version 8.3) F-6/7 HASS for further details.


YEAR R to 7 HASS Inquiry and Skills

  • Pose questions about past and present objects, people, places and events (ACHASSI001, ACHASSI018, ACHASSI034)
  • Compare objects from the past with those from the present and consider how places have changed over time (ACHASSI006, ACHASSI023, ACHASSI039)
  • Pose questions to investigate people, events, places and issues (ACHASSI052, ACHASSI073)
  • Locate and collect information and data from different sources, including observations (ACHASSI053, ACHASSI074)
  • Locate and collect relevant information and data from primary and secondary sources (ACHASSI095, ACHASSI123)
  • Examine information to identify different points of view and distinguish facts from opinions (ACHASSI056, ACHASSI077)
  • Examine primary and secondary sources to determine their origin and purpose (ACHASSI098, ACHASSI126)
  • Draw simple conclusions based on analysis of information and data (ACHASSI058, ACHASSI079)
  • Interact with others with respect to share points of view (ACHASSI059, ACHASSI080)
  • Evaluate evidence to draw conclusions (ACHASSI101, ACHASSI129)
  • Work in groups to generate responses to issues and challenges (ACHASSI102, ACHASSI130)

YEAR R to 7 English

  • Read and understand a range of different types of texts that explore imaginative and informative topics
  • Engage in discussions to share ideas and information, communicating clearly with others
  • Learn information or ideas from texts