Carting hay Nebel's FarmProgram overview

Our schools program provides the opportunity for students to learn about early rural life on the outskirts of Melbourne for a group of German Immigrants who arrived in the 1850’s and settled in Westgarthtown.

By visiting this unique farmhouse with its original buildings and garden, children can learn how people lived in the past and how landscapes have changed over time. Built in the 1850s it is significant for its substantially intact collection of objects from the period, which together with the original garden allow the students to enter a time capsule.

The program provides teachers with curriculum resources based on the Victorian curriculum. These consist of three primary school inquiry units available for Levels 1 through to 6.




Ziebell's Farmhouse and garden

The Pioneer Precinct

Westgarthtown is an historic dairy farming settlement sixteen kilometres north of Melbourne established in 1850 by German and Wendish immigrants. Although now located within the residential suburbs of Thomastown and Lalor in the City of Whittlesea, many of Westgarthtown's outstanding bluestone heritage buildings and structures still survive. These include Ziebell's Farmhouse (c.1850-51), Victoria's oldest German immigrant building; a picturesque Lutheran Cemetery (1850); and Australia's oldest operating Lutheran Church (1856).

Ziebell’s Farmhouse

Ziebell’s Farmhouse is Westgarthtown’s Cultural Heritage Centre. It is owned by the City of Whittlesea and operated by the Friends of Westgarthtown Inc. It consists of a heritage farmhouse, associated outbuildings and heritage garden. It is listed on the Victorian Heritage Register, houses a museum accredited by the Australian Museseums and Gallery Association (Victoria) and is an interpretive centre for visitors to Westgarthtown. The centre is currently open on Tuesdays and Sundays as well as for organised group tours and special events.


Westgarthtown's history >      Historic sites >







Ziebell's Farmhouse displaysTEACHING OVERVIEW

This program explores farming life for immigrants in early Melbourne using a settlement established by immigrants who arrived in the 1850’s from Germany. Students are provided with insight into the past through a tour of the paddocks surrounding the house and church, a study of the types of buildings, and surrounding geology which provided stones for building.


The house, garden and outbuildings reveal how the Ziebell family have lived and worked here from that time. Understanding what it must have been like to live without electricity or running water, and with items used then in the kitchen, pantry and farm buildings, children gain a deeper understanding of family life in that era. Students will be able to consider change and continuity over time through work, entertainment and daily life of the Ziebell family and the natural environment surrounding this precinct.


Students will also learn about why and how German immigrants travelled to Melbourne and the steps they took to build and farm the land. The hardships and their interaction with the land and the people who already lived here are all researched in these units.


The curriculum outcomes and inquiry questions should be seen as a framework, a way to structure the central concepts of the visit linked to this particular program. The tour leader may follow the children’s interests and expand on a particular issue during the tour. The primary concern is that the students have an engaged learning experience that is both entertaining and informative.








Pastor Herman Herlitz

History and Geography

Levels 1 & 2

Identify examples of continuity and change in family life in the local area by comparing past and present (VCHHC056).

Levels 3 & 4

How the community has changed and remained the same over time and the role of people of diverse backgrounds have played in the development and the character of the local community (VCHHC068 & ACHASSK063).

Levels 5 & 6

Identify and explain the causes and effects of European settlement and exploration (VCHHC070 & ACHASSK109). The role that people of diverse backgrounds have played in the development and character of the local community (VCHHK074 & ACHASSK137)


Curriculum resources > 






Friends of Westgarthtown logo


© Friends of Westgarthtown Inc.


City of Whittlesea logo


This website has been made possible through the City of Whittlesea's cultural heritage grants program.