The next day we travelled up to Lake Eildon which has spent the last few years with less than 5% water capacity but is now back up to 98% capacity. It is really amazing to see all the water again and hard to believe when you drive over the bridge that there was no water there for years. We weren't the only tourists so hopefully all those businesses will get back to normal, especially with the summer season approaching.
So after two days 'in the wilderness' I was glad to arrive at our friend's place at Yarrawonga and again have access to phone and emails etc. While up this way, we have been exploring some of the food and history trails and on Saturday we went to Tocumwal on the Murray River where I was surprised to learn the town (first established in 1862) was the site of the largest aerodrome in the Southern Hemisphere during World War II. As well as Australians, the base also saw over 7,000 Americans and today it is hard to imagine all that activity and people. I found the photographs and other memorabilia at the Tocumwal Historic Aerodrome Museum fascinating and it is definitely worth the 'gold coin' entry donation.
For car and caravan buffs, Chrystie's Museum is worth a visit and I was particularly interested in the early caravans although there was a whole range of other memorabilia in display cases.
If you want the best strawberry pancakes ever then don't go past the Big Strawberry (yes I can add another 'Big' icon to my list of places visited). I don't think I have ever seen so many varieties of strawberry jam or wines and liquers for that matter. I settled on fig and ginger to take home.
But we are not up here just to see the sights and yesterday I spent talking to members of GMAGS (Goulburn Murray Association of Genealogical Societies). While most people were from local societies (within an hour's drive or so) I did meet one couple who had travelled down from Deniliquin. My three talks on mining ancestors, online newspapers and caring for family archives were all well received with plenty of time for questions after each talk. There was also lots of discussion over morning and afternoon tea and lunch.
As a surprise, I had bought along some lucky door prizes which included some copies of Inside History magazine (which is about to celebrate it's first anniversary) and also some copies of Australian Family Tree Connections and some genealogy journals from the Genealogical Society of Victoria and the Australian Institute of Genealogical Studies. Jan Parker was the lucky recipient of a copy of the digital scrapbooking program My Memories. I know Jan is a keen scrapbooker so I will look forward to hearing what she thinks of digital scrapbooking.
When talking about genealogy seminars in rural areas, you simply also have to mention the catering. People brought along plates of food to share and there is nothing better than home cooked slices and cakes. Do it yourself ham or chicken salad rolls for lunch went well with plenty for everyone. There was a $10 charge by GMAGS for the day and this included lunch and the talks so great value.
I again highlighted the value of social media and especially blogging as a way of easily telling their family stories so it will be interesting to see how many explore this option. They started to see the possibilities when I explained the various family connections I have made after distant relatives found my blogs via Google.
I have one more talk at Cobram on Wednesday night - it's on military ancestors so I'm looking forward to that. We should also get the opportunity to explore some more local towns but haven't decided which ones yet. I still have those book reviews to do but its hard to sit here at the laptop when you know there is so much history out there, just waiting to be explored!