After checking in, I went down to the Migration Museum for a quick meeting with Catherine curator of their exhibition Who Are We Now? and to see how they had used one of my blogs on my Irish ancestors. The social media aspect of the exhibition was quite small but when it eventually moves online there will be more scope for online involvement. Still it was a thrill to see a page from my website blog and a small quote on why I think blogging our family histories is so important. I had an even quicker look at the other non permanent exhibition outlining the life of a Japanese woman (Portrait of My Life: Tomono Wynn's Story) and it was a really interesting way to tell a person's life story. In the same building is Behind the Wall, the story of the Adelaide Destitute Asylum and some of the unfortunate people who lived there at various times. I've always been fascinated by asylums (several ancestors were inmates for various reasons) and am always drawn to photos and stories of inmates - there really is so much history inside asylum walls (same for prisons where even more of my ancestors resided)!
From there it was a quick dash back to the registration centre at the Adelaide Convention Centre where I collected my congress satchel and its various goodies (I always love taking it back to the hotel room and spreading the contents out to see what I've got). It was also a chance to have a quick look at the exhibitor stalls although some were still busy setting up and there were lots of faces I knew so quick chats here and there. One of the advantages of staying close to a congress venue is that you can duck back to your room and leave the satchel before heading back over for the welcome reception. The other advantage is that you generally run into other congress attendees, and I met lots of people in the hotel lift as well!
I'm not sure how many people are attending the congress, but there were lots of people at the reception and I managed to say hello to old friends from my former home towns of Brisbane and Canberra, while catching up with people from current home town Melbourne and Sydney, not to mention Adelaide and Perth. I didn't see anyone I knew from Darwin or Tasmania but with so many people it's hard to know who's there and who isn't. I love conference attendance lists so that you can find out who's there and actively look for them but so far I haven't seen one for congress.
While there were nibbles and soft drinks at the reception, I joined Kiwi friends (New Zealand for American readers) Seonaid (Auckland City Libraries) and Robyn for dinner and international speaker David Holman (from Cornwall and Chairman of the Federation of Family History Societies) also joined us. Over a wide ranging discussion I enjoyed a soft shell chilli crab which was to die for and washed down by an equally good Margaret River semillion sav blanc. David made us all envious when he brought out his iPad to show us various apps and tell us about his travel plans while here in Australia.
Despite a much later night than I usually keep, I still woke up at 5.30am this morning all eager to get to Congress. The official opening is at 9.00am with an address by John Bannon AO, Chair of the National Archives of Australia Advisory Committee and former Premier of South Australia. At the reception last night, Geniaus (aka Jill) handed out her blogger beads (an innovation she brought back from Rootstech 2012) to a number of us who will be tweeting and blogging about the congress over the next four days. The Twitter hashtag is #AFFHO12 and I will try to pull some of the blogs together in this Diary and I will use AFFHO12 as a tag for this blog as well.
I always enjoy the congress which only happens every three years, and this one already seems bigger with its four days and four concurrent sessions plus plenary sessions, but there are congress proceedings so for all those talks I miss in person, I can still read the paper. Although often it's not quite the same but you can't be everywhere at once! And if I don't hurry up, I'll miss the opening. Stay tuned for congress updates and perhaps even breaking news!