Sunday, 9 October 2011

Genealogy notes 5-9 Oct 2011 genealogy seminars & heritage tourism

Thursday and Friday we spent travelling through the Yarra Valley and we finally did a wine tasting at Helen's Hill Winery and had a three course lunch at Vines Restaurant (this was all part of my partner's retirement gift from his workmates). We couldn't share our experience as there was no phone coverage (at least not for our provider) and on Thursday night we stayed in a motel (just 2 km outside a nearby town) and I couldn't even access the Telstra network with my laptop modem. It made me realise (yet again) how hard it is for rural/regional people to have the same type of easy access that those in more metropolitan areas enjoy.

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!


  1. Hi Shauna,
    I have a research interest in Tocumwal c1880s-c1920s. I have been to the Aerodrome Museum and have a copy of a local history book which was produced a couple of years ago. I have been through the town on several other occasions but not stopped there very long. The museum only seemed to deal with the WWII era. Do you know which historical society covers the Tocumwal area and whether they would have any information about the town, particularly from the c1880s-1890s? I am looking for information about my Great Great Grandfather's sister and her husband/s. I have found one mention of her in the local history book in a transcript of an 1891 directory in which she is referred to as 'Mrs Eliza Harvey, Fancy Goods Store'. A cousin said the store was 'on a corner' and was later a hairdressers. I'd love to know more about it, but I'm not sure to which (if any) historical society I should write.

  2. Shauna, I do enjoy reading of your travels and hearing abiut the various rural areas you visit.
    Thanks for allowing us to share your experiences

  3. Thanks Geniaus and Aillin for the comments. I have been asking about which historical society covers the area but it seems the town has a number of individual museums but no central society. Will keep checking while up here. Shauna

  4. Hi Aillin just found that the Cobram Genealogical Group cover the Tocumwal area - I'm speaking at their meeting on Wednesday night if you can get some details to me I will ask them. Shauna

  5. Thanks Shauna, I would really appreciate this and would be willing to send a research fee to the Cobram group if they can help.
    I am researching my Great Great Grandfather's sister, Bridget Elizabeth (Eliza/Lizzie) Fullerton (b1846-d1923).
    She was married 3 times; first in 1863 at Inglewood, Vic. to Gerald Thomas Fenelon. Her second husband was John Harvey, a carpenter from Tocumwal. They married on 8 Aug 1884 at the Bible Christian Parsonage, Numurkah, Vic. John (b.c.1836 Suffolk, England) was a widower at the time and he stated that he had 3 living children and 5 dead. I have found he was previously married to Anne McSween at Moulamein NSW in 1862. Anne died in 1874 at Deniliquin NSW. I have found the names of four of their children (Jessie b.1864, Francis b.c.1867, Donald b.c.1868 and John b.1872,d.1872.). Jessie married Benjamin Rollston in 1904 at Barooga and had a child Hester Rollston b.1905 Tocumwal.
    I have not yet discovered what became of John Harvey. The story I have heard is that he 'drowned in the Murray river'.
    Lizzie married for the 3rd time at the Church of England, Numurkah, in 1898 to bootmaker John Thomas Houghton from Tocumwal. From various directories I have seen that John Houghton later had a wine saloon/boarding house in Tocumwal. He died in Geelong in 1918 but his place of residence was still listed as Tocumwal. Lizzie died at her sister's house in Ascot Vale, Vic. in 1923. At the time she was 'late of Tocumwal'.
    Thanks again and all the best for the meeting on Wednesday.