Sunday 30 December 2012

Genealogy Notes 25-31 Dec 2012 Sailing in Ancestral Footsteps

Well the Christmas week has gone remarkably quickly and it's now New Year's Eve. It's been a great week catching up with family and friends and I've spent a lot of time reflecting on my Scottish great great great grandparents who oyster farmed here at Toorbul back in the 1870s. We did the sunset cruise on the Bribie Island Ferryman and sailed right past their property which is the first time I've had a good look at it from the water. It still looks like it must have done back then with no development although the land is for sale with a multi million dollar price tag for future development. However the whole of Pumicestone Passage is within a Marine Conservation Park so perhaps that development may never happen.

All I know now is that it was a fantastic trip up the Passage past Toorbul, Donnybrook and Mission Point before we turned around after a spectacular view of the Glass House Mountains at sunset. The whole time I kept thinking that they too must have sailed up and down the passage, fished and crabbed and tended their oyster leases. There's not a lot of people there now and there would have been a lot less back then. It's times like this that I really wish we could travel back in time and meet our ancestors, rather than recreate their lives through various government documents.

The further up the Passage you travel there is less evidence of people and more and more bird life not to mention the lack of noise except for the odd boat or two. Even the dolphins turned up which was exciting for those tourists on board. I'm a bit blase now as we get to see them most days from our kitchen window!

I managed to review and update my genealogy aspirations for 2013 and you can read about them here. I was really pleased with all the comments and encouragement from my blogger friends. Since then my friend Geniaus has thrown out another one of her geneameme challenges Accentuate the Positives 2012 which makes us look at all the positives in our genealogy year rather than all the things we might not have done or finished. As usual I can't resist these, so I will have to put my thinking cap on and see if I can answer her 20 questions (positively).

I've been happily reading Issue 3 of Circa: the Journal of Professional Historians which is an annual publication by the Professional Historians Association of Victoria and the Australian Council of Professional Historians Associations. Each issue gets better and better and there are some great articles highlighting the work of historians today. I've always maintained my membership of the Queensland branch, perhaps I knew I would come back some day!

I've also applied to join the Cornish Association of Queensland rather than renew my membership of the Cornish Association of Victoria. Their meetings are in Brisbane but it's not that far, especially if it's during the day. I'm still fascinated by the Cornish culture and once I get into my new house in January I want to start practicing making the Cornish pastry recipe I learnt at the Cornish Cultural Celebration in Shoalhaven back in October, hosted by the Southern Sons of Cornwall.

My January 2013 issue of Queensland Family History Society's email newsletter Snippets arrived in my inbox this morning so starting a new habit (I hope) I have read it already and noted all the helpful news and hints. Back issues are on their website here. I find with email newsletters and journals I put them into a To Read Folder but then don't always find the time to read them. A bit like the physical To Read Pile which I now have in a wardrobe. So my new habit is always to read/scan something before I file it away. Wish me luck with that one!!

Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter is another one that I regularly try to read and if you don't keep up with that on a daily basis it can get away from you. Although a lot of the news is US or Canada related, it is a great way to keep up with what's happening in the genealogy world.

My other regular reads include the UK Lost Cousins monthly newsletter and Irish Lives Remembered which is a much bigger read. I also get the newsletters from FindMyPast and Ancestry to try and keep up with all the new material coming online. That also applies to the enews from Public Record Office Victoria, State Records NSW and Queensland State Archives which are the three main archives I regularly research in.

On the eve of a new year I would like to take the opportunity to thank all my regular readers and to wish them good luck with their ancestor hunting in 2013. Now I'm off to think about that geneameme challenge!

Sunday 23 December 2012

Genealogy notes 8 -24 Dec 2012 - Christmas thoughts

Regular readers will know that we have been very busy buying our new house on Bribie Island and getting ready for move in day on 14 January plus organising ourselves for Christmas this year. To make it all more complicated I had a very painfall fall in the bathroom just over a week ago. I slipped on wet tiles and down I went so this Diary has been delayed and I've spent quite a few hours visiting doctors and getting x-rays. No permanent damage luckily just stiff and sore.

I had thought I might get lots of genealogy reading done but the pain killers seem to put me to sleep which is probably a good thing but it isn't reducing my reading pile by much. I was excited to learn that Inside History magazine has a new digital only annual volume out so I quickly downloaded their app and my copy for a very modest price. I still like reading a paper copy I think but reading it on the IPad was almost as good and easier than trying to read on the laptop.

One thing I did have to finish after my fall was the 6th instalment of my Missing Down Under series for Irish Lives Remembered which is a great free e-magazine for Irish genealogy. All previous issues are available online so you can catch up if you haven't previously seen it.

I was going to review my 2012 genealogy resolutions as I do every year but that hasn't happened yet. It was almost impossible this year to achieve my goals after our sudden decision to sell up and leave Melbourne. I think I need smaller more achievable type goals or break them down into monthly goals. Otherwise I'm never going to get all my old photos scanned, organised and listed!

Happily I did manage to contribute to Cassmob's Christmas geneameme and my contribution is here. I like these kind of challenges as they make you think back and dredge up long forgotten memories.

My seminar with Sue Reid on digital newspapers for the Queensland Family History Society in February is almost sold out which is fantastic. Obviously a popular topic and everyone is keen to get researching in 2013.

I've accepted an invitation to speak on the 4th Unlock the Past genealogy cruise which is going to Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Hobart. It is doing two things I've always wanted to do - sailing through Bass Strait and doing a run from Hobart to Sydney (just like the Boxing Day race only in reverse). Plus there are some exciting overseas speakers too so I wouldn't want to miss this one.

Well I've been sitting for too long so it's time to wish everyone a safe and happy Christmas with their families and loved ones. I'm spending it with my mother and other family members in Brisbane and it will be traditional as Mum thinks that is the only way to have a good Christmas. I'll just have to have the prawns and crabs on Boxing Day! Take care and enjoy yourselves until next time.

Friday 7 December 2012

Genealogy notes 19 Nov - 7 Dec 2012 - Canberra news!

The last couple of weeks have been a blur. We moved into the rental unit and carried our stuff up all 27 steps but at least there is more room than the caravan. We finally found our 'dream' house and pending the pest and building inspection on Monday, we will settle on 14 January and then we will have the awesome job of unpacking our two container loads of 'stuff' now in storage in Brisbane. I have found it really hard writing articles for Inside History Magazine and Irish Lives Remembered without easy access to my own research files. It's not all in my database!!

We are getting into the swing of island life and attended the Blessing of the Surf at Woorim last weekend and have been sampling the various restaurants and clubs on the Island. Somehow when you are not in your own home, it seems that you are always on holidays even though we are not! The weather has been hot in south east Queensland but we always seem to have a breeze and are a few degrees cooler than Brisbane. However that didn't prepare me for two days in Canberra where it was 3 degrees in the mornings and snowing on the Alps.

Getting to and from Canberra was a bit of a marathon with the distance and time differences but it was all worthwhile. I attended the first meeting of the National Archives of Australia's advisory committee for the centenary of World War One. They really need an acronym for that! It was good to hear what they have planned between now and April 2014. The main project is a new website and the working title is Wartime Australians which will build on the existing Mapping Our Anzacs website but will include a lot more records than just the service dossiers. There will be lots of opportunities for individuals to input their own stories as it progresses so stay tuned.

As part of the overall briefing we were reminded about the various features of the Mapping Our Anzacs website and also a brief look at their Destination Australia website (which I first heard about back in August at the State Library of Victoria's Family History Feast day - you can hear Mark Brennan's talk here).

One of the hazards of this gypsy life I have been living is that I have missed all sorts of family history news and about a month ago NAA launched their ArcHive project which is where they have digitised accession consignment lists to increase access to collections. There are the usual OCR problems so they are asking the public to help them transcribe the lists (a bit like correcting newspaper texts on Trove) and quite a few people have already signed up. Another worthy project to be associated with and they have prizes!

It was strange being back in the Parkes building and attending a meeting in the Bruce Room and it brought back lots of good memories of my time with NAA - if only those winters weren't so cold! I also ran into a few old colleagues and found out whose doing what these days.

The other meeting I managed to squeeze in during my brief time in Canberra was with the President of the Australasian Federation of Family History Organisations (AFFHO) and we chatted about National Family History Week (NFHW) which is in August each year. As the new co-ordinator I have written a discussion paper which highlights some issues and which I hope will get lots of comments and feedback. An edited version has been published in the December 2012 issue of NewsFlash and can be read here.

If you haven't yet liked the NFHW Facebook page you can do so here.

Historic Newspapers UK invited me to trial one of their newspapers so after some thought I selected the date my  GG grandfather Robert White died in Wiltshire and as I like illustrated newspapers I picked one of those. I don't expect to find any reference to him but it is just after the end of World War One and I thought it would be good to see what the news was at that time. The copy arrived quickly and I haven't had a chance to open the box but I might put it under the Christmas tree as a present to myself - I suspect none of the other family members would think of a present like that for me!

With most of January taken up with our move into the new house, I have started to give some thought to the talks I am giving on the next Unlock the Past 3rd genealogy cruise which leaves in February 2013. I'm already excited about going on the Voyager of the Seas as I have seen it on the news and current affairs programs not to mention the newspapers. So that plus the exciting genealogy program lined up means it will be another great trip.

Finally I've gotten behind with my KIVA Genealogists for Families project news because my email program was filing all the updates in the Spam folder. I've got quite a lot of repayments which means I can now take out new loans and help others. If you would like to join the project team click here for my invite link.

With Christmas fast approaching I'm not sure how much genealogy I will manage but at least I can now stop looking at real estate sites. So that must mean some free time! Until next installment, happy researching.

Saturday 17 November 2012

Genealogy notes 10-18 Nov 2012 - still house hunting

Well the last Diary's wishful thinking hasn't happened, so much for positive thinking! We still haven't made an offer on a house, there is always something not quite right or we can't agree on it. We have a few that interest us but still have to see a few more and of course, new homes come on the market all the time.

Schoolies' week is upon us and thankfully Bribie Island is not like Surfers Paradise but we did see an interesting  rite of passage for Year 12 students here. They all jump off the Bribie bridge into Pumicestone Passage in their school uniforms! So glad we didn't have that type of activity when I was finishing school. I don't think we did anything and I started work the following week.

As school is finishing for the year this means that people will be starting to take their Christmas holidays and as the case back in September, caravan parks are booked out and we have to move from here. Just when we were wondering where we might end up, a friend's friend had another friend who is trying to sell their holiday unit here on Bribie. It hasn't sold so far, so we have arranged to rent it for the same weekly rate of the caravan park over Christmas New Year which is really great. They didn't want any long term tenants so it suits them as well.

So next weekend we will be moving into this two bedroom unit on the top floor of a unit complex which overlooks the bridge, and just to the right are the majestic Glass House Mountains and on both sides is Pumicestone Passage. We should have a great view of the New Year's Eve fireworks! Of course to get to the top floor, there are three flights of stairs which might be a bit of a struggle carrying all our gear up there (and back down again) but there is also a swimming pool and it's close to shops.

It also means that we will be able to leave our laptops set up and it will be easier for me to pop online throughout the day without having to set everything up each time. I sincerely hope they sell their unit but I hope it's not before we buy a house and move! I have had enough moving for now.

My discussion paper and draft strategic plan for AFFHO and National Family History Week 2013 was discussed at their Council meeting during the week and as I suspected, it generated a lot of discussion, some for and some against. I've now been asked to write something for the December NewsFlash and get feedback from member societies and others. This delays my plans to start advertising NFHW but this is a debate worth having I think. Watch out for the December issue and please encourage your society to comment!

I've booked my flight to Canberra for the NAA's advisory committee for the centenary of WW1 meeting and I'm hoping to catch up with some Canberra friends too. Due to daylight saving I have to go down the day before so this gives me more time and is a little less tiring than a same day flight.

I'm almost finished another article for Irish Lives Remembered and Inside History Magazine have asked me to write another feature story for them so that's exciting. I like writing as long as the ideas flow, which is most times. But sometimes I sit and look at the screen waiting for inspiration! A long term research client has asked me to do some more work so hopefully I'll start to get back into a more normal routine soon. Ending on another note of wishful thinking as the Christmas season starts to speed towards us.

I hope everyone else is doing more genealogy than me! Till next time.

Thursday 8 November 2012

Genealogy notes 31 Oct - 9 Nov 2012 travelling again

Since the last Diary entry in Lake Macquarie, NSW we have continued travelling north and stopped in Grafton overnight. It was the Jacaranda Festival fortnight so the streets were just a mass of purple flowers everywhere and a reminder that I was about to turn another year older! From Grafton we headed back to Queensland and had to remember to turn our clocks back an hour as there is no daylight saving here.

I had forgotten how early the sun rises and it is hard to block out the sunlight in a caravan so I'm waking up super early! Hopefully my body will get used to the different time zone although I do love beautiful sunrises. Of course we have to remember that the sun also sets earlier! As Melbourne Cup was fast approaching along with that special day of the year, I wanted to spend it on Bribie Island the place I first learnt to fish back in the mid 1960s. The Bribie Island Bridge was built in 1963 so it's celebrating it's 50th next year.

Pumicestone Passage has always been a special place for me but it wasn't till I started researching my family history in 1977 that I discovered that my GGG grandparents John and Helen Carnegie settled at Toorbul in the late 1870s. John was an oysterman so perhaps that's partly why I'm such an avid lover of seafood and fishing! For some stories on the Carnegie see my website My Families page.

Anyway getting back to our travels, my other half has also fallen in love with this part of Queensland. We've been here a few times but only for day visits but once you get used to island life (and a much slower pace) it seems hard to leave. We've now been in the Bongaree Caravan Park for 9 days and have just booked for another 2 weeks but sadly we have to leave mid December as it is totally booked out for the Christmas holiday period. I hope Mum wants a couple of visitors for Christmas!

We've also been looking at lots of houses for sale on the island but getting exactly what we want is not that easy although some houses are coming close. I suspect it will be a compromise and we make changes post purchase. So stand by for exciting news re our new home.

On the exciting news front, I have been asked to join the National Archives of Australia's advisory committee for the centenary of World War One 1914-1918 which is a great honour and I'm looking forward to participating in the committee. The first meeting is in Canberra in December so it will also be a chance to catch up with some Canberra friends too not to mention my old colleagues at NAA.

I also managed to send off my discussion paper and draft strategic plan for National Family History Week 2013 to the AFFHO committee who are meeting this month. I didn't have as much time to get that together as I would have liked but there is lots of scope for collaboration as planning progresses into 2013. I'm also pleased to see that people are still hitting the Like button on the NFHW Facebook page.

I even managed to finish another article for Irish Lives Remembered - their free online e-magazine has some great genealogy articles in it. Don't forget to look at back issues also available online.

Now that I know we will be here for a few weeks I'm planning to tackle the virtual mountain of e-newsletters I've filed for reading not to mention the blogs I haven't read. I'm also hoping to do a family blog for Remembrance Day but it's a bit tricky with all my family history records still in storage. Hopefully I have enough information in my database to do that. I also want to start participating in the Trove Tuesday blogs and start regularly tuning in to Inside History Magazine's regular Thursday night Inside History Magazine Facebook session. I missed last night as our days seem to blur together especially if I don't log on everyday.

Finally I will just mention that I attended the Bribie Island Family History Interest Group meeting yesterday which is an informal group which meets twice a month to help each other and to share information. Despite the new haircut and no makeup I was still recognised, perhaps it's the distinctive name (thanks Mum)! Anyway it was a warm welcome and a number of them had been to the Unlock the Past expo in Brisbane and even the seminar day we had in Nambour a few years ago with Elaine Collins from FindMyPast. There was even a lady who I knew from my time with the North Brisbane branch of the Genealogical Society of Queensland. So it really is a small world.

Although I've said it before I really do want to get back into the habit of doing these Diary updates more regularly and to make them more genealogy oriented. It should be easier now we are in one place for a few weeks. Wish me luck!

Monday 29 October 2012

Genealogy notes 26 - 30 Oct 2012 Cornish Cultural Celebration

I'm writing this Diary entry on the shores of Lake Macquarie near Swansea in NSW. We are on our way back up the NSW coast to Queensland. This is an area that we have always wanted to visit, but never quite made it before so we are here for two days to soak up its natural beauty and to visit some of the historic areas as well.

Our stopover in Nowra for the Cornish Cultural Celebration organised by the Southern Sons of Cornwall was great and we caught up with quite a few old friends as well. On the Friday afternoon there was a group whale watching tour on Jervis Bay and it had to be one of the coldest windiest days I've ever seen there. However that doesn't seem to bother the humpback whales and we spotted quite a few mothers with their calves. Towards the end of the tour one mother and calf entertained us with quite a few fluke slaps, tail waves and semi breaches as well as swimming around the boat. Having seen the whales at Hervey Bay many times, I have to say the whales seem to be more active in the warmer waters but then it was such a miserable day perhaps even the whales didn't want to jump up into that cold wind!

Saturday was the official start to the Celebration (of all things Cornish). As I have two great great grand parents who were Cornish, I've always had an interest in Cornwall and its differences with the rest of England. I've always wanted to go to the Cornish festival in South Australia (Kernewek Lowender) but something always seems to clash with it so when I heard about this one organised by my Shoalhaven friends, I couldn't resist.

After registering I raced off to my first session which was a Cornish cookery class where we were shown how to make 'real' pasties and I have the recipe! But I can't practice until we get another house and an oven! Sonia and Trina had precooked some pasties for us to taste and I can confirm that the smell and taste were spot on. For dessert they demonstrated what you can do with really soft bread rolls, cream and golden syrup. I hesitated to try them as it seemed a bit weird but I'm willing to try exotic foods overseas so this wasn't that different and I was pleasantly surprised at how good they tasted.

Then there was morning tea and delicious muffins followed by the official opening ceremony. My next session was Nigel Pengelly on Cornish Communications and Keeping in Touch with our Cousins in the 21st Century. As you may have guessed from the title this was based around social media especially blogs and I was able to have a chat with Nigel about this at lunch on Sunday.

After lunch on Saturday there was a bardic ceremony which I found fascinating. It was all in the Cornish language although an English overview and transcript was provided. It seemed strange watching the bards in their flowing blue robes against an Aussie bush backdrop. I really need to read up more on Cornish customs and rituals. The ceremony was followed by a photo opportunity and afternoon tea.

The Celebration dinner was at Worrigee House and of course dinner was a pastie and 4 vegies (not as good as Sonia's, less moist but then cooking for so many is more challenging) followed by apple/berry pudding or chocolate tarts both very nice. Dinner was accompanied by a Celtic concert with Scottish pipes and dancing (there was a fascinating session with the pipes in conjunction with a didgeridoo), an Irish harp, Manx and Welsh dancing, Cornish songs and dancing. All really interesting to watch and listen too. It was a much later night that we usually have.

The raffle was also drawn during the evening and as usual I didn't win but it was good to see that both Ancestry and FindMyPast donated subscriptions as well as Cornish World magazine. There were beautiful paintings and quilts as well for those not into family history.

Sunday's sessions started with a Cornish service followed by morning tea. My talk on Tracing Your Cornish Mining Ancestor was next (on my website Resources page, scroll down to Presentations) and it was well received and there was lots of follow up discussion over lunch. The last session I went to was Julie Wheeler talking about Famous and Infamous Cornish and this was an interesting and often funny look at people who I didn't even know were Cornish or of Cornish descent. Then there was a final afternoon tea and everyone started to say their goodbyes.

The only exhibitors were a Cornish sales table and I bought my Cornish by Descent badge and a Cornish tartan scarf so that I looked a bit Cornish (although most people assume that the Hicks part of me is Cornish but it isn't). Claire Gleeson was also there demonstrating her wiresmith jewelry with Cornish stones and these are really beautiful and I was very pleased to receive one of them as a speaker's gift.

While I didn't advance my Cornish genealogy I did learn a lot more about Cornwall and the place my two great great grandparents came from. I also caught up with a fellow GOON member and had a wide ranging chat with him. I chatted to lots of other people and heard all sorts of family stories which I encouraged people to capture by either recording or writing down.

It was a great weekend and the organisers are to be congratulated on a smooth running event and if they ever decide to do a 4th Cornish Cultural Celebration I'll be one of the first putting the date down in my calendar! I'm told there is a Cornish group in Queensland so I will have to look them up when I get home. But for now I'm in Lake Macquarie and this afternoon we are doing the touristy thing and I have a number of historic places I want to visit if we have the time to fit it all in! Safe travels as they say in caravan world.

Friday 26 October 2012

Genealogy Notes 19 - 25 Oct 2012 Ulladulla genealogy seminar

It's been another busy week. After leaving Nelligen we moved on to Bateman's Bay and then headed north to Ulladulla. After having no phones or internet at Nelligen we were looking forward to being in contact with the rest of the world again. However, we decided to stay at Burrill Lake just 4km south of Ulladulla and we were lucky enough to get a caravan site right on the lake's edge. So peaceful and the bird life is amazing (the daily 4pm feeding of the rainbow lorikeets has to be seen (and heard) to be believed) but sadly we still didn't have phone access (Vodafone) but at least my Telstra modem worked this time. To make phone calls we had to drive into Ulladulla and park at the top of the hills! And governments wonder why everyone wants to live in the capital cities!!

Milton Ulladulla Family History Society is only a small group so I wasn't expecting a big crowd but they were all super enthusiastic. My three talks on Demolishing Brick Walls, Warning Warning and Online Trends  were all well received with lots of questions during breaks and over lunch. As usual I have put the talks up on the Resources page of my website (scroll down to Presentations). Max was busy selling copies of my books and other Unlock the Past publications and as usual the home style catering was superb with the strawberry cream cake my favourite (and I don't usually have sweet things).

While in Ulladulla we caught up with Cathy Dunn, another Unlock the Past speaker and she has given me a copy of her new book Norfolk Island Deaths 1788 - 1814 (on CD) to review which should be interesting. Max's family were part of the first settlement at Norfolk Island so we both have an interest in that area and time period. This was also a reminder that I still have another couple of book reviews to do but hopefully once we get back to Queensland there will be more time!

Burrill Lake was so beautiful we ended up staying longer than planned and we arrived in Nowra two days ago. I always enjoy visiting the Shoalhaven area as my own ancestors were down this way in the late 1870s and 1880s before they decided to move north to Queensland. It's been rather cool, if not cold here and tomorrow we have a whale watching tour in Jervis Bay so I'm hoping for a nice day. Then we have the Cornish Cultural Celebration at the weekend but that will be the next Diary entry.

It's only a short Diary this time as I have heaps of emails to catch up on not to mention various social media platforms!  I've also been working on a report for AFFHO (Australasian Federation of Family History Organisations) about National Family History Week 2013 now that I am the new national co-ordinator. They meet in November so I'm keen to get some discussion going on how things might be done differently to get more national involvement. Don't forget to like the NFHW Facebook page if you haven't already!

I've just noticed that the next NSW & ACT genealogy conference is in Canberra 20 - 22 Sep 2013 which is a must for the calendar. Having lived in Canberra for a few years I have quite a few genealogy friends and colleagues there so it will be a great chance to catch up as well. I've subscribed to the conference email so looking forward to updates!

Until next time.

Monday 22 October 2012

Genealogy notes 14-18 Oct 2012 Denilquin & Wagga genealogy events

Trying to keep up with this Diary while travelling around in the caravan giving genealogy talks is harder than I thought and it doesn't help when you are in areas with no internet access. I had thought my new mobile wi fi would find a network anywhere but that doesn't seem to be the case but I am getting ahead of myself!

Back to the rest of the Deniliquin genealogy muster report. In the last Diary I gave a general overview and talked about the speakers. To me what really adds value to genealogy events is all the exhibitors who are usually a mix of commercial people and not for profit organisations who hold resources of interest to family historians and genealogists. There was a fantastic number of exhibitors in Deniliquin which kept people occupied for hours when they weren't attending talks or chatting to others.

There were the usual suspects including Gould Genealogy & History, Unlock the Past, State Records NSW, Public Record Office Victoria, State Library NSW, State Library of Victoria, Archival Access Victoria, Guild of One Name Studies, Inside History Magazine, Irish Wattle, Keith Johnson and the Biographical Database of Australia, Ballarat Heritage Services, Joy Murrin, Mostly Unsung, Pixel by Pixel, Creative Memories, Nepean Family History Society and their bookstall, Dave Evans and his Mining Accidents database, GSV's Scottish Ancestry Group, Openbook Howden and I always enjoy catching up with my friends from these various places. Local exhibitors included Charles Sturt University Regional Archives, genealogy and family history societies from Deniliquin, Shepparton, Echuca/Moama, Cobram, Yarrawonga, Bendigo, Swan Hill, Griffith, and Wagga Wagga plus the Huguenot Society of Australia, Yarkuwa Indigenous Knowledge Centre, Victorian GUM and Garry Baker a local author and publisher. Perhaps those who travelled the furtherest (apart from us) were the Convict Connections group from the Genealogical Society of Queensland.

Both and FindMyPast Australia & New Zealand had free access to participants over the two days and I didn't see those chairs vacant very often! There were also frequent demos of the Flip Pal mobile scanner and information on the next Unlock the Past genealogy cruise in February 2013. I hope I haven't forgotten anyone!

After a day of rest (catching up with things like the laundry) we then moved on to Wagga Wagga were I was giving a talk at the monthly meeting of the Wagga Wagga & District Family History Society. When I lived in Canberra I remember giving a few talks to this group and it was great to catch up with old friends again. It was also great to see that they had to get out more chairs as more people turned up than they were expecting - that always makes a speaker feel good. As usual my presentation It's Not All Online leaves people talking as I try to get people to think really broadly about all the possible places to look for ancestors. The talk is based on my research guide It's Not All Online: A guide to genealogy sources offline. There are versions of this talk on my website Resources page, scroll down to presentations.

As it was a late night we gave ourselves an extra day in Wagga Wagga to see the sights and simply relax. Then we were back on the road heading for Ulladulla where I am giving an all day seminar (3 talks). This drive took us past areas we knew quite well having lived in Canberra for a few years. We stopped and had lunch in Bungendore (made and toasted our own sandwiches, which is easy when travelling in a caravan) and so avoided our usual stop at the Braidwood Bakery!

We decided to stop for the night in Nelligen on the upper reaches of the Clyde River as it is one of those places we have always wanted to stop at but were always too busy to find the time. Tourist brochures describe it as the place where you can forget about your computer and your mobile phone and just soak up the natural beauty and watch the wildlife. Well that's certainly true as my you beaut mobile wi fi couldn't find a network anywhere!

The next day we made our way to Ulladulla but I'll save that for the next Diary entry. Until next time safe travelling!

Saturday 13 October 2012

Genealogy notes 4 - 13 Oct 2012 Deniliquin Genealogy Muster

Well we made the trek back down the Newell Highway for the 5th time in the last few months. Instead of staying at Toowoomba and Goondiwindi like we normally do, we did a bigger day and stayed at Yelarbon for two days. Yelarbon is a very tiny town not too far from Goondiwindi and used to be on the now closed railway line. The local council has set up the old railway station with toilets and a shower and the town are trying to attract caravaners and motorhomers to stay there for a night. At only $10 a night with power it's a good deal and it certainly brings revenue into the town as most of the people staying there also go to the shop, the pub for a great meal (we had one of the best ever pizzas), and buy petrol. A great way to try and keep some of these small country towns going!

From there we moved on to Narrabri again (so that we could have dinner again at the RSL's wonderful Outback Shack restaurant) and Forbes where the temperature dropped to zero and we realised we had left all our warmer clothes and blankets back in Queensland. Amazing the difference in temperatures within a few days of travel! From Forbes it was an easy drive on to Deniliquin for the genealogy muster.

On a sad note we came across an injured emu and called the local wildlife rescue who were very prompt coming out but unfortunately couldn't do anything for the poor emu. At least it didn't continue to suffer in the cold and wet conditions. The bird life out in western NSW is amazing and we have seen so many baby birds but of course not all make it. We've even discovered babblers who are really cute and have a very distinctive call.

But on to the muster. There was a welcome function for speakers and exhibitors at the council library on the Thursday night which was well attended and it was great to catch up with quite a few old friends and colleagues. The Friday was full on with speakers during the day and the evening plus all the exhibitors to wander around. The venue (Deniliquin RSL Club) was great as there was lots of room and even with a couple of hundred people each day it never seemed really crowded and with meals onsite it was a good choice. We even had dinner there both nights as it was two for the price of one if you ordered before 6pm and the meals were huge and great value.

In fact it was a very cheap genealogy event all round as it was only $10 to get in each day and you could attend all the talks if you wanted to. Ancestry and FindMyPast were available free for the two days and lots of the exhibitors had records and resources that you could use not to mention asking them questions. There were lucky door prizes every so often and the big raffle drawn at the end. I didn't win anything but then I never do so I wasn't too disappointed.

I went to Joy Roy's talk on Scottish emigration which was a wide ranging historical account of why the Scots left their country which was interesting but I prefer talks which have a more direct relevance to my own research. From searching in Scottish newspapers I know that my Carnegie ancestors came to Queensland because the Emigration Commissioner had been over in Scotland telling everyone about the free acres of land they would get if they came to Queensland. It was a deal they couldn't refuse!

I had heard Mark Grealy from Archival Access Victoria before so I wandered around the exhibitors before heading to lunch with some Yarrawonga friends. After lunch it was Rosemary Kopittke on the world collection of FindMyPast which I heard in Townsville the previous week so I skipped that one too and spent time talking to David Evans from the Guild of One Name Studies (GOONS). I got so caught up in our chat that I missed John Cann's talk on court and prison records held at State Records NSW. However I did end up joining the GOONS and registering one of Max's family names (Burstow) as a one name study, something that I have been wanting to do for some time.

After dinner I went to David's talk on how to do a one name study while others went to the Family Tree Maker workshop.  The last speaker of the night was Neil Smith on an overview of Australia's military heritage. It was a very big day but I think everyone went home quite happy.

The Saturday followed the same pattern with speakers and exhibitors keeping the crowds interested. I started with Anne Burrows talk on genealogy at the State Library of Victoria and my talk on Google Genealogy:Are You Making the Most of Google?  was the second talk of the day. This received really good feedback and attracted a very full room which was great. In the afternoon David Berry from State Library NSW was on but I unfortunately missed his talk as I was trying to sort out a problem with my Legacy Family Tree program with Rosemary (I was doing something silly but then it's always easier once you know how). The final talk of the muster was Wayne Doubleday on the Charles Sturt University Regional Archives and I've always been a fan of regional archives and I have even been there a few times too so it was good to see Wayne promoting the amazing range of records they have there.

The only hiccup I noticed was the laptop going out during Rosemary and Anne's talks on both Friday and Saturday. This was a technical issue with the battery going flat so it pays to make sure the laptop is actually connected to power! From my own recent experience I know how disconcerting a flat battery can be to a speaker trying to give a presentation.

 It was a really great two days and as always I've learnt new things, made new friends and want to know when the next Deniliquin Genealogy Muster will be! The organisers did a fantastic job and are to be sincerely congratulated. They also brought a fair bit of revenue to the town too I suspect with people paying for accommodation, food, petrol and so on. Well done everyone involved!

As this Diary entry is getting a bit big I'll save all my comments on the exhibitors for another Diary entry, hopefully tomorrow. We are off to Yarrawonga to stay with friends before heading to Wagga Wagga where I am speaking at the monthly meeting of the Wagga Wagga & District Family History Society. Happy researching!

Wednesday 3 October 2012

Genealogy notes 24 Sep - 3 Oct 2012 Townsville genealogy expo

Nearly two weeks since my last Diary post and it's been full on as usual. We have been moving around different caravan parks on the Sunshine Coast while we look at houses and so far we haven't seen anything that totally meets all our criteria. It is amazingly time consuming - first finding ones we want to look at and then travelling to them etc etc. Still we can't live in a caravan forever, can we? At least not with his toys and my family history!

The only genealogy in my life at present was the Unlock the Past Townsville genealogy expo which to me was exhausting and disappointing. Exhausting because it was a long trip. We had to travel down from Tewantin to Burpengary where we left the caravan and then we had to travel on to Brisbane. Max dropped me off at the airport and then continued down to the Gold Coast and northern NSW where he was catching up with friends. On boarding I caught up with Alan Phillips and he kindly let me have his window seat which was great as it allowed me to have a close up look at my Carnegie ancestors land at Toorbul which is still largely undeveloped. It was great seeing it from the air.

The trip to Townsville was only two hours and we were met at the airport by Rosemary and Eric and a hire car to take us to our motel. Dinner that night was a blast from my past as we went to the Townsville Sizzler - these were a favourite family eating place while I was growing up and Mum still likes me to take her to the Mitchelton Sizzler for lunch when I visit. They were advertising a Pale Yak ale which I thought was a new Queensland beer but it turned out to be a Victorian ale; still it went well with my fisherman's platter.

It was an early start the next morning as we had to get set up before the doors opened at 9.00 am and about 70 people were expected. As usual people were early and started swarming around the display tables and talking to other people. I was the first speaker at 9.30 am with my It's Not All Online talk and just before I started I realised there was no microphone. While someone went to get that sorted, I started my talk to keep to the timetable. A few minutes later the microphone arrived and I swapped over and that's when my problems started.

The microphone kept fading in and out and the audience including the organisers all believed it was me not holding the microphone correctly so I had a number of people come up and tell me to hold it this way, people continually telling me they couldn't hear me and the organisers clearly indicating from the back of the room that they were blaming me for the poor quality of my presentation. BUT I knew it wasn't me as I have given lots of talks over the last 30 plus years without those problems. All of these interruptions also impacted on my delivery of the talk as it broke the flow of my thoughts. Afterwards during the break I was subjected to a lecture on professionalism, other comments I won't repeat here and how if people pay good money, they expect to get someone who knows how to give good talks and hold a microphone. Needless to say I was hurt, disappointed, angry, frustrated and at a loss as to what was wrong.

While I was outside trying to calm myself back down, someone suggested that it was the battery in the microphone that was at fault. He was spot on and when the battery was replaced both Eric and Rosemary were able to do their talks with no microphone issues at all. Eric's talk was on locating German ancestors and each time I hear it, I think with Irish examples and resources it could easily be a talk on locating Irish ancestors. Rosemary's talk was on the new site which seems to change almost every day so I picked up some more hints on how best to use the new website which has heaps more records in it too.

After lunch it was my turn again with my making the most of Google talk and it was with some trepidation that I picked up the microphone again. I held up the faulty battery and explained that this had been the culprit in the first session and that we wouldn't have the same issues this time and thankfully we didn't. So the audience and the organisers could see that I did know how to give a good talk. Although some people did come up and apologise for their earlier comments it still doesn't really take away the hurt of the words in the first place. Other people also apologised for the actions/comments of the rest of the audience and still others actually said that they liked both my talks and got a lot from them. So there were some good moments too.

Rosemary finished the day with her talk on Scotland's People. The exhibitors were Unlock the Past and the range of UTP publications continues to expand and they were also demonstrating the Flip Pal mobile scanner which seemed to be very popular with people. The Family History Association of North Queensland had a display table as did the Townsville City Council library. It was held at the Townsville RSL which meant that it was easy to get something to eat at lunchtime.

After the talks were over, we quickly packed up and Alan dropped Rosemary, Eric and I at the airport for our flight back to Brisbane. They kindly dropped me off at Mum's for the night and the next day Max joined us. I also got to catch up with my son and his girl friend over breakfast, they are house hunting too so we commiserated with each other on how hard it is to find what you want in the area you want at the price you want to pay. My brother came over at lunch time so that was good and we had a quiet evening with Mum.

Next day it was back up to Burpengary to get the caravan and we are currently in a caravan park on the Maroochy river, another nice area of the Sunshine Coast. We leave here on Saturday to head back down south for the Deniliquin genealogy muster, talks in Wagga Wagga at their monthly meeting and Milton/Ulladulla and then the Cornish Cultural Celebration in Nowra. I'm giving talks at all four events so I'm hoping for no more microphone dramas!

As the next few weeks are almost non stop travelling these Diary entries may be less regular but I will try and report on each event as I go. I keep telling myself that life will be normal from the start of November when we will be based permanently in Queensland but I suspect in reality it won't be until we have a house and everything is unpacked and easily found! Until next time.

Saturday 22 September 2012

Genealogy Notes 5-23 Sep 2012 - I'm still here, more or less

Apologies to all my regular readers for the last 20 days missing in action but it has been a pretty full on time. I won't bore everyone with all the last minute moving dramas but will say that our entire life is now inside two shipping containers currently waiting for us in Brisbane. We left Melbourne after a final dose of cold, wet and windy weather and headed up the Newell Highway stopping at Finley, Forbes, and Narrabri in New South Wales, then across the Queensland border to Goondiwindi, Toowoomba, Burpengary and finally into Mooloolaba! But we could only stay a few days there as it was almost school holidays and they were booked out so we are now at a caravan part just outside of Tewantin. We leave there Thursday and are yet to decide where to go next as it will still be school holidays!

Nothing much has been happening on the genealogy front although ironically I have received four small job offers since I left Melbourne but they all came just a bit late which is a shame as some of it would have been interesting and a bit challenging. I have mentioned to do the next installment of my article series for Irish Lives Remembered and I did see in the latest Inside History Magazine that they had published another one of my Q&A pieces I do for them from time to time.

I was a bit disappointed to find out that the Unlock the Past Queensland Coast roadshow was cancelled due to personal issues although I totally understand that family matters come first. The only part of the roadshow still happening is the Townsville day on Saturday 29 Sep 2012 so I have to check my talks later today. I'm always amazed at how often websites change. Rosemary, Eric and I will be flying up on the Friday, doing the roadshow on the Saturday and then flying home Saturday night so a really full on two days. My problem is I don't have a home so I don't know where I will be going Saturday night post airport so we need to sort that out over the next day or so.

I was thrilled to receive an email a few days ago asking if I would mind someone promoting my latest book Trove: Discover Genealogy Treasure in the National Library of Australia! Of course I don't mind, I'm sure all authors would love to have their books promoted! It was from the editor of the VAFHO (Victorian Association of Family History Organisations) newsletter and she also does the newsletter for the West Gippsland Genealogical Society. Words like 'excellent' and 'must have' really cheered me up as I have been finding it hard not being connected to my laptop 24/7!

My other new book Finding Ancestors in Church Records: A Brief Guide to Resources is also attracting some feedback. One Victorian friend worried me when she said she was having trouble finishing the book - she then went on to say that was because she was too busy hopping online to check out the resources and look for her own ancestors! Both books came out the week before our move so I haven't really had time myself to look at the final product.

Nice to see that the National Family History Week page on Facebook is still attracting a few new likes. When I get a little more time I have to get back to planning what to do in 2013. I'd like to see that page have more activity all year round.

I've also missed tweets, blogs, Google+ and Facebook and there is no hope of ever catching up but the priority at the moment is trying to find a new home. But it is amazing how many houses don't look like their photos on the internet, there are a lot of clever photographers out there, they can even move gardens from the right side to the left side! Still it's early days although it would be good to find something before we head back down south for the Deniliquin Genealogy Muster on 12-13 October.

I will be blogging the Townsville day so look out for that and hopefully I will find some time this week to catch up with my emails, heaps of online genealogy newsletters that I haven't read and some must read blogs. Those who know me will recall that I have always said that it was my genealogy passion that kept me looking so young. Well I've only been genealogy deprived for three weeks and already I have more grey hair than when I was dyeing it back in the 60s so that I could look like Leon Russell (Mad Dogs & Englishmen) for those who were around then! Maybe a hair cut will help or just some dedicated genealogy time!

Stay tuned.

Monday 3 September 2012

Genealogy Notes 29 Aug - 4 Sep 2012 Sydney adventures

Well today is the eve of our last day in this house. In 24 hours the removalists will be here and we still have lots of things to do but I simply have to take time out to report on the Sydney trip and my two talks at the Society of Australian Genealogists. I simply love visiting Richmond Villa (the Society's home and where talks are presented) in The Rocks area which is so historic. As usual my two talks on church records and Victorian resources are on my website under the Resources tab, scroll down to Presentations and if you scroll all the way to the end of the page you will see some of my favourite Victorian links.

I had two new publications out last week and Unlock the Past tried to get copies to my Thursday talk but they arrived after most people had left but quite a few of Thursday's attendees also came on Saturday so I still managed to get a few sales on Finding ancestors in church records: a brief guide to resources ($15.00) and Trove: discover genealogy treasure in the National Library of Australia ($14.50), both available from Gould Genealogy & History along with my other publications.

I also had the opportunity to have lunch with Heather, SAG's very efficient Executive Officer and to brainstorm some of my ideas with her for National Family History Week 2013. Later that day I had another chat with Brad and crew from (a major sponsor of NFHW in the past) about some of my new ideas for a revamped program now that I am the national co-ordinator. I also took the opportunity to ask various people what they liked or wanted to see during the week as well and all these ideas will find their way into my report to AFFHO (Australasian Federation of Family History Organisations) on ways to further highlight the week in future.

I missed a catch up with Ben and Cassie from Inside History Magazine as they were in the throes of getting their new website up and running. Plus there is a new issue due out and they've been busy with dispatch over the weekend. I hope my copy arrives before we leave on Thursday. I have to see the post office today and get our mail held until we have a forwarding address. Everyone keeps asking for one but we really don't have one - we don't even know what caravan park we will stay in once we get up to the Sunshine Coast. Thank goodness for email and mobile phones, how did they ever manage in the old days!

My travel plans in Sydney didn't go quite to schedule but when travelling you do need to be flexible so when I found I had a totally free day on Friday I took the opportunity to do a ferry trip round the harbour stopping off at Taronga Park Zoo and at Darling Harbour to see the Australian National Maritime Museum (ANMM). I always love visiting zoos and the Sky Safari Cable up to the top of the zoo gives one of the most amazing  views of Sydney not to mention looking down over the various animals as you go up.

I particularly wanted to see the Remembering Titanic 100 years memorial exhibition at the ANMM and it was really sad seeing all the names of those who died listed up on the wall. I found it fascinating to watch some of the outtakes from the James Cameron Titanic movie (was that really 1997, years going too fast for me) as it showed how they recreated the sinking and so on. Made me want to watch the movie again and I think I have seen all the other Titanic movies as well. None of my own ancestors were involved with a shipwreck but I have visited many memorials to shipwrecks especially on King Island (yes there is history there as well as all those yummy cheeses and lobsters).

After the Saturday talk at Richmond Villa I couldn't resist the lure of the arts and crafts at The Rocks market and spent a pleasant few hours in the Sydney sunshine looking at all sorts of wonderful things. The fact that I had to travel home by plane curbed my buying spree and also the fact that I didn't really have a home to go back to just yet!

Cleaning out the food cupboard (do I really have that many herbs and spices not to mention sauce bottles) and the fridge and freezer isn't going to get done unless I get a move on. The other half is tackling dismantling the BBQ and other similar type chores plus we have to move all the 'stuff '  we want to keep with us out to the caravan and the two cars today. Somehow I don't think it is all going to fit but it is hard to know what we might need over the next few months!

The Diary posts on our way north will probably be more like a travel log than a genealogy blog as I can't see myself getting to much genealogy in while driving the car! However I do have to review my talks for the Unlock the Past Queensland Coast roadshow in Sep/Oct (full dates, places and details here) so I'll have to find some time for that. Wish us luck with the removal tomorrow! Till next time.

Monday 27 August 2012

Genealogy notes 18-28 Aug 2012 busy busy!

Well as the title suggests it has been 10 busy days since I last logged on. Everything seems to happen at once. I've had all the dramas of packing up the house, getting ready for my Sydney trip, finalising my next two publications for Unlock the Past and to complicate life I cracked a filling in my tooth needing a visit to the dentist, had to visit the doctor for another mole removal (fast growing and changing colour), a biopsy and thankfully not malignant this time and a specialist visit which I had put down as unnecessary but the CT scan showed something not quite right so I'm now considering when can I schedule in an operation which involves drilling a little hole in my head!

I had also been congratulating myself on having got through winter with hardly a sniffle when in the last few days I seem to have come down with a nasty chest infection. By this time tomorrow I need to be on a plane to Sydney so lots of fruit and vegies today! I'm actually looking forward to  my two talks  at the Society of Australian Genealogists as it gives me a chance to catch up with Sydney friends. I've got some meetings arranged, dinner with an old friend and after my talks I'm spending the weekend with a friend at her unit right on the Harbour to relax before the big move next week.

During the last week or so I have been doing a little experiment with the National Family History Week Facebook site (I'm the new co-ordinator in case you missed that news) and by placing a couple of messages on that site and my own Facebook site I managed to have a rather dramatic upsurge in statistics for the site, mainly thanks to my cyber friends. It would be really good if those reading this could also visit the NFHW Facebook site and hit the Like button (if you haven't already) as I am trying to prove the power of social media in promoting events like NFHW. I'm working on a strategic plan for 2013 and I'm hoping that we can make the week bigger than ever.

Now that all my family history files are packed away in boxed I feel quite empty. Although I have most of the data in my software program I don't have all my paper documents or photographs scanned yet so I can't just pop up and look at something. I'm also a bit worried that we won't find another home with a study as big as this one. When we do finally resettle somewhere, it will be a toss up what I unpack first - the domestic stuff or the family history!

Observant readers will notice that I've added a few pages to this blog - one on My Families and a more direct link to my other website and finally a page on the Genealogists for Families project which is a really good way of supporting families around the world.

The other thing I managed to do was finish the next installment of my articles on Irish Loved Ones - Missing Down Under for Irish Lives Remembered. The new issue is due out on 5 September and remember it is free online.

For anyone on the Queensland Coast don't forget the Unlock the Past road show is heading your way in the next few weeks. All details on my Events page and I hope to meet lots of new people on the trip.

Although it's a way off I've also been planning for my trip to Rootstech 2013 next March, looking at airfares, accommodation and registration. I've always wanted to go to Salt Lake City so this is a good chance to do it and go to what promises to be a great genealogy conference too.

Anyway the rest of the packing won't finish itself plus I need to sort myself out for the Sydney trip, will it be cold and wet like last time or will I see some early spring? Till next time.

Friday 17 August 2012

Genealogy notes 15-17 Aug 2012 Q&As & new role

It's been a hectic few days. From time to time I am a guest 'expert' on Inside History Magazine's regular Thursday night Facebook genealogy Q&A session at 8.30pm. This week the topic was all about BDM certificates and the session will be summed up in Inside History's blog and it was good to see Jill and Helen also sharing their experiences as well as some of the people asking questions. Who would have guessed to look under Author for Arthur or my own example of where the certificate recorded the name as Union but it was really Onions (you need to sound that one out).

It's a great hour and all things being equal, Inside History will be hosting it every Thursday night at 8.30pm EST. Next week it is two people from the reference area of National Archives of Australia so start thinking about what questions you might have for them.

The next day I had to make the trek into Melbourne as I had been asked to do a family history segment on ABC Radio Australia with Clement Paligaru. They have an international audience mainly in Asia and the Pacific but  no matter what country you are researching the basics are largely the same, home sources, national archives, libraries, genealogical societies, local historical societies and of course these days the internet. Oral history also plays a big part in Asian and Pacific cultures too. The announcer was particularly taken with the idea of genealogy cruises and the next Unlock the Past cruise to Fiji in February 2013. The session lasted for 20 minutes which was a bit longer than planned but it's hard to talk about how to do it in that short time.

In the last Diary I mentioned that there was an announcement coming and of course I have since tweeted the exciting news that I have been appointed Co-ordinator of National Family History Week (NFHW) taking over from Lesle Berry who started it in 2006. It's a voluntary position and although all the action takes place over one week in August, there's lots to do during the year talking to sponsors and getting societies and others involved. NFHW has a website and a Facebook page and I have taken over administration of both.

Looking at the Facebook page yesterday I noted that there were 177 likes and this morning after I had posted a message about trying to do more PR via social media that number had gone up to 187 thanks to some of my cyber friends. It's a bit like ripples in a pond, it keeps spreading out and the more people who participate the more NFHW will be known and followed. I'd like to thank my cyber buddies who have already offered to assist and once I have had time to think about how I want to progress NFHW in 2013, I will definitely be in touch.

I was also pleased to see a couple of people in their twenties also commenting on the page. Brought back memories of when I started in 1977 and how much younger I was to everyone else. With the internet and social media it is much easier now for everyone to trace their family history and I think it would be really good if we good get more younger people involved too. I'm keen to get feedback from people on what we can or should be doing with NFHW so please let me know your thoughts.

This weekend I have to continue the dreaded packing of the study but I also want to make sure my talks for the Society of Australian Genealogists are all up to date and ready to go. I've got a huge stockpile of e-newsletters to read -I think that's worse than a stockpile of physical newsletters as it is almost invisible and it's so easy to flick an e-newsletter into a folder thinking that you will get back to it but lately I don't seem to be doing too much reading. At least a physical pile of reading makes me feel guilty every time I look at it.

Until next time.

Tuesday 14 August 2012

Genealogy notes 10-14 August 2012 Yarra Plenty again

In between my two engagements with Yarra Plenty Regional Library I got stuck into packing up my study. The genealogy books are fairly easy but I certainly slowed down when it came to my filing drawers and of course my photographs and other memorabilia. It's unrealistic to think that I can do much more scanning given that we only have three weeks left here and part of that time I will be in Sydney talking at the Society of Australian Genealogists. So with some concern, I am boxing parts of my family history records in smaller boxes to go inside the bigger moving boxes. That might even help with the unpacking side of it later on. I hope we find a place reasonably quickly.

Monday was a beautiful day in Melbourne and there was hardly any traffic on the Western Ring Road as we went first to the Thomastown Library where I gave a talk on Caring for Your Family History Archives. From there we then went to the Ivanhoe Library where we had lunch at a very nice cafe nearby (latte, chicken foccacia and a carrot cake to die for). Suitably fortified I gave my talk on What Was the Voyage Like to an almost full house and then had a lengthy Q&A session. It was interesting to see that some people came to all five of my talks for Yarra Plenty.

As usual, I have place copies of my five presentations on my website on the Resources page, scroll down to Presentations. I've also been encouraging attendees to check out my blogs SHHE Genie Rambles and this Diary as there were few hands in the air when I asked who read genealogy blogs. It will be interesting to check my stats next week.

I was also pleased to learn about Wikinorthia which is a partnership between Moreland, Darebin and Yarra Plenty library services which provides their communities with the opportunity to document life in the northern suburbs of Melbourne. At each library I also checked out their genealogy and local history collections and it's really good that people have access to services like this near where they live. The libraries also have and and both get heavily used.

Then it was a sad farewell to Liz as I won't be seeing her as often once I'm back in sunny Queensland. She did an excellent job of organising my five talks and getting me to each library on time and making sure I was suitably refreshed in between sessions.

I've updated my website Events page to include my remaining talks for 2012 including details and booking information for the Queensland Coast Roadshow which will see me talking in Bundaberg, Rockhampton, Townsville, Mackay, Gladstone and the Sunshine Coast - should be great! It kicks off on 25 September so we will have about two weeks to look at houses before we head off on that adventure.

However for now my priority is finalising my talks for the Society of Australian Genealogists on 30 August and 1 September - details on the Events page. I've also just been reading the proofs of an Ask an Expert question I did for the next issue of Inside History magazine and I have to write part 2 of my Irish Loved Ones Missing Down Under series for the free online genealogy magazine Irish Lives Remembered. has given me a sneak peek at some new records they are releasing soon. No relevance to me but I'm sure some people will be excited. The trouble with sneak peeks is that you just want to blurt it all out but can't. Last night I watched the UK 2009 series Who Do You Think You Are episode with David Mitchell on SBS and of course today I just want to do family history research and find interesting stories on my ancestors!

Well I can feel more cardboard boxes calling me so I'd better get back to the packing!

Stop Press - just had a really exciting phone call but I can't say anything yet until it is officially announced! Two secrets in two days - I'm too excited to just go and pack now! Looks like I will just have to settle for a cup of tea and a biscuit!

Thursday 9 August 2012

Genealogy notes 7-9 Aug 2012 - talking at Yarra Plenty

Monday had to be one of the wettest, coldest, windiest days I've ever experienced in Melbourne but when you are booked to give three genealogy talks on the other side of the city you can't stay in bed just because you don't like the weather. I was also giving myself extra driving time because every time I go on the Western Ring Road it is chockers and I wasn't disappointed. Getting up to about 30km an hour was about as exciting as it got and at one point I thought I wasn't going to make it to the first venue. But once past the airport it did get a bit faster and amazingly I found the first venue without getting lost once.

Yarra Plenty Regional Library has a number of libraries within it due to the sheer population numbers in this part of Melbourne. My first stop was Lalor Library and the talk was basically a beginners type talk on researching Australian ancestors. As usual I will be putting up PDF copies of the Yarra Plenty talks on the Resources page of my website, under Presentations (scroll down). I'll probably wait until after the last talks next Monday to do it. There are a few other priority items on my to do list today!

After the talk Liz (organiser of the talks as part of their National Family History Month, they can't fit everything they want to do in a single week so a month makes sense) wandered across the road (trying to ignore the rain and wind) to the shopping centre where we indulged ourselves with a pie and latte. I had a pepper one hoping it would warm me up from the inside.

After lunch it was off to Mill Park Library and I was very grateful to Liz for allowing me to follow her as I don't think I would have found my way on my own. Although trying to keep together without other cars coming in between or being separated at traffic lights was a bit tricky in the rain. Mill Park library is stunning and I actually thought it was some sort of convention centre and I even found myself thinking about how good it might be to go back to work in a place like that, especially their local history collection room. The talk here was on It's Not All Online, Where Else Can I Look which was well received by an enthusiastic audience.

After that Liz and I wandered across to the local La Porchetta for an early dinner and I again went for a warming type meal - calabrese tortellini with lots of hot salami and chilli in a great tomato sauce with another latte. We had a great genealogy/library discussion and the two hours went very quick. Then it was back into the cars for the drive to Watsonia Library and by this time I was well and truly lost as I have never been to that part of Melbourne before.

The evening talk was on researching Victorian ancestors and was well received despite a few technical difficulties at the beginning. By the end I was starting to feel a bit weary and after checking on the best way to get back on the Western Ring Road for the long drive home, I was on my way. Luckily that time of night it is not as busy as during the day but even so it still took just over an hour before I was unlocking the front door.

The other half was back from Bali and having slept all afternoon was keen to tell me all about his adventures which were definitely more exciting than my tales of packing up ready for the move which is now less than four weeks away.

I managed to get in some of my news as well including that I had an article published in the August issue of Irish Lives Remembered and I had spent time doing talks and publications. I still have two more talks to do for Yarra Plenty next Monday - details are here. These will be my last genealogy talks in Victoria which is a bit sad.

Yesterday I made a determined attach on starting to pack up my study and I'm trying to keep everything in the order it is currently in but of course that doesn't always suit the nature of the packing boxes. Because books and paper weigh so much, the boxes are smaller and I'm now surrounded by little towers of boxes! Whatever house we end up buying, it has to have a study as big as this one or bigger!

Today I'm doing some publication checking and indexing along with more study packing so I better get back to that. The day's already half gone but I've also done the domestic goddess type work as well, washing, cooking, cleaning, yes the other half is definitely back!

I hope others are having more genealogy fun than me at the moment. Till next time.

Monday 6 August 2012

Genealogy notes 31 Jul - 6 Aug 2012 still talking genealogy

Well National Family History Week 2012 went very quickly!  Even though the week is officially over I still have five talks to give for Yarra Plenty Regional Libraries - Wednesday 8 August and Monday 13 August. A list of libraries I'm speaking at, the topics and when are here. Makes me wonder if we should have National Family History Month like New Zealand has. Anyone else had similar thoughts?

I've been busy putting the finishing touches to a new Unlock the Past research guide on using the National Library of Australia and in particular Trove its national discovery service. Hopefully that will be published before the Queensland Coast Roadshow along with my other new guide Finding Ancestors in Church Records (out soon). asked me to do a guest blog on an Olympian so I went back to the 1912 Olympics and was fascinated to learn about Cecil Patrick Healy. He is also our only Olympian to have ever been killed in action. Healy was killed in 1918 just 74 days before the end of the war.

I've also got an article in the August issue of Irish Lives Remembered on Missing Persons Down Under which I'm excited about. It should be due out this week and remember it is free to view! There are so many interesting stories just waiting to be told.

As if I'm not busy enough, this week also sees the start of a free National Institute of Genealogical Studies course that I signed up for a while back. It was part of an introductory offer to attendees at an Unlock the Past expo. I can't resist free offers and this one is on genealogy methodology. Although I've been doing my own family history for 35 years it doesn't hurt to go back to basics especially when so much is changing in the genealogy world these days.

Hazel Edwards has sent me a copy of her latest book on Authorpreneurship: the Business of Creativity for review (that's two books now I have lined up to review when I finish packing). I'm looking forward to reading this as Hazel told me a little about it while she was still finishing it. In a nutshell is is about investing in your creativity to increase your professional opportunities. The back cover states that Hazel has written over 200 books so she is probably well qualified to talk about authors building their own brand.

The other half is due back tomorrow from Bali and I don't know where those ten days went. I'm looking forward to some help with packing up the house. I've spent the last few days just packing up all my books and I've started on the study. The hard part is trying not to pack something that I might need over the next few months but then again you can only fit so much in a caravan! There seem to be lots of houses for sale on the Sunshine Coast so hopefully we won't be homeless for too long.

It's a nice, sunny, but cool day here in Melbourne so I might make the most of it and go for a walk now before the weather changes!

Monday 30 July 2012

Genealogy Notes 30 Jul 2012 - 9th Family History Feast

Despite the heavy traffic on the freeway, I made the trek into Melbourne in good time for the 9th annual Family History Feast (previous years' podcasts are also available at that link). It doesn't really seem nine years since Anne Piggott (National Archives of Australia), Anne Burrows (State Library of Victoria) and I (then Public Record Office Victoria) sat down (over lunch) to start planning the first ever Feast. Like all events, it needed a name and Anne Burrows reminded people yesterday that I had come up with the name. So for posterity and the record, I will briefly say how Feast came about.
Some of you may have seem the 1987 Danish movie Babette's Feast which is based on an Isak Dinesen (Karen Blixen) novel. She also wrote Out of Africa another favourite book/film of mine. The movie Babette's Feast also won an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. It's a great story and if you want a plot spoiler read about it here but to me, what the two Anne's and I were trying to do back then, was to bring to our clients a 'feast of family history'. I think that we have achieved that over the years and although Anne Piggott and I have moved on, our place in organising Feast has been taken on by other NAA and PROV staff members who assist Anne Burrows.
Enough memories, on to a report of the day. As usual the presentations were included on a PROV USB given out as you registered and there was the usual goodies bag - this year a stylish blue PROV bag with brochures from Museum Victoria, PROV, Immigration Museum Victoria, Geelong Heritage Centre, Bendigo Regional Archives Centre, State Library of Victoria, National Library of Australia and TROVE, National Archives of Australia, Australian Institute of Genealogical Studies, Founders and Survivors, Victorian Association of Family History Organisations (VAFHO) and their 4-5 May 2013 conference Under the Southern Cross and the Australian Institute for the Conservation of Cultural Materials (AICCM). It was great to see so many supporters.
After a welcome from Anne, the audience were introduced to the new CEO and State Librarian Sue Roberts who spoke briefly about her background. I was the next speaker with Google Genealogy - Are You Making the Most of Google? which from verbal reports was well received. I was a bit mortified that I had the wrong title on my presentation that was included on the USB stick given out to attendees. I checked the talk endlessly but not the cover slide!! I have put the 'correct' presentation up on my website on the Resources page (scroll down to Presentations).
Next was Daniel Wilksch from Public Record Office Victoria who talked about Old Records, New Access and it was good to hear that by the end of the year they hope to start putting the digitised inquests to 1925 up on the PROV website. It will take about 12-18 months to put them all up which is a sobering reminder of just how huge that wills, probates and inquests digitisation project with FamilySearch was when it started back in 2004. Daniel also invited people to start making more use of the PROV Wiki to help make access to records more easy.
After lunch Mark Brennan from National Archives of Australia talked about Pictorial Records in their collection and although I was familiar with PhotoSearch and Faces of Australia (227 images and found under Snapshots of the Collection), I had not heard about Destination Australia. It is 20,000 images of migrants post World War 2 and it is interactive ie you can add in your own stories or comments. In fact, NAA is looking for more active online participation by users, especially with their pictorial records.
Last Feast speaker for the day was Susan Long from State Library of Victoria Pictorial Collection who talked about photo albums, their history and meanings. I liked her comment that albums hold 'the DNA of history' and she pointed out that photos within albums still have their original context where as when they are digitised, they lose that context unless there is an attempt to keep the digitised images within that context.
For the last few years the Victorian Association of Family History Organisations (VAFHO) have been holding their annual Don Grant Family History Lecture at the end of Family History Feast. This year the speaker was Professor Janet McCalman on Vandemonians in Victoria. Janet is associated with the Founders and Survivors Project which is linking Tasmanian convicts to their World War 1 descendants where applicable.
Carmen was the official SLV blogger for Feast and her reports can be found on the Library's Family Matters blog.
At the end of a long but stimulating day, the lucky seat prizes were drawn and Anne announced that 5 August 2013 would be the date for the 10th Family History Feast. Although I will be in Queensland then, I will have to make a quick trip to Melbourne as I wouldn't want to miss something that has been part of my life for so long! Roll on National Family History Week - I'm having a great time!