Friday, 13 April 2012

Genealogy notes 12-13 Apr 2012 - historical Sydney

My partner and I have a saying - 'we always end up where we were meant to be' and this usually runs true to where ever we are travelling to, eating out or stopping for the night or whatever as we usually free wheel with no fixed plans. Sometimes fixed plans, if we have them, do change and that happened to me this week and instead of running a genealogy workshop I ended up being able to attend one of the best family history talks I've been to in quite a while. I'm talking about Paul O'Keefe's talk on The Girl Who Loved Ned Kelly and as two of my Geneablogger friends have already written about it I will simply say I totally agree with both their blogs - Geniaus Spine Tingling Stuff and Sharn Exceptional Talk by Paul O'Keefe . Paul will be heading to Victoria later this year so I hope to catch one of his talks again.

I was also privileged to see behind the scenes of Inside History magazine and talk to Cassie and Ben and their other staff. The magazine always comes out on time and has great articles but sometimes we don't appreciate (or comprehend) all the hard work that actually goes into getting a magazine from raw material to glossy end product so it was great to have that insight. Their despatch area was even more tidy than my study at home so they are obviously very organised people (or I need to get more organised)!

Then it was back into the city for me and another walk around my hotel - I'm starting to get my bearings on this part of Sydney. I'm at what is now called the EconoLodge and also the Schwartz Brewery Hotel but was formerly the Macquarie Hotel and it is a really interesting old building and has been a hotel since at least 1888. It has some amazing stained glass windows and pressed lead (or tin) ceilings, not to mention wooden staircases with lots of steps (which I keep calling exercise) up to my room at the top. Amazingly I have three skylights so I can lie there and look up at the moon and the stars! The wooden floor boards creak alarmingly and I wonder if anyone below can hear me walking around but carpet would spoil the ambience of the room.

After an early night I was up bright and early as I wanted to get some more sight seeing in. First up I went to the ANZAC War Memorial in Hyde Park and after walking up all the steps to the top floor, I finally found the exhibition area on the ground floor. There's not a lot of signage and if you enter by the wrong entrance you go round in circles until you finally see the sign. It's not as big an area as I was expecting but it was interesting and there were two areas where you could watch old movie footage which I always find fascinating.

Then it was a walk through beautiful Hyde Park, I really love those trees and it is an eye catching fountain with lots of tourists posing for photos in front of it. My destination was the Hyde Park Convict Barracks Museum now a World Heritage site. Although I've been there many times it has been some years so I wasn't surprised to see a lot of change especially with new interactive displays in the Convict Sydney exhibition. These are designed to engage school children (although I found myself lifting up panels to see what was underneath too)!

I found the lower floor was the most changed from my previous visits. However, I still bravely climbed all the stairs up to the second and third floors, bearing in mind that it was the top floor where they housed the old and infirm women when the building was used as an asylum after its convict days. It must have been really hard for them, not to mention cold in winter. There was also an exhibition area on the Irish Orphan Girls which I found quite poignant and I always find the sight of the room full of hammocks where the convicts slept a sad experience as they really had no privacy or space of their own.

Another change for me was that some of the court buildings surrounding the barracks are now also open for inspection so I checked them out as well. It was such a beautiful autumn day that I couldn't resist having a latte and panini sitting out in the courtyard watching all the tourists visiting the Barracks. It's amazing how quickly a day can disappear but perhaps I shouldn't have had that second latte.

I wandered back to my hotel room and made a determined assault on all the genealogy e-newsletters I have not read over the last few months and as usual I created yet another long list of things I should do/look at. I also went over the e-newsletters from the Australian Society of Archivists as I'm going to the strategic planning meeting being held tomorrow at State Records NSW in the historic Rocks area. After the meeting I'm going up to the Society of Australian Genealogists premises at Richmond Villa to collect my new (again) membership package so that I can do some research at their main library in Kent Street next week.

Then it's a walk back through the Rocks area to Circular Quay where I am meeting and having dinner with my bridesmaid (from my second and only formal wedding) who I haven't seen in what must be over ten years. It seems like only yesterday (but it was 1983) that she helped me pick out a wedding dress and bridesmaid dress that we both felt we could live with. A lot of water has gone under our respective bridges but it will be good to catch up and I'm expecting a late night!

I've got nothing planned for Sunday so perhaps just another catch up on my emails and newsletters and planning my research objectives for next week. It's nice not to have deadlines for a change!


  1. I hope we can catch up while you're in Sydney, will you still be here on Wednesday?

  2. You've done better than I have in seeing Sydney sights - perhaps we should take a holiday in our home city.

    Enjoyed sharing the excitement of Paul O'Keefe's talk with you and Sharn yesterday. What an amazing story.

  3. Hi Carole and Jill
    I've sent you an email Carole and Jill, I think the reason I always try and do the touristy thing where ever I am is because I don't really have a home city anymore. Even Brisbane I treat like a tourist as so much has changed since I lived there.Perhaps I'm a perpetual tourist?

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