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.