Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Unlock the Past roadshow – Melbourne and Canberra report

We’ve had a very busy few days since speaking at Parramatta, with the Unlock the Past Researching Abroad roadshow taking us on to Melbourne and then to the Australian capital of Canberra.

At Melbourne I stayed for three nights with my uncle Bill and aunt Beth in Keysborough, and was able to catch up with my cousins Roslyn and Alison, providing a great opportunity to see some of the local sights from an Australian-Irish point of view, and to sample some local wares – as well as to get some much needed washing sorted (everyone needs an Auntie Beth!)! For the roadshow itself, Unlock the Past visited the Veneto Club on Bulleen Road, an Italian club which I had the pleasure to speak at seven years ago on my first speaking trip to Oz with UTP. We had two very well attended days of talks, with myself kicking off with a day of talks on Scottish and Irish themes on Friday, followed by Dirk Weissleder’s sessions on Saturday covering German and resources and additional topics from further afield across Europe. Amongst those exhibiting were FIBIS (www.fibis.org), the Genealogical Society of Victoria (www.gsv.org.au) and VicGUM (www.vicgum.asn.au). The following are some pics from the event.

Early on Sunday morning we then flew to Canberra, in the Australian Capital Territory. The last time I was in Canberra was also with Unlock the Past about three or four years ago, as part of a pre-cruise talks tour with American speaker Thomas MacEntee, and on that occasion it was very much a hit and run raid – fly in, speak, fly out, and grab some pics from the car as we hurtled to and from the airport! On Sunday, however, both Dirk and I toured around the capital sightseeing with UTP’s Alan Phillips, and Rosemary and Eric Kopittke, and boy, did we see some sights! We visited the old federal parliament building, now home to a museum of democracy, and the new parliament building. Although not in session, it was great to be able to visit the two chambers for Australia’s elected representatives and senators, not least because both Dirk and I have dabbled in local politics in Scotland and Germany. The current scandal underway in Australia just now is the seemingly continuous revelations that many of those elected appear to hold dual nationality, which is forbidden under the Australian constitution – at the last count I think six members, including government ministers, had been caught up in the drama. Sadly this means that Dirk and I will not be able to stand for government in Australia, but many believe that one day some Australians might…! (Sorry, cheap joke!)

Two of the highlights of the day for me as a genie were to be able to visit both the National Library of Australia (www.nla.gov.au) and the National Archives of Australia (www.naa.gov.au). The NLA is the body which famously oversees the TROVE project (www.trove.nla.gov.au), the online portal with digitised newspapers and other resources made freely available from across the nation, working in partnership with many state agencies. The National Archives was actually in a much smaller building than I was anticipating, but hosted a fantastic exhibition in the lobby area. Sadly, with it being a Sunday we were not able to gain access to the search rooms, but I was very impressed with what I saw and look forward to returning some day to properly plunder their holdings!

After driving around the part of town hosting various embassies and high commissions, as well as the Australian National Mint, we ended up at the National War Museum, another highlight of the day. I will write about this in a subsequent blog post.

On Monday then we visited our next roadshow venue, the German Club in Canberra. Unlike most of our venues, on this day Dirk and I were speaking at the same time in parallel streams in two different rooms, although I have to admit envying Dirk speaking in the Bier Kellar – I have no idea what they got up to downstairs, but everyone came out very happy! Upstairs I gave four talks of my own, and also heard presentations from Nick Reddan of the Heraldry and Genealogy Society of Canberra (www.familyhistoryact.org.au). Nick may be better known to folk in the north of the planet as the founder of the Irish themed Registry of Deeds Index Project (www.irishdeedsindex.net), which has now passed 250,000 indexed entries (as of 12 AUG 2017), a superb project helping to unlock the potential of one of Ireland’s most important genealogical resources. It was great to meet Nick, and if you wish to contribute to his project’s efforts, the original deeds registers themselves have now been microfilmed and made available online at FamilySearch – consult Nick’s site for further details.

So that was it from Melbourne and Canberra! The only downside of the last few days was in the wifi provision at Canberra airport, which is unbelievably poor for a facility servicing the nation’s capital city, and hence the late posting of this update. Our next stop is Adelaide, where in addition to speaking at the German club (pre-booking is closed, but you can still attend and pay on the day – see www.unlockthepast.com.au/events/researching-abroad-british-isles-european-ancestors-adelaide). I will also be popping my head around the door of Unlock the Past itself….!


My next 5 week Scottish Research Online course commences Sept 11th 2017 - details at www.pharostutors.com/details.php?coursenumber=102. For my genealogy guide books, visit http://britishgenes.blogspot.co.uk/p/my-books.html, whilst details of my research service are at www.ScotlandsGreatestStory.co.uk. Further content is also published daily on The GENES Blog Facebook page at www.facebook.com/BritishGENES.

1 comment:

  1. Glad the roadshow is going so well and that you and Dirk are getting to see some of our country and its institutions as well. Looking forward to your talks later this week