Nov 22, 2010

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Australia and New Zealand History & Genealogy Roadshow Day Nine

Unlock the Past logoAfter the final sessions of the Unlock the Past roadshow in Australia, Rosemary, Louise and I went in to the historic Rocks area of Sydney where we met up with Elaine. We then explored the various streets around the Rocks ending up in a Chinese restaurant on the waterfront for dinner (a shared Peking duck for the foodies reading this). We were even treated to a display of fireworks over the Sydney Opera House and the old sailing ship James Craig made an appearance and then disappeared again before we could finish dinner and go down for a closer look.

Before we left for the airport we said a sad goodbye to Dan Lynch who couldn’t go on to New Zealand with us due to prior commitments in the US. I must say that it has been a real pleasure travelling with Dan as we have similar research interests and we shared many stimulating discussions and I may have even converted him to Twitter with some of the links I gave him regarding Civil War soldiers.

I simply have to include the following story even though it will make this blog the longest ever. Dan has been talking about his own Italian heritage while on the roadshow and over lunch at the North Ryde RSL, one of the attendees noticed a bowler at the next table had the same surname that Dan was talking about. As it is rather uncommon, he rushed up to tell Dan about the man downstairs and in a splendid example of serendipity, Dan went down to find a long lost relative. They are still to work out the exact relationship but they are definitely from the same ancestors and Dan wasn’t even aware there were any family members in Australia. To make it even more unreal, he has a relative who works in Connecticut where Dan lives. So it certainly pays to advertise the names you are researching!

We arrived in Christchurch a few hours before sunset on a beautiful sunny day so we took the opportunity to walk around the lovely Avon River, saw people punting, ducks and lots and lots of little baby ducks, the Botanic Gardens and lots of lovely spring flowers. We explored the Arts Centre (the former Canterbury College later the University of Canterbury) and the majestic Christchurch Cathedral. The ever energetic Louise raced up the tower stairs to the top for some great photos of Christchurch. Dinner was at a restaurant with a definite Scottish theme and I had the Chicken Barmoral (thought I do think they meant Balmoral) stuffed with haggis and served with a Highlander sauce which was quite tasty.

While walking around Christchurch there are lots of visible reminders of the recent earthquake and aftershocks. Many buildings are propped up and fencing erected around others that have sustained various types of damage. There are even closed streets in the CBD and piles of rubble where cleanup work is still in progress. It is a graphic reminder of just how powerful Mother Nature can be.  My son and his girlfriend arrived here last night and will be staying with her father just outside of Christchurch. I hope my son enjoys this lovely city as much as I do and it must be my fourth visit here.

The Christchurch program only had one local speaker Fiona Brooker talking about the New Zealand Society of Genealogists and unfortunately she was on at the same time as me, so I couldn’t hear her session. However, Fiona will be doing it again in Auckland so I can listen to her there.

With no Dan Lynch, his sessions on Google Your Family Tree were presented by Rosemary Kopittke and myself. Elaine Collins presented on FindMyPast UK while Rosemary gave her usual presentation on FindMyPast Australasia and Louise St Denis from the National Institute of Genealogical Studies gave her two talks on genealogy distance education and the importance of citing sources.

Replacing the sorely missed Aimee on the New Zealand roadshow is Kerry Farmer, newly appointed Director of Australian Studies at the National Institute of Genealogical Studies. Kerry took over the registration desk duties so capably carried out by Carole Riley in Sydney.

Exhibitors in Christchurch were the New Zealand Society of Genealogists with membership information, their publications and copies of their journal. Also attending was the National Library of New Zealand including the Alexander Turnbull Library together with Papers Past, the excellent website for digitised newspapers in New Zealand.

Tomorrow we head off for Wellington so until then, happy researching.



  1. Thanks for the update, looking forward to hearing about tomorrow! I’m glad you enjoyed the Peking Duck and the James Craig, which was given its name in Auckland by the nephew of my great-grandmother Margaret Lowe nee Craig.

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