Unlock the Past logoDay 2 of the Unlock the Past Northern NSW history and genealogy at Coffs Harbour expo was another great day.

One of the reasons I have particularly enjoyed this expo is the great venue (the C-ex Coffs Services Club) – there was a bar area near both theatres selling reasonably priced sandwiches, cups of soup, tea, coffee, cakes and muffins which were all delicious. Even better, there was a breakout area with tables and chairs where you could sit and talk. Those who wanted to bring their own lunches could which was ok if you were a local.

I also liked the theatre areas and there was a lapel microphone which made it easy for everyone to hear and for the speaker to move away from the lectern and use their hands. I am always disappointed when speakers choose to not use a microphone and I am sure that I am not the only hearing impaired person in the audience.

The first session was a choice between Kerry Farmer talking about Which Genealogy Program (which I had heard before) and Jenny Higgins talking about the National Library of Australia. While I have also heard Jenny’s talk before it is always a good idea to catch up with what’s new at the Library. Unfortunately for me (and perhaps others in the audience) Jenny doesn’t like to use a microphone and I miss so much of what she says, often just left watching the slides which is a shame. However, Alan did ask her to use the microphone and she did.

The next session was Rosemary Kopittke talking about FindMyPast.com.au which I have heard a few times as a regular expo presenter so I went to Carol Liston‘s excellent Finding the Address Isn’t Good Enough: The Links Between Local and Family History. I wish I could listen to this talk again as Carol made many good points, all just common sense but it was how she linked it together that made it the stand out presentation of the expo for me.

Next was Leigh Summers talking about regional museums including the Coffs Harbour Museum & Gallery which I would have like to go to but instead went to Nola Mackey‘s talk on Regional Newspapers: Their Value to Local and Family History. I often think researchers don’t make enough use of newspapers but this may be changing due to easier access and searching via digitisation rather than the old wading through microfilms. Nola gave some really good examples of what newspapers can tell us and not just the usual births, deaths and marriages.

The final session before lunch was Noeline Kyle talking about Researching the Lives of Women Ancestors in 2011 and I really wanted to go to this but I had to give a session on Caring For Your Family History Archives. Whenever I give this talk I have lots of people coming up afterwards telling me their hadn’t thought about some of the points I raise in the talk. The idea of our own death is not something we like to think about but like making a will, we should also be thinking about what happens to all our precious research, family heirlooms, photos etc when we are no longer around to safeguard them. Quite a few people also bought my little book on the subject which was good to see.

For lunch I couldn’t go past that excellent pumpkin soup and bread roll again.

After lunch there was a plenary session with Mark Cryle doing Bound for Botany Bay: the Irish in Australia in Story and Song and as the title suggests Mark gave a brief history of the Irish up to Ned Kelly, including famous incidents such as the Castle Hill rebellion and the Eureka Stockade. It appeared he had far too much material for the time allotted and I always wonder what I am missing when people skip over pages. Mark had some great slides to illustrate the various points in his story and the songs every so often made the 45 minutes go very quickly. This was a departure from usual talks at expos but the audience seemed to really enjoy the session. I left hoping that Unlock the Past doesn’t start asking me to sing in my talks!!

Next was a choice between Paul Parton talking on FamilySearch which I had heard previously or Eric Kopittke talking on Locating German Ancestors Place of Origin. I always enjoy Eric’s talks and I left determined to find some German families that have puzzled me for a while. I also was struck by the similarities between looking for German place names and Irish townlands – the strategy is the same, try and get as many examples of the name and variant spellings, check gazetteers and so on.

The next session was where I really wanted to go to Helen Smith‘s Breaking Down Genealogy Brick Walls but instead I had to go to my own session on It’s Not All Online: Where Else Can I Look? There is a handout of this talk on my website (see under 2010 November Roadshow) plus I have a new book on the subject finished just in time for the expo but not yet up on the website but should be there soon. Helen gave out a paper handout of her slides so I could at least see the points she was discussing.

The final session of the expo was Rosemary Kopittke exploring Scotlands People which I had heard at a previous expo. I spent the time in Expert Sessions with individual attendees.

During the day I also managed to get around and look at all the various displays again and I am proud to say that I did not buy one book although severely tempted several times. If we are going to pack up and move in the next year I really do have to stop buying books. See my Day 1 blog for a list of the exhibitors and you will understand my temptations.

I would like to especially mention the ladies from the Inverell Family History Group as they are the hosts for the next NSW & ACT Family History Organisations 2011 conference. They have a great program organised and we are still trying to decide if we can make the trip in September.

After having another look round Coffs Harbour today we are heading down to Port Macquarie to see if it meets our retirement needs then back to Ballina and the flight home to Melbourne. We are there for one day then off to Bairnsdale where I am giving a talk to the East Gippsland Family History Group before heading to the Shoalhaven Family, Local and Cultural History Fair. Another potential retirement spot but at least we are now down to the Top 5!

Is it possible to do too much genealogy? I hope not because I am having a really good time travelling around learning from others and also sharing my own knowledge with attendees.

Thanks to Unlock the Past, all the exhibitors and speakers for another really good expo. Now to follow up some of those new clues!