Nov 14, 2011

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Pambula Genealogy Seminar

It’s a long drive (606 kilometres) from our place to Pambula, New South Wales but it does take you through the scenic Gippsland area of Eastern Victoria. For most of the time we were out of mobile phone coverage which always makes me wonder what would happen if the car broke down as towns are few and far between the further east you go.

Even in Pambula I often found it hard to get phone coverage and if I did, it was odds on that the line would fall out before I had finished. This is a long way of saying it is not always easy for people in regional areas to have access to mobile phone and internet coverage. A bit ironic given that I was asked to talk about using Google for family history and online trends in genealogy.

It had been 10 years since I last gave a genealogy talk in Pambula for the Bega Valley Genealogy Society and there were still some familiar faces plus new ones. As well as my two talks, there was Beth Mitchell talking about the Parramatta Female Factory and while I don’t have a direct interest, I was fascinated by some of the family photos she had of various inmates and their families. What I hadn’t realised was that when the Parramatta Female Factory closed down in 1848, it became the ‘new’ hospital for lunatics (Parramatta Asylum). Beth also promoted the Save the Parramatta Female Factory campaign and most attendees signed the petition she had with her. The Parramatta Female Factory Precinct has a wide range of information and links for this fascinating area of early colonial history and heritage.

The other speaker for the day was Christine Yeats from State Records NSW talking about the DVD The Old Register One to Nine which is an invaluable resource for anyone with ancestors 1794-1824 in NSW. When the DVD first came out I was asked to do a review for the Australian archival journal Archives & Manuscripts so I was aware of how useful and interesting this resource is. In the review I mentioned that I didn’t find it all that easy to use, but I found Christine’s walk through using the various indexes and then finding the digitised images easier to understand. Another useful point from Christine’s talk was the relationship of the Register to other records held by SRNSW. It’s on sale for $100 (that’s a saving of $25) until 14 December so perhaps a great Christmas present for an enthusiastic family historian with early convict or military connections!

Christine had a paper handout  of her presentation (useful for the step by step instructions on using the Register) and versions of my talks Google Your Family Tree: Tips & Tricks and Online Trends in Family History are on the Resources page of my website (scroll down to Presentations).

Perhaps the thing I like most about speaking in regional areas is that the catering is always superb. Country cooking is always in evidence with delicious cakes, biscuits and slices and a great variety of sandwiches plus fresh fruit. Not to mention tea in teapots!!

After the seminar ended we went for a short drive down to Pambula South beach (sometimes you can even see the humpack whales from the beach) and we were surprised to see kangaroos (or were they wallabies or both, many with joeys) in people’s gardens, on footpaths and every where else! Pambula is an historic area and many of the old stone buildings also caught our attention.

The organisers did a great job and from the verbal feedback, everyone went home with lots of things they wanted to follow up on. I hope it is not another 10 years before I am asked back!

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