Review of Sands of Time Conference Redcliffe October 2022

5 November 2022

Despite the very unkind weather over the weekend, the Sands of Time genealogy conference was a big success. Three days of genealogy at the Dolphins Leagues Club at Redcliffe, Queensland. Just down the road from where I live if you don’t factor in the highway traffic.

Friday was a free public exhibitions day and some free talks in the morning with paid workshops in the afternoon. No doubt the weather kept some people away but my time in the exhibition hall was spent chatting to friends, talking to people about resources and of course buying books. I managed to limit myself to four. I also collected my conference goody bag.

The Conference Bag

The free sessions I attended were:

  • Rick Aindow – The Research Process: effective research tips (mostly tips about using Family Search catalogue)
  • Mark Finnane & colleagues – Building digital resources to understand genealogy in context (various speakers talked about their projects and the Harry Gentle Resource Centre at Griffith University)

I didn’t attend any workshops but wandered around the exhibition hall and then went back to the motel with a very heavy conference bag and my book haul.

The Friday night Welcome Function was held at the Redcliffe RSL, and it was a drinks and snacks menu with sit down tables. Often these functions are stand up events which can be hard for those not that mobile on their feet. There was plenty of food and my good diet intentions went out the window when the hot food came out. Who can resist a sausage roll?

Saturday was the first day of the conference and it was a full day of speakers with morning and afternoon tea and lunch. Food was again plentiful and delicious although the Dolphins Club staff seemed a bit confused over where morning tea would be held. Small hiccups are always to be expected.

Talks attended included:

Michelle Patient – Keynote (I just missed the beginning so not sure what it was called but an amazing start to the conference)

After a delicious morning tea, we sat back to listen to Stephanie Ryan from State Library of Queensland talk about Moreton Bay convicts and resources for finding more about them. Geoff Doherty followed with Finding and Losing Joe Guidice which showed how difficult it can be to find some people, especially if they are hiding things. Liesl Harrold was next with the Methodology of the Research Process which looked at the genealogical proof standard.

A plentiful lunch was next, but I found it hard to relax as I was the next keynote speaker. It is also that time spot when most of us have an afternoon slump and nod off and hope we don’t fall off our chairs.

Following Michelle was going to be a hard act and with my presentation I had tried to go with some humour plus questions to the audience throughout. I needn’t have worried because feedback for my The Future of you Genealogy Research: no one wants it, don’t care, planned or still dithering was good. My concept of the big red bus was a theme that I kept running throughout the talk and thankfully they laughed in all the right spots.

After me was Sue Reid who gave an advanced talk on searching newspapers which had lots of tips and tricks as to why you might not find articles when you search. The key is multiple searches under all variants of names and places. Afternoon tea followed and I could almost feel the kilos going on but isn’t that what conferences are all about. Good food and chatting with your geneamates over a cup of tea/coffee.

The last session of the day was Fran Kitto with Building a Family History Society for the 21st Century and I was really interested in this. Bribie Genealogy is about to incorporate into Bribie Family History Association and all that goes with that. Fran misjudged the time a little and we only got up to point 7 of her 10-point plan. I’d love to hear this talk to the end as Fran had so many good ideas. There is a handout but not quite the same as a speaker sharing all their ideas.

Then a quick trip back to the motel for a change into my conference dinner outfit. The dinner was two courses, and I had the deep-fried camembert and the stuffed chicken breast which was huge. Both were delicious. No dessert but budgets can only stretch so far when hosting conferences like this. I did like the Sands of Time 2022 cookies which were in a way, dessert. Very sweet!

The Conference chicken and vegies

Jason Reeve from Ancestry gave the dinner talk and it was an update on what Ancestry is doing and it really is amazing how much researching has changed in the last 10, 20, 30, 40 or 45 years if you started in 1977 like me. Even DNA as a tool has changed since I did my test in 2015. Now we have side view and being able to match people to our mothers’ and fathers’ side of the family without parental testing.

Sunday was pack up and check out before heading to Dolphins for the last day. It was still raining and I didn’t realise it was such an early start. I got there in time for the second talk which was Pauleen Cass on Protect Yourself and Your Research; the importance of ethics, copyright and privacy. Not an easy topic to get your head around but Pauleen gave simple explanations to help us understand the concepts.

Sands of Time cookies

Pieta-Maree Clark from the National Archives of Australia talked about war brides with reference to both World wars. I had never contemplated about how big a job it was to bring so many war brides back to Australia. One of my dad’s cousins on his mother’s side was an American war bride and I found reference to her in Trove. Through 23 & Me DNA testing I have found her descendants in the USA. I even located a very handsome photo of her husband although not one of dad’s cousin.

After morning tea there was the last keynote presented by Michelle Patient. Then there was the raffle draw and History Redcliffe had been selling tickets at various events other than the conference. A great idea but it meant that some people were not present, and it make the drawing of prizes longer. Some people had to leave to catch flights or be elsewhere so it might have been better to have drawn the raffles earlier and just put the winners up on the screen. Perhaps not as exciting but at least more efficient when people must leave at a set time.

The organisers must be thanked for all their hard work, both before and during the conference. There is a lot of work that goes on behind the scenes to make conferences like this run smoothly. So well done everyone and enjoy the down time. I look forward to the next History Queensland conference which will be hosted by the Genealogical Society of Queensland in 2024.

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