The 2011 Shoalhaven Family, Local and Cultural History Fair

20 June 2011

Given that we live in Melbourne, readers may be wondering why we would drive all the way up to Nowra for this event. Well as the organisers know, we have relatives in Ulladulla (just down the road) and in previous years we have made the trip to coincide with a visit to them. It was easier when we lived in Canberra, and on the return trip this time we stayed the night in Canberra. Waking up to minus five degrees, and a layer of ice on the car, reminded us of why we left Canberra!

Driving into Nowra it was hard to miss the many banners advertising the Shoalhaven Family, Local and Cultural History Fair and it was really good to see the organising committee on the front page of the local newspaper, The Shoalhaven and Nowra News under the banner Unlock Your Past. Local support for the two day annual Fair is strong and probably explains its success each year. The Shoalhaven School of Arts is the venue with exhibitors inside the old building and a separate building used for the talks.

There were 23 exhibitors listed on the website (and a few more at the Fair) and while quite a few represented local societies, a number were also commercial businesses and book sellers. The rollup was as follows:

Berry & District Historical Society

Nowra Historical Society

Shoalhaven Family History Society

Bolong Union Church Heritage Group

Milton Ulladulla  Historical Society

Milton Ulladulla Family History Society

Shoalhaven City Library

Lady Denman Museum

Southern Sons of Cornwall

Nepean Family History Society

Joy Murrin Family History Services

Society of Australian Genealogists

State Records NSW

Tea Pot Genealogy

Kim Phillips – Spirits of Gallipoli


Turtle Consolidated Services

Marilyn Rowan Transcriptions

Inside History

Irish Wattle

Kiama Family History Centre

Shauna Hicks History Enterprises and Unlock the Past

Berrima & District Historical & Family History Society

Creative Memories (scrap booking)

When people weren’t asking exhibitors questions, or buying books and genealogy magazines, they were attending lectures. On Friday there were three talks – myself on Google Your Family Tree: Tips and Tricks (copy online on my Resources page, scroll down), Lindsay Allen from State Records NSW talking about Online SRNSW Records and Pat Ryan talking on The Farmers From Greenwell Point to Nowra.

Saturday’s talks included Alan Murrin on Researching Your Family History in the UK from Australia, Kim Phillips on The Men of Gallipoli, Paul Parton on FamilySearch: Tools for the Enthusiast and Megan Gibson on Who Do You Think You Are Research.

I tried to resist the temptation to buy books but I couldn’t especially when I managed to find a couple of second hand mining books on Moonta and Gympie, two places my mining ancestors lived. I also picked up a very nice badge from the Southern Sons of Cornwall stating ‘Cornish by Descent’.

It was also an opportunity to give Kim Phillips some of our family information on Tasman Jarvis for her Spirits of Gallipoli website. We had been in email contact and exchanging information but it is always much nicer talking in person.

Another nice feature of the Fair was the provision onsite of scones, soup and a roll, sandwiches etc with a couple of sit down areas at the front of the building. A busy team of people kept the supply and sales up to the hungry hordes. The venue was also quite close to the main street with cafes for those wanting something more substantial.

It’s hard to know how many people attended as it was free entry but most exhibitors were kept busy although it went a  bit quiet when the talks were on. For me the networking opportunities and the chance to catch up in person with email and Twitter friends is a real attraction plus I am always inspired to further my own family research when I see what others have done. There is always something new and I have yet to attend any event where I haven’t gone away with at least half dozen new things to do. My thanks to the organising committee for yet another great Fair.


Shauna has been tracing her own family history since 1977 and is a Fellow of the Queensland Family History Society. In 2009 Shauna received the Australasian Federation of Family History Organisations (AFFHO) Services to Family History Award for her achievements in Queensland, Canberra and Victoria.

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