Unlock the Past Tasmanian Cruise Mar 2020 Report Part Two

21 March 2020

Pacific Aria off Kangaroo Island

This is a continuation of the recent Unlock the Past genealogy cruise. Read Part One here which covers the first three days. Kangaroo Island (part of South Australia) was the only port we spent time in.

Day 4 did not go to plan – we were supposed to do scenic cruising in Wineglass Bay, Tasmania in the afternoon but instead the Captain told us we were returning to Adelaide as the cruise was cancelled. So no visits to Hobart, Port Arthur or Burnie. We have been to Tasmania many times but others hadn’t and were very disappointed. As it would take another full day at sea to get back, we were still able to have most of the remaining presentations.

My first presentation on Day 4 was Rosemary Kopittke talking about The Genealogist and how to search it and how it can be useful in breaking down brickwalls. You can search using various filters and not just a surname. That can be useful if you think the surname may be spelt wrong. It is also very good for non-conformist records. There are various subscription packages.

Then Else Churchill talked about 19th century newspapers, 18th century journals, local directories and poll books. She packed a remarkable lot of information into the time. Looking forward to going through the handout at a more leisurely pace. Else referred to the Gibson Guides a number of times in her talks, and I still have them all on my bookshelf. Nice to know they are still relevant. Connected Histories is a website you might want to check out if you have not already done so.

Hamish did his talk from the previous evening about linking records to tell the whole story. Digitising records helps us to do that. Lunch followed and then Alec Tritton spoke about Sea, sand and sail: employment of the sea. With many seafarers in the family I was most interested in this topic. There were so many websites mentioned I will have to refer back to the handout. One he mentioned was the Royal Museums Greenwich website and in particular Research Guide B5.

After a coffee break I went to Geoff Barber’s talk on The English Manor and Copyhold Property. It was during his talk that we heard the announcements about the cancelled cruise. Hard to concentrate on anything after that mind blowing news. Then Hamish gave his presentation on Did Convicts Lie? The results of various studies were interesting and overall the convicts seem to have been fairly honest as the records could catch them out if they lied.

That night after dinner Hamish looked at the Aftermath of Convict Life Course and Families. As we were all tracing our families we knew how our own stories ended. I must mention the Founders and Survivors website and thank all their lovely volunteers.

Day 5 became the last day of the cruise and was Day 8 on the original program. As Kerry Farmer was not present, some of her sessions were dropped and Else Churchill’s moved to new time slots. It was a confusing day as the ship and some of us were still on Tasmanian time while others had gone back to South Australian time.

Anyway I caught most of Helen Smith’s Developing a DNA Research Plan with lots of good tips on how to choose other relatives to test, depending on what you are trying to prove. This was followed by Else Churchill talking about a huge number of sources for researching women ancestors. A key point was that you might have to look for them under their husband’s names and don’t forget just plain Mrs Smith.

Unfortunately this meant that I missed Bobbie Edes talk on Explaining tithes, taxes, townlands and other Irish land records. I had been looking forward to this but hopefully I will get another chance to hear Bobbie here in Queensland whereas Else was heading back to London.

After a coffee break I listened to Melissa Hulbert talking about No trees, Wikitrees and Contacting Matches. Yes another DNA talk but all relevant to me as I trace Dad’s family. So many options with DNA but you may have to wait patiently for others to get back to you.

As we were getting off the ship in the morning we had to have our bags outside the door between 5-8 pm, so I then went to do the hard job of repacking everything while remembering to keep out things I would need overnight and in the morning. That done and a quick lunch, it was back to hear Else Churchill on 17th century problems, strategies and searches. It is mainly my Cornish families that go back that far but I still found it interesting. Need to do more background reading on English history in earlier centuries.

Another coffee break  then it was Alec Tritton with County records: JPs petty and quarter sessions. More references to the Gibson guides so guess what I will be reading over the coming weeks of ‘don’t go out unless you have to’.

Luckily we had booked the the Dragon Lady restaurant for dinner that night so we got to try it before the end of the cruise. An interesting degustation type menu and surprisingly more food that we could eat, which was a shame. That old saying ‘don’t leave anything on your plate’ always haunts me. Still a nice way to end our cruise dining experience.

Then the final presentation was Else Churchill on Researching London and it is not surprising people have trouble with London ancestors. A complex place and more so if you don’t know exactly where they were living. A website to remember here is Genuki – and drill down to the London boroughs and parishes.

Then Alan Phillips announced the prize winners and the photos were taken – speakers, States and other groups. It was all over and as this was the last Unlock the Past cruise there were thanks to the UTP team for all the great cruises over the years.

While UTP and P&O could not do anything about the circumstances we found ourselves in, I can still say that I thoroughly enjoyed the cruise and all the speakers, their handouts, and the other attendees during the five days we had together. I really am glad that I took the chance and went. Also very glad that we managed to get flights out on the Monday and home that same day before everything got more chaotic.

I have been on quite a few of the UTP cruises over the years and it was good to see many regulars on this last cruise. It takes enormous planning and commitment to organise these events and while I am sad to see that there are no more, it probably is time for Alan and Anthea to slow down. Although I suspect that Alan might find that hard to do. So thanks to the whole Unlock the Past team for some great genealogy cruising and I hope that the various land events scheduled down the track are also successful. I am already booked for Family History Down Under in March 2021. Let’s all try to catch up there! Stay safe everyone.

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  1. A great summary of those hectic last days of the cruise, Shauna. Yes, I was sorry that the presentation by Else was at the same time as my Irish land records one, as I’d wanted to attend that particular one on researching women ancestors as I’d assisted my mate Pauline Williams on that talk at GSQ recently and it’s good to compare the contents.
    It was a relief to see you looking so well on the cruise and my thoughts are with you in the coming months, stay well and we’ll catch up ‘down the track’

  2. Thanks Bobbie. It was definitely good to catch up with so many friends and let’s hope we all see each other again soon.

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