Unlock The Past Genealogy Cruise review part 2

Day 2 of the Unlock The Past Genealogy Cruise dawned clear and bright, not that I would be seeing much daylight as I had a full day ahead of me.

First up was Shauna Hicks talking about Trove and other National Library of Australia treasures. Shauna has a easy yet professional manner of presenting her talks. I find her a joy to listen to because it is obvious that this is someone who knows her subject inside out. Trove for those of you who haven’t come across it is the Australian Newspaper and other media website. It’s free, it huge and if you have any inkling that one or more of your ancestors headed down to the Southern Hemisphere then you should take a visit to the site. http://trove.nla.gov.au/ Shauna pointed out that if you register with Trove (you don’t have to in order to use the site) then you would get so much more out of the databases. She also pointed out that it was a good idea to get a library card for the National Library, understandably they are restricted to residents of Australia, but visitors can apply for a temporary card if you happen to want to use the library on a visit.

Trove hosts what was know as Pandora and is now called Archweb, this is an archive of now defunct Australian websites, wonderful if you find that the site you want to use is no more. The John Oxley Library which holds a good collection of on-board diaries has put them online on Trove. I could go on for several more paragraphs outlining Shauna’s presentation, but I have other talks to mention. Just let me say if Shauna is visiting nearby make sure you go and hear her speak.

After a five minute break I sat in on Paul Milner’s talk on the Parish Chest, it was interesting to watch the reaction of the audience when he revealed what goodies are to be found there.

At 11am I gave my presentation on Researching New Zealand Ancestors at a Distance. My 3rd cousin 3 times removed beat me to NZ by some  108 years and this talk was about how I researched Enoch and his family and learnt about NZ genealogy along the way. Everyone seemed to enjoy the talk and I fielded quite a number of queries afterwards.

After a quick lunch in the Windjammer Cafe it was back to the Conference Centre to listen to Jill Ball talk about Google Tools for Genealogy. She covered Gmail, Alerts, Chrome, Drive, Docs, Google+, Hang Out’s and a whole lot more. I made a resolution that I would really get to know what Google had to offer because I could see that I was missing out on an awful lot of good ‘stuff’ which would help me. I moved to another room and Jill moved with me as she was giving her presentation Social Media for Genealogist: Where, Why & How. Jill covered Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, Facebook and exhorted us to make the best use of social media to link up with others researching the same families and also to keep up with all the latest family history news.

With my mind spinning, (Jill seems to have that affect on me!) I went and found a quiet spot for an hour on the side deck so that I could absorb what I had learnt so far that day. Then it was time to go back to my room to change for dinner and spend a very pleasant couple of hours talking with my table companions about genealogy and which lectures they had attended that day.

Paul Milner finished off the day with a presentation on English Parish Registers which was presented in his professional manner laced with a good deal of humour. A perfect end to a busy day.

DSCF0297Day 3 saw us docked in Noumea, New Caledonia, I had decided not to book one of the excursions and explored the town on my own. I had expected a definite French influence in the architecture and feel, but was sadly disappointed. The library was housed in a colonial styled building and was well cared for, but the few other French influenced buildings were empty and decaying. I walked up to the Catholic Cathedral St Joseph’s which overlooked town on top of a hill. Built in the 1880’s, taking 10 years to complete, it must have been the centre of Noumea life. Other passengers who took bus tours out of Noumea reported that the island was very attractive and scenic, if I ever call into Noumea again I definitely will book onto one of the excursion and explore the area outside of the township.

We were all ready to leave Noumea at 4pm as scheduled including a concert party on the dock singing and dancing farewell whenDSCF0291 the Captain made an announcement that due to an electrical fault we would be spending another day in Noumea and would therefore be unable to visit Latouka, Fiji. Some passengers were upset by this turn of events, but as the genealogists were there for the conference we were not too fazed. On returning to our cabins after dinner we all found a letter from the company offering us 40% off our next cruise so that pleased us and many family historian signed up for next years Unlock the Past Cruise. Always a silver lining !!








Unlock The Past Genealogy Cruise review part 1

Voyager of The SeasThis is the first of my reviews of the 3rd Unlock the Past Genealogy Cruise which I recently attended. A little late perhaps for which I apologise.

I boarded the Voyager of the Seas cruise liner in Sydney, I had flown in the evening before and stayed at the Sofitel Hotel in Philips Street that night. I won’t bore you with the details, but I was less than happy with my room, but as it was nearing mid-night decided against asking to be moved to another. Let’s just say having laid a complaint I shan’t be staying there again!

However having got myself and my luggage down to the International Cruise Terminal all was well. Handing in my suitcase was dealt with very promptly, and after having lunch and a look around The Rocks area of Sydney I boarded the ship. Booking in, security, immigration & customs all dealt with efficiently and with a smile. Full marks all round.

I had been upgraded to a disability room from an inside cabin and whilst I don’t have any Stateroomdisability (apart from an obsession with genealogy!) and didn’t need the handrails etc I did enjoy having the bonus of a window and a much larger cabin. A surprise was that my cabin and the Conference Centre which were both on Deck 2 couldn’t be accessed just by walking along the corridor. The Ice Rink was in the way !! But I soon found that by going up to Deck 4 and walking along getting some sea-air and then down to Deck 2 I could get from cabin to Conference Centre.

DSCF0356Collecting my name tag and information sheets from the Gould Books Team was soon completed and it was a joy to meet several people who I only knew through emails, Google+ or Twitter. It was especially good to meet Alan Phillips of Gould Books and Jill Ball the person responsible for convincing me that a genealogy conference on the high seas was a good thing !!

The first full day of conference saw me taking in presentations on WW1 Australia soldiers,  migrating ancestors, New South Wales genealogy research, organising your home library and GeneaGoogling. All the presentations were of an excellent quality and it was obvious that the presenters knew their subjects well.

Jill BallI particularly enjoyed Jill Ball’s talk on using Google for genealogy searches, I thought I was efficient enough at searching, but picked up several hints and tips that I am already putting into practice. There is always something new to learn.

Also Stephen Dando-Collin’s story of 3 Australian brothers who went to France to fight for the Mother Country was excellently researched and presented.

What to do with the body

Early afternoon of that first day I presented my talk “What To Do With The Body – A Victorian Solution”. This talk tells the story of Rueben Room and the scandal of the overcrowded  London Churchyards. It covers the Magnificent Seven London cemeteries that were part of the solution to where to bury the dead and most importantly for family historians I outline  where the records for London cemeteries are to be found. I have a good number of attendees and the presentation created much talk afterwards. It seems I am not the only one who is fascinated by London Cemeteries and the Victorian way of dealing with their dead.

Having gone on deck to see the ship leave Sydney, then had dinner with fellow genealogists I was ready for an early night. I had to be fresh for Day 2 as I had earmarked five talks I wanted to attend and also had my “Researching NZ Ancestors at a Distance” presentation to give. An Unlock The Cruise isn’t for those who want to laze away their days at sea aboard the Voyager of The Seas!!