Thursday, 29 January 2015

Genealogical Cruising: 7th Unlock the Past Cruise Part One

Rosemary Kopittke, Heather Fitzpatrick and the shorty is me
It has been a great time and I have just come off the 7th Unlock the Past cruise.

This was a very special cruise for me as it went to Albany. My great-grandfather George Howard Busby was aboard the A40 Ceramic which was in the Second Convoy that left St George's Sound,  Albany 31 December 1914. He went from there to Egypt and thence to Gallipoli so as Albany was a stop and this cruise had some military lectures I had to go.This was a short cruise of five nights.

The amazing Lee
 The 100 year commemorations in Albany for the first convoy had occurred in November.
  
The Queensland Contingent, this time arrived by air.

We were kindly driven by Kristen down to Fremantle from where our ship the Astor would leave. Weather was sunny and a warm 35 degrees but it is a dry heat which was a relief after the high humidity we had had in Brisbane.

Lee was our liaison on the ship and kept things running smoothly. He was also the DJ, a singer and I am not sure how many other hats he wore but always had a smile whenever I saw him. 

After our obligatory lifeboat drill, it was time for dinner then our "Meet and Greet". The Astor pulled away from Fremantle on its way to Esperance

Our first day was at sea and was a full conference day. 

The eminent historian, Dr Richard Reid gave the first presentation:  Ireland of the ancestors: maps, documents, valuations,diaries, books, parish registers.  Richard showed the life in Ireland and the records that can help us add that life to our families.

Then it was a choice between Mike Murray on Researching Your Western Australian Ancestors or Eric Kopittke speaking on  Starting Your German Research. I don't have research in either area but went to Mike's talk.

One of the artistic fruit carvings decorating the buffet
Then morning tea time before Lesley Silvester's talk  on Beyond the Parish Registers: lesser known English records from the 18th and 19th centuries. Lesley is very knowledgeable in this area and well worth hearing if you have a chance.

Then lunch, one thing on a cruise is that food breaks happen quite often! 

I spoke after lunch on Gallipoli: medical services talking about how the medical service was organised and how they helped the wounded. In this time pre the antibiotic era disease was always a problem. In fact there were only two weeks during the campaign that there were more wounded being evacuated from Gallipoli than soldiers who were ill with disease particularly dysentery.  being a Public Health Microbiologist I have a particular interest in health and how this affected our ancestors.

Then Richard Reid gave an excellent presentation on "Trenches, memorials and bits of metal: the Anzac area of Gallipoli today" 

Dr Richard Reid talking on Gallipoli
Richard had been the historian with the Australian War Memorial and Veterans Affairs for many years. He has a particular affinity with the Western Front especially as he was involved in bringing the "Unknown Soldier" home. Richard was also involved in the  Joint Historical and Archaeological Survey, and it began in 2005 with high-level diplomatic negotiations between the Turkish, New Zealand and Australian governments. Gallipoli is the best preserved battlefield of the First World War as obviously in heavily populated areas there was the requirement to use the battlefied areas again for farming and life. The Turkish government have preserved the battlefield area and we should be very thankful for this, considering their country was invaded by enemy forces.

During the dig there was a lot involved and part of it was the mapping of the trenches, using technology with GPS tracking and a huge amount of hard physical work cutting the undergrowth in the trenches. Later in 2015 a book will be published on the findings of the survey and this is one that is definitely on my shopping list.

Another break and then Liana Fitzpatrick, President of WAGS (the Western Australian Genealogical Society) gave a presentation on two of their special World War One projects: Western Australian Gallipoli deaths and the Cheops pyramid photo. I plan to write a special post on these two projects so more about them later.

Rosemary Kopittke then spoke on Using Electoral Rolls for Genealogy: Tips and Traps. It is important to know the requirements for being on the roll as you could waste many hours searching for someone on the roll when in fact they were not eligible to vote. And in counterpoint you may not search thinking they wouldn't be on the roll when in actual fact they may be there.

Then came the Research Help Zone and  these are always a highlight for me as I really enjoy talking to people about their genealogy and their brickwall problems. There is nothing more satisfying than hearing the brick wall come tumbling down.

Then dinner (yes I did mention there are a lot of food breaks!) before we reassembled for Mike's talk on being "The Online Detective: improving your online research.

Then to bed being rocked to sleep while the ship traveled to Esperance. People tendered ashore at Esperance but I spent my day in the very nice library enjoying research time and doing another Research Help Zone with associated meal breaks before Richard's after dinner talk on 'There is no person starving here’: Australia, Ireland and the Great Famine, 1845‐50.

Richard did his PhD on Irish migration and showed the wealth of records and information that is available about the Famine and migration. It is too easy to just say "They came because of the Famine and it is important to determine the various effects on the different areas due to 
the Famine.

Then off to the Captain's lounge for a quiet drink and discussion on the day's talks.

Changeover of night to day