South Australia’s History Month in Review

South Australia’s History Month in Review

May came and went. Rather quickly actually. And June is flying by, and hence this is a very belated round-up (or review) of the events and places I visited during South Australia’s History Month (aka the About Time: South Australia’s History Festival), back in May.

As usual, I didn’t get to nowhere near as many events as I wanted. But other than taking the whole month off work – followed by the month afterwards to recover – that’s simply not going to happen. Still I got to experience some more of South Australia’s history, and that was the whole point. So here’s a short run down of those that I did attend.

GenealogySA Open Day, Unley Road, Unley

My first History Month outing was a visit to GenealogySA (previously known as the South Australian Genealogy & Heraldry Society) at Unley. I admit to having been a member with them for a number of years, but haven’t visited their premises any time recently, so a visit was overdue.

After a guided tour around showing me what was where, I hung around for several hours just browsing through their books, and card catalogues. And I didn’t even get on to the microfiche or microfilm on this outing! During my visit I met a number of people that I know from the Society, and noticed that they were being kept busy with other visitors coming in for the Open Day.

I was impressed at the number of Society Journals they had from other Societies, including interstate and overseas groups. Having seen what a number of them are like, I’m getting inspired to join a few more societies – though maybe I should wait until I’m focusing on those branches of my family history.

 

I found the rightplace

I found the right place

and their normal hour are ...

and their normal hour are …

a portion of the book collection they hold

a portion of the book collection they hold

one of the many card index drawers at the society

one of the many card index drawers at the society

visitors at GenealogySA on their open day

visitors at GenealogySA on their open day

Tour of the Freemasons Grand Lodge, North Terrace, Adelaide

I made a big effort to get into the city early on a Saturday morning for this one, and managed to despite the cold, wet weather saying I should be home. Anyway myself along with 25 others made it to morning tour, and we were treated to a bottom to top tour of this magnificent building.

This mega-building in the heart of the city of Adelaide is 5 storey high, but is built the size of a 10 storey building – yes, they have high ceilings. During the tour we were shown the museum, the library, a heap of Freemasonry memorabilia, a number of ceremony and meeting rooms, as well as others which are often rented out for functions.

I did ask about how you get records if you had a Freemason in your family history. The answer was that they do have all the records on site, but not open to the public. So you would need to contact them by phone (08) 8223 1633 or email info@santfreemasons.org.au and they will do a search for you. Unfortunately they don’t have their records in a single database that you can simply look through to see if you recognise any names – because I’m sure many of us have Freemasons in our history, but we just don’t know it.

 

the imposing Freemasons SA building

the imposing Freemasons SA building

Freemasons SA

Freemasons SA

the Masonic museum

the Masonic museum

the impressive grand staircase at Freemasons SA

the impressive grand staircase at Freemasons SA

honour boards of all who South Australian masons who enlisted (not just those who died)

honour boards of all who South Australian masons who enlisted (not just those who died)

one of the ceremony rooms at Freemasons SA

one of the ceremony rooms at Freemasons SA

Engineers Australia Conference, King William Street, Adelaide

I can honestly say that I never expected to be at an Engineering Heritage Conference. But hey, I did. And seriously it was fascinating. It was by accident (or fate, whichever you want to take it) that I even saw that it was on. Anyway I did. I went, and I learnt a whole lot.

Held on a Friday afternoon in the city – the fact that I wasn’t male and wearing a suit, I did feel a tad out of place, as apparently there seems to be a ‘look’ for engineers apparently – but still, I went for the talks, not to fit in.

There were 5 talks on during the afternoon, two of which I was really going for, as they were about my Randell family, and another with connections to my hometown, Gumeracha. However what I found was that EVERY talk was fascinating. The speakers really did bring to life a whole different aspect of Australia history that I’d not considered before – engineering heritage! Water connections, bridges, trade via the River Murray, and the lifts in Adelaide’s buildings … all the knowledge on making these feats happen contibuted to our history, helping to make Adelaide what it is today.

I found the right place

I found the right place

the afternoon schedule

the afternoon schedule

the program, the book of engineering history of the city (complete with walking tour) and a USB with a the speakers talks on them - nice!

the program, the book of engineering history of the city (complete with walking tour) and a USB with a the speakers talks on them – nice!

the engineering of the paddleseamer Mary Ann

the engineering of the paddleseamer Mary Ann was fascinating

 

History of the 10th Battalion AIF, City Library, Adelaide

To attend this talk I took a morning off work and headed to the city. Again. Seriously I’ve never been to Adelaide so many times in such a short space of time. Anyway this talk was held at the Adelaide City Library, which isn’t one that I’ve been to, but I found it, though I got here a few minutes after it started.

This 2 hour talk was presented by the Australian Military Historical Society SA Branch, and it gave a brief history of the 10th Battalion from its formation right through until they returned after the war. Graham also mentioned some of the heroics that members of the battalion were involved with as well as the awards some received.

I scribbled 4 pages of notes on this talk, though I’m not sure how much of it actually makes sense, as there was simply SO much information, that couldn’t write it all down. I can tell you that the 10th Battalion was largely made up of South Australian men. And as there was a drought on, together with a lot of unemployment at that time, the opportunity to help out the country (and get paid for it), meant that the there was no shortage of people signing up – including over 200 people on the first day! Morphettville racecourse was the location for the training camp, and as there was a shortage of uniforms and weapons – broomsticks were used as their guns for training. And they were to be treated as such, in other words their “broomstick gun” was not to be more than 1 metre away from them at any time of day, or they would be fined. Men were taught health training, night and day training, distance training,  field craft (living and moving through the bush), and the daily drill of walking in sync.

And to finish off, here a few stats that I wrote down: 1005 men left Australia in the 10th battalion, during the course of the war about 9000 men served in the 10th battalion, 966 men from the 10th were killed in action or died of wounds, and the battalion had numerous Victoria Cross (VC) recipients.

Adelaide City Library, just off of Rundle Mall

Adelaide City Library, just off of Rundle Mall

today's talk is ... the 10th Battalion

today’s talk is … the 10th Battalion

Graham Parks presenting the 10th Battalion talk

Graham Parks presenting the 10th Battalion talk

So that concludes my South Australian History Month for 2015. As I said there was so many other things I wanted to get to but work and other commitments did sometimes have to take prirorty. However I’m already looking forward to SA’s History Month for 2016, and looking forward to learning more about my state’s history.

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