History and Wine Part 1: 717 Convicts...

This is the first of two posts that I’m writing about wine, history and convicts! And I must say, that this topic is my newest fascination addiction. So let me introduce you to the “717 Convicts”wine. Made by Darren and Suz Westlake of Westlake Vineyards. They run a small, family operated business in the heart of the Barossa Valley, South Australia’s wine country. And their range “717 Convicts” is one of their brands, and is a tribute to the First Fleet, and tribute to Darren’s ancestors. The story starts back in the county of Devon in England where Edward Westlake was tried for stealing 40 pounds of mutton to the value of 10/-., back in 1786. He was found guilty, and was sentenced to 7 years transportation, along with his father in law, John Mortimer and brother-in-law Noah Mortimer. All three got their “free ticket” to Australia aboard the “Charlotte”, which one of the 11 ships in the First Fleet., which left England in May 1787. You can read more about the ships (and the convicts ) here. Edward, John and Noah were just three of the 100 males, 32 females and 30 crew aboard the “Charlotte” for a total of 252 days – that’s an incredible 8 months, 1 week, and 1 day. I’ve been on cruise ships and by day 12 I tend to get stir crazy – and that’s pure luxury compared to the conditions that these ships would have been, so there is no comparison. After all they were prisoners, and were treated like it too. Anyway all three survived the voyage to New South Wales (not everyone did), and by March 1788 all three were then transferred on to Norfolk Island, as part of...

Everything is Instant

We live in an instant world. I don’t think anyone would disagree with that statement. Our food is instant, our communication is instant, our coffee is instant, and entertainment is too. But from time to time I am reminded about how much we rely on power and automation to make our life what it is. And I’m thinking that maybe I don’t think quite like everyone else, as I like to think about what it was like ‘back in the day’. Back in the era of my grandparents, or even great grandparents. So even just getting up and ready for school or work would have been an entirely different routine to those in today’s era. Just think about it these days: – you can flick a switch, at the lights go on, or when the power is out we have torches (none of this lighting candles just to move from room to room) – and we can turn the knob on the stove, and it heats up – push some buttons on the microwave, and tea is ready in a few minutes – open the fridge or freezer door and you have nicely cold food and drinks – if you’re cold, just pop the heater on – or if you’re hot put the airconditoner or fan on – the washing machine just needs a few buttons pushed, and wallah, it’s all washed for you – and the same goes the dryer – want hot water? No problem. Just turn the tap. None of this having to heat up water in the kettle or copper – want toast for breakfast … just pop a slice in. You don’t have to have a fire to get doing, to then toast the bread – and...

Society of Australian Genealogists …. the Beginnings...

Most Aussies who’ve been doing genealogy for a little while will be familiar with the major genealogical societies in each state: QFHS, GSQ, AIGS, GSV, WAGS, GSNT, GST, SAGHS, HAGSOC and SAG. Today’s story focusses on the Society of Australian Genealogists in Sydney, which we commonly refer to as SAG. While recently browsing on Trove (as you do on cold, almost-winter evenings), I came across the following article which tells of the beginnings of the Society … So as you can see the Society of Australian Genealogists was formed way back in 1932. This made me go looking to see when the other state societies were formed, and here’s what I found: 1941 – Genealogical Society of Victoria 1964 – Heraldry & Genealogical Society of Canberra (also now known as Family History ACT) 1973 – South Australian Genealogy & Heraldry Society (also now known as GenealogySA) 1973 – Australian Institute of Genealogical Studies 1978 – Genealogical Society of Queensland 1979 – Queensland Family History Society 1979 – Western Australian Genealogical Society 1980 – Genealogical Society of Tasmania (now known as Tasmanian FHS) 1981 – Genealogical Society of the Northern Territory A snippet from the above 1932 article states… “Mr. H. J. Rumsey, said he was convinced that no country had more complete records from the time of its occupation by civilised people than Australia. Mr. Rumsey indicated the various sources of information available for research work, both in Australia and Great Britain … To help one another in genealogical study, Mr. Rumsey advocated the use of a card index system, so that members could be supplied with standard cards to record their investigation. Ultimately, he said, it was to be hoped that a genealogical reference library of their own...

Hoon, and You’ll be Fined … Even in the 1840s...

Same thing. Different century. And still boys will be boys! These days it’s reckless driving, back then it was reckless riding … Furious riding and driving are daily witnessed in Sydney to the extreme annoyance and danger of all persons who may happen to be in the street. People, whether drunk or sober, seem equally careless of the consequence to be apprehended from such wanton conduct, and we often wonder that children and others are not more frequently rendered the objects of accidents; For the middle of the streets are seldom empty, and indeed the contempt of danger of those on foot seems quite equal to the absence of caution on the part of riders and drivers. On Monday a youth on horse-back rode at a quick rate, nearly at full speed, through the street, and knocked down a young girl, the mother of a child, with the child in her arms, and occasioned in her very serious injury. A complaint was made at the Police Office, and the offender was committed to the Sessions for the assault. – The Australian Sydney, NSW, 14 February 1827, pg2 Back in the 1840s a law was passed in South Australia to fine those who were “furious riding or driving”. In otherwords, speeding or ‘hooning’ on your horse, as opposed to speeding or ‘hooning’ in a car as it is these days. Furious Riding or Driving By the provisions of the New Police Act, furious riding or driving is punishable by a fine of from Two to Ten pounds. It will be seen by our police report that a penalty of the lowest amount was enforced yesterday against a person for galloping in Hindley street. He pleaded ignorance of the Act (an excuse not likely long to be available), which was apparently the occasion...

Emigration from England to South Australia in the 1800s...

The “Mayflower” is ‘the ship’ in US history. The first ship to transport passengers from England to the United States in 1620. 102 people, all hoping to start a new life on the other side of the Atlantic. Well, in South Australian history the “Buffalo” is the equivalent. It was one of a fleet of ships to arrive in the colony at the end of 1836. Once it arrived at Glenelg, Governor John Hindmarsh who was on board, proclaimed the establishment of government in South Australia as a British province. From then on, there was a big push to get skilled labourers from England to emigrate to the new colony, and as an enticement they were offered free passage (assisted passage). Of course there was still the option for anyone who wished to emigrate to pay their own way (known as unassisted passage), but many took up the offer of the emigration scheme, and as a result these pioneers helped make South Australia what it is today. But as with anything that’s free, there were some rules and regulations. I came across this list of rules for those wanting assisted passage in the West Briton and Cornwall Advertiser, dated 27 February 1839, and it’s truly fascinating. RULES FOR EMIGRATION The Act of Parliament declares that the whole of the funds arising from the sale of lands, and the rent of pasture, shall form an Emigration Fund, to be employed in affording a free passage to the Colony from Great Britain and Ireland for poorer persons; “provided that they shall, as far as possible, be adult persons of both sexes in equal proportions, and not exceeding the age of 30 years.” With a view to carrying this provision into effect, the Commissioners...

“Dear Friends” … Letter From an Emigrant in 1864...

So what was life like for those who emigrated to South Australia back in the 1800s? Generally you’re only likely to find this information from letters written to family or friends in the ‘old country’, or otherwise from diaries. So it was a surprise to find an article on Trove about an emigrant who not only came to South Australia, but actually settled in the tiny town of Gumeraka (note the alternate spelling of Gumeracha). Written in 1864 to some friends in England (or maybe Wales), it was produced as an article the Scotts Circular (Newport, Wales), and then in The Adelaide Express, 22 April 1865 (as reproduced below). The writer details what it was like for him and his family with housing food, work and wages, neighbours and other businesses all getting a mention. What we don’t know is who the author of the letter is. Still, it makes for an interesting read. In 1864 the town of Gumeracha was not very old, having only been laid out in the 1850s  (for more on that click here). The article starts off with “The following interesting letter has arrived from an emigrant who received a passage under Government, to South Australia.” —————————— The text below is a full transcript of the article. Note the paragraphs have been added in by me to make it easier to read. AN EMIGRANT’S LETTER. Gumeraka, Australia, September 18th, 1864. My Dear Friends, I am glad to tell you that I have got plenty of work the first day that I went on after landing, and the first master that I spoke to I  engaged to go with to go into the Bush a dray-making and waggon-making at the wheelwrighting trade, at the rate of wages I will give you, and...

180, and Still So Young!...

Happy Birthday South Australia! 28th of December. The day that my beautiful homestate celebrates its birthday, and today it turns 180. And while 180 is ancient in human terms, for the age of place it’s really only a baby. But even so, in those 180 years, the colony (and now State) has seen so many remarkable achievements throughout the years. But first South Australia’s birthday is officially called “Proclamation Day“, and Wikipedia says … “Proclamation Day in South Australia celebrates the establishment of government in South Australia as a British province. The proclamation was made by Captain John Hindmarsh beside The Old Gum Tree at the present-day suburb of Glenelg North on 28 December 1836.“ John Hindmarsh, who became the first governor of South Australia arrived in South Australia on the “Buffalo”, on 28th December 1836, and when he stepped ashore at Holdfast Bay (near the Old Gum Tree), he read the proclamation. Each year re-enactments of the events of South Australia’s founding are still held on the same day, by the remains of the same Old Gum Tree. The proclamation calls upon the colonists to “conduct themselves with order and quietness,” to be law-abiding citizens, to follow after industry, sobriety, and morality, and to observe the Christian religion. By so doing, they would prove to be worthy founders of a “great free colony.” You can read the full proclamation on the Adelaidia site. The People … As with any place, South Australia has many men and women of ‘note’. Those who’ve made an impact on the State  in various ways, and you’ll find many of these mentioned in the 150 Great South Australians post (see links below), but obviously the list is confined to 150, with others who...

Discovering Links: 15 FREE Links for Australian Genealogy and History...

Here’s another of my “Discovering Links” post. These posts consist of a collection of links that I have discovered, or found useful, and want to share with others. But rather than simply giving you a whole batch of random links each time, I am grouping them by Australian state, country or topic. You can see my previous Discovering Links posts here. For this one I’ve decided to share my Australian (meaning Australia-wide) links. It is not intended to be an exhaustive collection (not by a long shot), but they are simply ones that many will find useful, and it may include some that you may not have known about. And while many people think that genealogy costs a lot of money, let me tell you that all of the links below are free. Personally I find that it’s often a matter of knowing where to look beyond the big-name websites, and hopefully this will help with that. ======= MONUMENT AUSTRALIA Containing almost 30,000 monuments so far, the Monument Australia website is a site which records the “public monuments and memorials in all Australian States and Territories under various themes”.  Divided into conflict, culture, disaster, government, landscape, people and technology, you can search this site, and find transcriptions and photographs of most of the monuments listed. The work of volunteers, they are to be commended for their efforts. AUSTRALASIAN BDM EXCHANGE The Aus BDM Exhange site is a “free resource for genealogists to share information from Australian and New Zealand vital records”. If you have BDM records you can enter their details in so others can find them. And you can search to see if anyone has already entered details for those you are researching. Their stats show that currently the...

Facebook for Australian History and Genealogy...

Anyone who thought that Facebook is useless for genealogy research is WRONG, and this proves it. Over the past few years I’ve compiled a number of lists of Australian history and genealogy related pages and groups that are on Facebook. But I figured it was time to combine them all into one, and expand it yet again. And rather than have a HUGE long list to scroll through, I’ve made it into a PDF file so now you can download it. DOWNLOAD HERE This 20 page list has over 500 Australian genealogy and history Facebook links all categorised into State or topic (military, commercial, researcher etc.). This is an ongoing list which will be updated regularly, so if you have any links you’d like added, please either send an email to  alona @ lonetester.com (without the spaces), or message me on my Lonetester page on Facebook. ————– While we’re on the topic of Facebook and genealogy, if your research covers more than just Australia be sure to check out Katherine Willson’s worldwide Genealogy on Facebook list. This list is enormous, and now has over 10,000 links. And if you have Canadian connections, you can’t beat Gail Dever’s Facebook for Canadian Genealogy...

The Australian Census: 1828 and 2016 Comparing the Questions...

Tuesday the 9th of August 2016 was an important day in Australia’s history. It was Census Day. A day that many find a chore (and not just because of the census website crash). But to say it’s a day that all genealogists and historians look forward to is an understatement. Anyway while I was filling out my paper copy of Australia’s 2016 Census (all 60 questions worth), I was thinking about what questions were actually asked in Australia’s first ‘official’ census. But before we get on to that, let’s take a step back. It is a well known fact that Australia conducts a census, extracts the data and then destroys them … much to the horror of historians and researchers. Anyway as a result, very few Australian censuses even exist. But one that does is Australia’s very first one. It was held in New South Wales in November 1828 … ok, technically it was New South Wales not Australia, as Australia wasn’t a country until Federation in 1901, but I’m not going to debate that here. New South Wales 1828 Census As you would expect, the aim of the 1828 census was to “record all inhabitants of the colony” (both convict and free). We are not only fortunate that this incredible record has survived, but we also get to see images of it online on both the Ancestry and Findmypast websites. Listing people alphabetically by surname, the questions asked for this census were: 1. Name of inhabitant 2. Age 3. Free or bond 4. Ship name on which arrived 5. Year arrived 6. Sentence 7. Religion 8. Employment 9. Residence 10. District 11. Total number of acres 12. Number of acres cleared 13. Number of acres cultivated 14. Number...