DNA Down Under … an Event Like No Other!!...

August has been a big month for me. As part of the organising team for Unlock the Past’s DNA Down Under roadshow, myself along with the others have been busy with the preparation and attending these events. DNA Down Under truly was an event like no other in Australia. For a start it was an event that went to 6 Australian cities, 5 of which were full one-day events (Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide, Canberra and Melboourne), and Sydney which was a non-stop 3-day event. It was also the first ‘DNA only’ genealogy conference to be held, and from the reaction, attendace, and comments – this is just what Australia needed. It catered to everyone from the “I haven’t even tested yet, what will DNA show me?” through to the very advanced genetic genealogy topics. I made it to three venues: Brisbane, Adelaide and Sydney – so I know it all, right? Ha … I’ll admit I didn’t get to a whole lot of talks even over the three venues, which is the downside of being an organiser and exhibitor. Still I did manage to get to some. Anyway there’s no doubt about it, there was a vibe to DNA Down Under that I haven’t noticed with other Australian conferences apart from the last Congress. People were so excited, they were counting down the days – and I don’t believe that they were disappointed. UNDERSTANDING THE BASICS Blaine Bettinger (aka The Genetic Genealogist), speaker, author, Facebook group convenor, DNA guru, and all round great guy – Blaine has an incredible knack to be able to teach everyone in a room the basics of DNA without losing them with scientific jargon. Not an easy task. There’s no doubt that DNA is a big topic, and I have...

Counting Down to DNA!

I know I’ve been rather quiet on the blogging front for a while now, but for a good reason. As part of the organising team behind the DNA Down Under roadshow, that has taken up a lot of time (day and evening). But the beginning of the event is almost here, so my organising part is almost done. Starting next week, Australia is having it’s biggest ever DNA specific genealogy conference. Held over 2 1/2 weeks, this roadshow features the guru of everything genealogy DNA, Blaine Bettinger, also known as “The Genetic Genealogist“. While he is the keynote speaker, he is joined by a whole host of Australia’s top genetic genealogists such as Louise Coakley, Helen Smith, Michelle Patient, Kerry Farmer and a stack more!! It’s truly the ultimate DNA fest … and it’s for total beginners through to advanced level, so there’s something for everyone. I saw a comment on Facebook saying “where else can you get 8 hours of DNA learning from the so many of the best in the world at one event!”, and another comment saying this is her “once in a lifetime event”. It’s so exciting to hear that others are just as excited. The roadshow kicks off in Brisbane on Wednesday 14 August, and heads around the country to Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne, Canberra and finishes in Sydney with 3-day in-depth conference. To give you an idea of what you’re in for (excluding Sydney), here’s some of talk titles: – Introduction to DNA – Using Autosomal DNA for 18th & 19th century mysteries – Genetic genealogy: standards, ethics, risks, limitations – Using GEDmatch & DNA Painter to analyse your DNA – Myth Busting Ancestry – Finding Australian matches – Limitations of cousin matching – Getting the most from your FTDNA results...

Win Your Way to DNA Down Under...

By now you’ve probably already heard that the legend of genetic genealogy, Blaine Bettinger (yes THE one and only, the one who is the author of the insanely popular “The Family Tree Guide to DNA Testing and Genetic Genealogy’), is coming down under to Australia in August 2019, to teach us all about DNA and genealogy, and everything relating to it. In fact he is one of a team of genetic genealogists that will be touring Australia to give everyone from the “I’ve not even tested yet, why should I?” through to the advanced users who already understand what ‘haplotype’ and ‘phasing’ mean. The presenters will not only be explaining just how useful DNA is for genealogy, but also how to understand and make the most of the results. There’s also talks on ethics, using DNA to solve 18th/19th Century secrets, and using third party DNA tools, and how to get the most from your results from the various DNA testing companies. If that sounds like your cup of tea (or coffee), then keep on reading …. The tour covers day-long seminars in 5 Australian cities (Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne and Canberra), and ends with a 3-day DNA-fest in Sydney. As the Sydney topics are largely different to the other states, quite a number are doing “DNA to the Max”  which is 1 day in your own state + 3 days in Sydney, which really is the UL-TI-MATE!!! This is actually what I’m doing (Adelaide + Sydney), and while I reckon my head will be swimming after day 2  (let alone day 4), I know I’ll learn a lot. The whole tour goes for 2 1/2 weeks, starting in Brisbane on 14th August 2019, and ends in Sydney, so here’s...

My Roundup of South Australia’s History Festival...

May came, and what a insane, crazy month it was. But it’s over, and while we’re disappointed that the South Australian History Festival is over for another year, we can all now take a little rest. Admittedly I didn’t get to as many as I had hoped, but with birthdays, work, interstate visitors and hospital visits added into May as well … I didn’t do to bad, as I managed to get to 10 events. Anyway I promised you a mini-review of the activities I got up to during history month, so here goes …   ———————————- BOOK LAUNCH The Secret Art of Poisoning: The True Crimes of Martha Needle the Richmond Poisoner (by Samantha Battams) My history month began with book launch. Held at the spectacular Carclew House in North Adelaide, Author, Samantha Battams gave the very packed room a great introduction on “The Secret Art of Poisoning” with some background on how this book evolved, and why this story needed to be told. One woman, four murders (plus another attempted one), and rat poison. It’s a fascinating (and sad) but true story that happened in the late 1890s Australia. And one that I’m looking forward to reading soon. “How did a serial killer from the 19th century almost get away with murder? And what were the circumstances that led to two infamous poisoners in one family?” For more on this book, check your local bookstore, or visit Samantha’s own website. ———————————- TOUR SANFL History Centre Tour (by the SANFL History Centre) Did you know that the SANFL (South Australian National Football League,) had a history centre? No, nor did I until I saw it in the history month event program. Anyway, I saw they were having a tour of the...

South Australia’s History Festival 2019 – Let the Fun Begin!!...

May is the month that all South Australian history-lovers and genealogists look forward to, as it is South Australia’s History Festival, which really is just a month-long history-fest! And this year we get a whole month PLUS a few days, as the History Festival kicks off this coming weekend, (Saturday 27 April) with the Open Doors weekend which gives you a choice of 50 places to check out. This is then followed by over 700 events from 400 organisers held all over the State throughout May. Every year is BIG, but even before this one has begun, the organisers have announced that this year’s history month is offically the BIGGEST EVER. South Australia’s History Festival is presented by the History Trust of South Australia, and began its life as South Australia’s History Week back in 2004, and changed to a month-long event in 2011, and what a great move that’s been. Though seriously a month STILL isn’t long enough to cram in all the events I want to get to, but I won’t complain, as I know we’re very lucky. Anyway the program that is jam-packed with events, covering all corners of the State, and there’s oodles for the genealogy and history buff to enjoy, and even those not so much into history as well. There are tours galore (bus tours, guided walking tours, self-guided tours, even ghost tours), open days, seminars, displays, workshops, exhibitions, book launches, workshops, treasure hunts and so much more … even an escape room! This year I’ve booked in for 10 events, and am looking forward to those. I have some archive tours, a few talks, a day seminar, a book launch, an escape room, and a treasure hunt too. As I’ll be cramming...

DNA Down Under is Coming!!...

Have you taken a DNA test, and apart from seeing your ethnicity estimates, you wonder what’s next? Have you tried to get in contact with a ‘DNA match’ and not got a response? Have you found ‘surprise matches’ and are unsure what to do about that. Or maybe you haven’t even taken a test, and wonder what all the fuss is about? Or you’ve heard about DNA tests being used by authorities to catch criminals and it’s made you wary. All of these aspects and plenty more will covered at Unlock the Past’s upcoming event “DNA Down Under“. Blaine Bettinger, author of the best selling book “The Family Tree Guide to DNA Testing and Genetic Genealogy”, heads a lineup of world-class genetic genealogists, who are touring Australia during August 2019, holding 1-day seminars in most cities, and culminating in a 3-day DNA-fest in Sydney. The dates: Brisbane – Wed 14 Aug Perth – Sat 17 Aug Adelaide – Tue 20 Aug Melbourne – Fri 23 Aug Canberra – Mon 26 Aug Sydney – Thu-Sat 29-31 Aug The speakers: These speakers will take your understanding of DNA to the next level, no matter what level you’re currently at. The team brings a wealth of knowledge and experience in family history and in particular DNA and its usefulness as yet another tool to help you in your research: – Brad Argent – Blaine Bettinger – Fiona Brooker – Louise Coakley – Gail Edwards – Kerry Farmer – Mike Murray – Michelle Patient – Jason Reeve – Helen Smith For more on the speakers, click here. The options: Book for a 1-day event in your own city, or head to Sydney for a 3-day DNA-fest. … OR do ‘DNA to the MAX and book...

RootsTech 2019 From Home – #NotAtRootsTech...

Next week the genealogy world converges on Salt Lake City, Utah in preparation for the world’s biggest genealogy conference, RootsTech 2019, which runs from Wednesday 27 February through until Saturday 2 March 2019. With an expected attendance of around 25,000 people coming from 37 different countries, there’s 300 classes on offer, and over 200 exhibitors to check out – RootsTech really is something else, and nothing I’ve been to compares. Sadly, I’m not going this year. I did make it in 2013, 2015 and 2017 (you can read about them here), and considering my first time was a “once-in-a-lifetime-bucket-list-thing”, I can’t believe I’ve made it there three times already. Anyway, this year I’ll be a part of the #NotAtRootsTech crowd. And while I know it won’t be the same, I’m determined to still make the most of it, and ‘participate’ from home. At least when I’m not working anyway. So how can I (and you) participate in RootsTech when we’re not at RootsTech? There are a few options. WATCH THE LIVESTREAM LIVE Firstly, you can watch the Livestream Live. There’s 22 presentations being livestreamed, but if you’re on Australia, you;’ll need to be dedicated as due to the time difference the streams start at 3.30am (Sydney time) and go through till around lunchtime. Here’s a link to the list of livestream talks with both the US time, and the Australian time for each, and click here for more details on each of the talks. It is expected (although not 100% guaranteed as I can’t find it written anywhere) that these talks will all be available to watch later in the video archive. WATCH RECORDED CLASSES The RootsTech website lists the following classes as being recorded (but not live streamed). they say...

14th Unlock the Past Cruise: Days 4-5 Paw Chocolates, Icebergs, a Whale and an Aurora...

Continuing on my report of the Unlock the Past Alaska cruise … and we’re up to day 4, and there was more exciting happenings! Monday – 10 September 2018 (Skagway, Alaska, USA) It was another super stunning weather day with blue skies all round. I heard a fellow cruiser say that they never expected to get sunburnt in Alaska … but they did! We docked at Skagway early and those on tours made their way off. Many went on long train rides which certainly was one way to see the place. I didn’t have any tour booked, so wandered ashore, then took a shuttle bus to the town for a walk around with my mum. To say that this town looks like it’s out of a western movie is an understatement. It really, truly does! You can totally imagine gun fights happening in the streets. Well I can anyway! One thing that fascinated me was the painted rocks near where we docked. They were painted with a ship name, and usually the captain and often a date. So there’s me thinking what a fabulous (but rather unusual), genealogical source they would be. Proof that your seaman captain was here at that date! Now if I could just find one that related to my seaman ancestor dating back to the early 1900s! Hmmmm. Anyway the town of Skagway was full of little shops, most selling jewellery (despite what the vintage sign outside said – obviously they were just for looks). I did find a little store selling chocolates, and each variant was a different “paw” type. I bought a few but then remembered I wasn’t meant to bring food back on board, so had to eat them quickly! As it was...

A Day and a Conference in Seattle...

Tuesday the 4th of September was the longest day ever (well for me anyway). I was up at about 3am, ready for a 6am flight – and my long trip to the US for my latest adventure began. After after 3 plane flights, bad food, and no sleep, 30 or so hours later, I was at my hotel in Seattle, USA. By this time it’s Tuesday mid-afternoon and a lovely blue sky day, much to my amazement … as my only prior knowledge of Seattle (other than that’s where Nirvana were from), was that ‘it ALWAYS rains’. I must say that I’m very impressed that I was proved wrong. Anyway I was there primarily for Unlock the Past’s Alaska cruise, which I will report on in a later post, but prior to the cruise I had two days in Seattle. So in this post I’m writing about that. Wednesday 5 September 2018 This was my “free” day. A day to sleep (which I reckon I needed), or a day to tourist. I opted for a bit of both. A quiet morning at the hotel, followed  by some touristing courtesy of the hop-on-hop-off bus in the afternoon – and another perfect weather day. While the bus has 18 stops or so I want to show you just 2 places I saw – the Space Needle and the Chihuly Glass Garden and Exhibition. Both were certainly something worth seeing. While I dd take plenty of photos, I found videos of both, which shows the scale of them far better than my pics do.  If you want to see more of the Glass Garden, click here for a longer video. For more on the Space Needle, check out this link. After...

Unlock the Past in Seattle Live … and Livestream...

If you’re lucky enough to live in (or near) Seattle, Washington, USA, and are totally into genealogy you probably already know about this event, and already have your tickets. But for the sake of those who don’t, please bear with me. Australia’s Unlock the Past are heading to Seattle for their Alaska genealogy cruise shortly, but before they board, they’re holding a one day genealogy seminar in Seattle with four of the world’s best genealogy speakers: – Blaine Bettinger (USA) – Cyndi Ingle (USA) – Maurice Gleeson (England) – Wayne Shepheard (Canada) The conference is divided into two streams with a total of 10 talks on throughout the day. There will be DNA, Irish and General topics, and Wayne Shepheard, author of “Surviving Mother Nature’s Tests: The Effects Climate Change and Other Natural Phenomena have had on the Lives of our Ancestors” will be talking about the “Genealogy and the Little Ice Age ” You can view the full program here. Now obviously, not everyone can get to Seattle, but you can pretend you are, as Unlock the Past have just announced that they will be LIVESTREAMING the conference, so you and everyone else around the world can tune in live (or at a later time) to watch the talks. And as they will be available to watch for a while after the event, for those in Australia you don’t have to stay up to stupid o’clock to watch. As I am going on the Alaska cruise, I will be at the Seattle conference, so will write about it in due course. But I hope that some of you take the opportunity to tune in and hear these world-class speakers as well. ATTEND IN PERSON: Cost: US$45 Date: Thursday, 6 September 2018...