Facebook for Australian & New Zealand History and Genealogy...

Since releasing my first big list of Australian history and genealogy links on Facebook in September 2016, I’ve continued to find more, and more, and periodically do updates. So what started out as a list of a few hundred links, has grown to large list of 2012 links (as at 29 December 2020). That’s 74 pages worth of Australian and New Zealand history and genealogy links … just on Facebook. I haven’t added any new categories with this update, but there are additions to nearly every category that’s listed. It was my June 2020 update when I added New Zealand in. It’s still small, but it will grow, and as it does more sub-categories will be added as needed. DOWNLOAD HERE This is an ongoing project which will be updated periodically, 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 Facebook page. ————– And I can’t mention genealogy on Facebook without making reference to two other incredible lists: – Katherine Willson’s worldwide Genealogy on Facebook list is enormous, and now has over 16,400 links. – Gail Dever’s Facebook for Canadian Genealogy list of over 1000 links is a must for everyone with Canadian...

They Closed the Borders ….. AGAIN!!...

“Victoria-NSW border to close for the first time in 100 years as Melbourne coronavirus cases hit record daily high” – this is the headline from the SBS News report, dated 7 July 2020, and it comes as Victoria is just beginning another six weeks of lockdown to try get COVID-19 under control. Anyway that headline intrigued me, as I was curious about the previous border closure … so I headed to Trove to see what I could find. And what an amazing article I found. Talk about history repeating itself … just have a read of this article from South Australian newspaper, The Register, dated 3 February 1919. You can see the original article here. Please note, the red highlight is my emphasis, not that of the original article.  —The Spanish Flu— No one desires to minimise the horrors or the epidemic which has swept over the world, nor the necessity for precautions, but it would seem that if ever fear was worse than the disease, the present is the occasion. The Federal Quarantining Department kept the disease out of the country for months. Australia has had ample warning, and advantage from the experience of other countries. The Commonwealth and State authorities met last November, and planned, a joint course of action. The Sydney doctors diagnosed their cases as the real thing; the Melbourne doctors were still using big words, and unable to make up their minds. Now both States have been declared infected, but New South Wales will not admit Victorian passengers, because Melbourne was responsible for the trouble, and Queensland, not to be out of the fuss, is asking the despised Commonwealth Government to lend it a body of Light Horse to patrol its border against New South Wales....

Introducing “Six Feet Under Downunder”- Australian Cemetery and Burial Records Online...

In between trips, blogging and presentations, my geniemate GeniAus (aka Jill Ball) has managed to begin a new project (and website) …. “Six Feet Under Downunder“, which is a listing of Australian burial and cremation records online … and she’s asking for your help! But first here’s her explanation of how it came about …. While preparing for my Six Feet Under Downunder webinar over the past few days I realised that there is no one site that lists all the wonderful resources in Australia that index the names of the deceased resting in cemeteries and crematoria around Australia. It would have helped me no end in my preparation if there was a meta site that links to such resources. Of course I decided to create such a site. I must be mad but I hope that the many generous genies around Australia who know of such indexes of  memorials, headstones and burial sites will share them with me so they can be loaded on the site. I will initially only link to free sites that are available online, sites that one can visit via the internet. So Aussie geniefriends, please visit her website, click on the various state links. These link to Google Doc pages with lists of cemeteries. If you know of other FREE sites, that are not yet listed, please send her an email with details, 6feetunderdownunder@gmail.com, and she’ll get it added. The more comprehensive this is, the more useful it is. And I can see this being an incredible resource for those searching for Australian...

Australia’s Biggest Ever Gold Robbery...

1862. 8 Bushrangers. 77kg of Gold! The incredible true story of Australia’s Biggest Steal. Did that get your attention? It sure got mine. ‘Australian Heist‘ is the title of a brand new book written by James Phelps, who is quoted as being Australia’s #1 bestselling true-crime writer. I’ll admit it’s not a name I was familiar with, but I sure am now!! Written as well as any good fiction book, it really is a non-stop-page-turner, with fascinating characters, and twists all the way through. And yet this is Australian history. It really happened. And it happened in what was our ancestors era. This isn’t an official book review, and I’m not going to spoil the book for you, but I will give you the speil … On 15 June 1862, a gang of bushrangers held up a gold escort at Eugowra, just east of Forbes in new South Wales. They escaped with a pile of cash and 77 kilograms of gold, worth about $10 million today. It remains the largest gold robbery in Australian history. In this riveting re-creation of the events, James Phelps finally tells the full story of how Frank Gardiner, Ben Hall, John O’Meally, Johnny Gilbert, Henry Manns, Alexander Fordyce, John Bow and Dan Charters planned and executed the robbery – and what happened to all that gold. And the map! ‘Australian Heist’ is a thrilling, fast-paced and thoroughly modern take on one of the most extraordinary episodes in the nation’s history. Anyway here’s all the relevant book details for you: Title: Australian Heist Author: James Phelps Format: hardcover Pages: 368 pages Published: 2018 ISBN: 9781460756232 Publisher: HarperCollins Australia Buy the printed book Buy the ebook To give you full disclosure. Yes, I do work in...

The First Traffic Lights in Australia...

When were the first traffic lights installed in Australia? It’s an interesting question, and one that once asked, makes you intrigued to find out … well it did me anyway. So that’s what today’s history lesson is all about. When were the first traffic lights installed in each of the Australian states? Of course I headed to the one and only magnificent Trove to find out, and you might just be as surprised as I was! SYDNEY – 13 October 1933 Friday, 13 October 1933 was when Sydney’s (and Australia’s) first traffic lights began operating. The lights were installed at the intersection of Market and Kent Streets in city of Sydney, and were switched on at 11am, by the then Minister for Transport, Colonel Michael Bruxner. You can see a fabulous photo of the traffic lights here.   BRISBANE – 21 January 1936 At 3pm on Tuesday, 21 January 1936 a large crowd gathered in the CBD to watch the switching on of the first traffic lights in Brisbane.  These were installed at the intersection of Ann, Upper Albert and Roma Streets.   HOBART – 27 January 1937 This one surprised me as I never realised that Hobart had traffic lights so early. But the newspapers reported the grand occasion which you can read on the link below. Just before 11am on Wednesday the 27th of January 1937 the lights were turned on at the intersection of Elizabeth and Liverpool streets.   ADELAIDE – 13 April 1937 Tuesday, 13 April 1937 was Adelaide’s big day, as that’s when Adelaide’s first traffic lights were turned on. These were installed at various intersections along King William Street in the city.   MELBOURNE – late December 1937 The Melbourne public had to adapt...

The Origin of Mother’s Day in Australia...

Mrs Janet Heyden from Leichhardt, New South Wales is not a name that you’re likely to recognise, but her name goes down in history as the person who introduced gift giving for Mother’s Day. In 1924, Mrs Heyden was concerned about the lonely, and forgotten mothers in Sydney’s Newington State Hospital when she visited an old friend regularly. So she started a campaign throughout Sydney asking for donations so she could buy presents for these old ladies. Newspapers took up the appeal helping to spread the word, while she made personal requests to many of Sydney’s leading businesses. The response was incredible with donations ranging from talcum powder and soap, to scarves and mittens, as well as confectionery and fruit gifts. Janet is quoted as saying “The late Alderman Dyer, who was Mayor of Leichhardt, used to drive me around to the old mothers of the district with my gift parcels. For seven years in succession the appeal through the newspapers made sure that hundreds of mothers who would otherwise have been forgotten received a Mother’s Day gift, today, of course, a gift for mother is just a natural thing.” Mrs Heyden continued to visit the lonely and forgotten mothers in Newington right up until her death in 1960. It was then her daughter spoke of her mother’s disappointed by the commercialism of Mother’s Day and the loss of it’s original meaning … but she figured that “commercial interest provided publicity which reminded people of the occasion.” So just to be clear, Janet Heyden, wasn’t the founder of Mother’s Day, as technically it already existed, but it was quite different to what we understand it to be these days. The credit of the ‘founder’ of Mother’s Day goes to Miss Annie Jarvis from Philadelphia....

Australia’s Motorcycle Chariot Race...

Chariots are something from the Roman era, and not something to you associate (or see) these days, or even in the relatively recent past. But back in 1920s-1930s chariot motorcycle racing was a thing. Yes, for real! And Australia even got in on the act. I recently saw the photo above, on the History in Pictures Facebook page, and couldn’t believe what I saw. Two men in Roman style outfits, in chariots, with two motorbikes pulling them along. The caption read “Motorcycle Chariot Race in New South Wales, Australia, 1936”.  I was intrigued, I wanted to know if this was for real, so I headed to Trove. Sure enough, the motorcycle chariot race did happen. It was one of many events that were held at Sydney Showgrounds for the New South Wales Police Carnival on Saturday, 29 February 1936. With an estimated crowd of 50,000 this was AN EVENT!! Here’s just some of the articles I found on Trove about it … And to top it off there’s even a short video up on YouTube of the race. The National Film and Sound Archive (NFSA) have a great write up about the NSW Police Carnival day, together with a longer video showing more of the events, which is totally worth watching. Check that out here. And for the record, there was going to be two heats (two laps each), but a third was needed to determine the winner: Heat 1: Constable J. T. Riley 1, Constable Langham 2. Time, 59 3-5. Heat 2: Constable Langham 1, Constable Riley 2. Time, 60 2-5. Heat 3: Constable Riley 1, Constable Langham 2. Time, 1.1¾. So from seeing a very cool random vintage photo online, to a history lesson … what’s not to love...

Australia Day – We Are Australian...

For Australia Day this year I wanted to share with you a song that I love, and embraces everything about Australia … “I am Australian”. From the Aboriginals who of course were the first settlers, to the convicts and the free. The goldiggers and bushrangers, to the Anzacs and recent migrants … all of them, is what makes Australia the amazing, multi-cultural country it is today, and they all get a mention in this song. Personally I am a 6th generation Australian, whose roots lie in many countries around the world. I am Australian! I am Australian I came from the dream-time, from the dusty red soil plains I am the ancient heart, the keeper of the flame. I stood upon the rocky shore, I watched the tall ships come. For forty thousand years I’ve been the first Australian. I came upon the prison ship, bowed down by iron chains. I fought the land, endured the lash and waited for the rains. I’m a settler, I’m a farmer’s wife on a dry and barren run A convict then a free man, I became Australian. I’m the daughter of a digger who sought the mother lode The girl became a woman on the long and dusty road I’m a child of the depression, I saw the good times come I’m a bushy, I’m a battler, I am Australian We are one, but we are many And from all the lands on earth we come We share a dream and sing with one voice: I am, you are, we are Australian I’m a teller of stories, I’m a singer of songs I am Albert Namatjira, and I paint the ghostly gums I am Clancy on his horse, I’m Ned Kelly on...

21 Facts About the First Fleet...

Did you know that approximately 20% of Australians descend from convicts … yes, true! Having a convict in the family has become a badge of honour for many, and having a First Fleeter even more so. And while the term ‘convict’ tends to mean ‘criminal’, so many of the 162,000 who were transported to Australia weren’t actually ‘bad’. In fact, many were just trying to survive. So just how much do you know of your Australian convict history? In particular the First Fleet? Here’s some intriguing facts that you probably didn’t know. Why send convicts to Australia? Britain had shipped about 52,000 convicts to America between 1717 and 1775 before they started sending them to Australia. And it was because of the American Revolution in 1776 that Britain started sending their criminals to Australia. When and where did it leave from and arrive? The fleet left Portsmouth, in Hampshire, England on 13 May 1787, and arrived at Botany Bay, New South Wales, Australia between 18-20 January 1788 How many ships in the first fleet? The whole fleet consisted of 11 ships. 6 convict ships, 2 naval ships and 3 ships with supplies What are the names of the ships in the first fleet? H.M.S. Sirius, Charlotte, Alexander, Scarborough, Lady Penrhyn, Friendship, H.M.S. Supply, Prince of Wales, Golden Grove, Fishburn and Borrowdale Who was the captain of the first fleet? Captain Arthur Phillip What about Port Jackson? The fleet arrived at Botany Bay but as that place was deemed unsuitable as a settlement due to the lack of fresh water, the fleet sailed on to Port Jackson (Sydney Cove), New South Wales arriving on 26 January 1788 What’s so special about the date 26 January? 26 January marks the anniversary of the 1788...

6 January 1912 – Australia’s First Plane Crash...

6 January 1912, is the date Australia’s first official plane crash happened. But before going into that, just a little background information. Australia’s earliest recorded attempts at powered flying took place in 1909, and within a year, numerous aircrafts were being imported, with others being locally made. As you can imagine, some of these new flying machines proved less successful than others, with mild accidents on take-off occurring in several cases. However it was inevitable that a ‘proper’ aeroplane crash would take place sooner or later. William Ewart Hart is the man who’s name is now in Australia’s history as being the pilot of Australia’s first plane crash. Billy Hart (as he was known) was born in Parramatta, New South Wales in 1885, when at age 16 he was apprenticed to a local dentist. By 1906 was a registered dentist himself, and after registration he practiced as a dentist in Wyalong, where he rode the first motorcycle and drove the first car in town. Quite the man, no doubt! He went on to practice in Newcastle, New South Wales. In 1911, at age 26 Billy Hart learnt to fly and became the first man to hold an Australia aviator’s licence. His No. 1 Certificate of the newly-created Aerial League of Australia was granted on 5 December 1911. Hart imported a British aircraft for £1300 (approx $140,000 today), and maintained it in a tent at Penrith, New South Wales. However, shortly after its purchase, strong winds overturned the tent and the plane, reducing the aircraft to a wreck. Not to be defeated, Billy salvaged what he could, and built a biplane from the parts. On 6 January 1912 he was demonstrating his aircraft, and had military officer Major Rosenthal as a passenger,...