Genimates at Congress 2018

One of the big pluses for me attending a genealogy conference is that I get to catch up with my genimates.

Australia is a big country, and we don’t have many ‘national’ (big genie events), so therefore we don’t see each other often. But Congress brought people from interstate, and even some from overseas as well, and it was great to catch up with them all, and meet some others as well. Some who I’ve known through social media, and others I know of by name.

As I was an exhibitor at Congress and didn’t get to any of the talks, I can’t write any report on those for you… but based on what the other geneabloggers have written they were awesome. GeniAus (Jill Ball) is collating a list of all Congress related blog posts, and you can check them out here.

So for me when I wasn’t at my stand, I was off chatting to other exhibitors and asking them if they’d be kind enough to sign my autograph book (yes, I did take it with me), and also catching others for a quick pic when they were nearby. So my post here is simply pics of some of the genimates that I caught up with there.

afternoon tea with by good friends and roommates, Judy Russell and Helen Smith, combined with a view from the 35th floor … what a way to start my trip in Sydney

dinner with friends

L-R: Ruth Standring, Sharn White and Shelley Crawford

myself with Lilian Magill, with the collection of teddy bears behind

geneablogger friends L-R: Fran Kitto, Jenny Joyce, myself and Jennie Fairs

I was excited to meet Eden and Simon from Traces Magazine

it’s always wonderful to catch up with my wonderful friends Lee-Anne and Rob Hamilton

young Aussie genies and geneabloggers: Tania and Shelley

myself with Thom Reed from FamilySearch. Ok I’m short, but he is TALL too

the whole FamiilySearch team at Congress 2018

genimates Pauleen Cass and Jill Ball

I finally met the one and only, lovely Danielle from SAG

this is my GeniAus and Lonetester photo

more young genies and bloggers: Angela and Caitlin

a quick selfie with fellow geneablogger Alex Daw

I managed to grab Paul Milner long enough for a pic

a quick selfie with two Aussie geneabloggers: Ruth Standring and Emily Peace

it was fabulous to finally meet Tara, one half of the “Family Discovery Show” team

the always lovely Lisa Louise Cooke

Eric and Rosemary Kopittke

the official geneablogger group photo at Congress 2018 (with a few known to be missing)

So Congress came, and Congress went. It was a busy 4 days. It was a fun 4 days. And let’s hope that a group takes on Congress for 2021, and then we’ll see you all again in 3 years time.

Congress 2018 – It Begins

Three long years after we were all in Canberra, and an even longer week this week (don’t ask, it’s a long story) … Congress (Australia’s big genealogy event) is finally here.

It’s no RootsTech by any means. But then again NOTHING is like RootsTech other than RootsTech. But Congress is THE BIG genie conference for Australia. It’s the event that brings people from all across the nation, and even across the ditch, together to, as Mr Lonetester says, “geek out on genealogy” for 4 whole days.

The conference began on Friday, so I arrived Thursday afternoon, which was timely as I was able to have a very lovely afternoon tea with my roommates (Helen Smith and Judy Russell), and then headed out to dinner with a bunch of others for a pre-Congress get together. It was great to catch up friends who I’ve not seen for ages, and make some new ones too. There was laughs, there was photos, and there was ribbons, beads and geniecards.

Judy G. Russell, Helen V. Smith and the afternoon tea view!!

some of the group that went out for dinner

myself, and Lilian Magill

Friday started early for me, as an exhibitor we had to get in early to set up! And even at that time of day (just on “light-o-clock”) the International Convention Centre (ICC) was packed. Was this a heap of eager genies? Well yes … but not that many. It turned out that there were a number of other events being held at the ICC on that day as well … an aromatherapy conference, a tattoo expo, an orthodontic conference and more. So yes, there were literally thousands of people around for a while, till all the events started.

Sydney’s International Convention Centre

the events on in the ICC on Friday

and even more ….

So after 2hrs of lugging boxes in, and setting up the our stand, the exhibition opened at 9am, and for a change we (the Gould Genealogy/Unlock the Past stand) were pretty much good to go.

our Gould Genealogy / Unlock the Past table is ready to go

Alan and Anthea are ready to go

Friday was “Family Finder Day” which meant that there was a bunch of day-only visitors. This was a great option for those who couldn’t attend for the whole for days, or who just wanted to see the exhibition. It also meant it was a busy,busy day for most exhibitors.

I can’t say anything about the Welcome address and function, or the talks from Friday as I didn’t go to any of them, but I guarantee other bloggers will write about it, so seek an eye out for their reports.

I’ve got plenty more photos from Congress so stay tuned for the next post.

Get Ready for the Congress 2018 Experience

Ok, so who’s ready for Congress 2018?

– You’ve registered as a delegate
– booked your accommodation
– sorted our your travel to get there
– got your tree all up-to-date, and on appropriate devices (just in case you get time to research, or even better, find a ‘cousin’ there)
– you’ve got (and packed) your geniecards (I know you won’t forget those)
– and now you are eagerly counting down the days … (there’s 118 days for those who were wondering)

If you’ve done all of that, awesome! I love that you’re so organised, and so excited about it, but seriously you don’t need to read on, as this is really for those who haven’t booked and are still ‘thinking about it’.

Let me tell you that Congress is not “just an event”. Personally I would call it more of an experience. I have been to RootsTech in the US (the world’s biggest genie event), and that for sure is experience, not that Congress is on the same scale, but still.

There’s far more to it than just going to some talks. There’s the whole social aspect of it, either as organised ones or spontaneous catchups with a few people. Expect to meet a heap of new people, all who whole LOVE genealogy as much as you do. So trust me you’ll make a heap of new friends. And if you’ve been doing genealogy a while, you’ll catch up with others you’ve met before, or maybe just on social media. You can also check out what’s for sale from the bunch of vendors who will be there, and of course you’ll be learning from many of the world’s best speakers.

You will be on a high the whole time, and you’ll come away so enthused … totally ready and raring to get stuck into your research again.

Sounds good? It is. And what if I told you that you get FOUR WHOLE DAYS of it?

Don’t just take my word for it.

Check out the speakers here, here and here (yes, there are a LOT of speakers! So many wonderful speakers to learn from.)

And check out the program here. But just as a taster, there are talks on awesome apps that can use to help you with your search, 17th Century English sources. There also talks on German, Irish, Aboriginal, Australian research, Military, Freemasonry, DNA, ethics, digitising, organisation, blogging, writing, education records, archives and assisted emigration are also covered … and SO, MUCH. MORE!

And note the details: Friday 9-Monday 12 March 2018, International Convention Centre, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Any once you’ve done that I’m sure you’ll be booking, so I look forward to seeing you in March next year!

To keep up with Congress news you can check out their website and follow them on social media …
– the official Congress Facebook page
– the Genimates at #Congress_2018 Facebook group
– the 15th Australasian Congress on Genealogy and Heraldry event on Facebook
– and on Twitter @Congress_2018

And one last note for the social media peeps here … the official hashtag for Congress is #Congress_2018.

Congress 2015: Catch Ups, Meet Ups, Great Talks and Sore Feet

I was fortunate to be able attend the 14th Australasian Congress on Genealogy and Heraldry recently. I was just of the 500+ avid genealogists who made their way to the National Convention Centre in Canberra to attend this once-every-three-years event.

National Convention Centre, Canberra. Source: personal collection

National Convention Centre, Canberra. Source: personal collection

It was fun. It was tiring. It was exciting to meet so many people that I have met online. And it was fabulous to catch up with others I have met before.

Unlike most of the others (in reality probably all) who’ve been reporting on Congress, I wasn’t there to attend the talks, but rather be there as an exhibitor – helping out on the Gould Genealogy & History, Unlock the Past, Unlock the Past Cruises stands. I arrived in Canberra late Thursday night, which was too late to set up, so that meant an early start on Friday morning … to get in and set up before the exhibition opened at  10am that day.

Surprisingly we did alright, and were pretty much ready to go … and I even had time to pick up my Congress kit and grab a cup of hot chocolate before the morning tea break.

some of my 'stash' of goodies from Congress

some of my ‘stash’ of goodies from Congress
Source: personal collection

Morning tea time was when the exhibition hall first opened to the public, and for exhibitors that was when it got rather crazy. We had a pretty big stand, and the five of us at the stand (Alan, Helen, Rosemary, Eric and myself) we were kept non-stop busy until the next talk was due to start. After a little breather, the same thing happened at lunch break – so it was just as well we ate before the official lunchbreak started.  As for that hot chocolate that I bought prior to it all starting … well … let’s just say it was no longer hot by the end of the day when I got back to it.

our Unlock the Past stand at Congress 2015. Source: Lauren Waters

our Unlock the Past stand at Congress 2015.
Source: Lauren Waters

Throughout the whole Congress it was very much a case of mass-influx of people for the breaks, and mass-exodus of people when the talks were on again – which is to be expected.

The Congress organisers did well with the food (morning tea, lunch and afternoon tea), which was all served in the exhibition hall area, and there were tables and chairs to sit down, though probably not enough for everyone to do so at once.

Anyway during the not-so-busy times, is when exhibitors (myself included) meet up with the other exhibitors. Catching up with those you know from previous events, and meeting others that were there for the first time. It was great to catch up with a number of people I have met before, but hadn’t seen for some time, while also meeting some new people who wee exhibiting for the first time.

I’ve been reading some of Carol Baxter’s books, and wanted to get the others that I hadn’t got yet … so I made it to her stand, and bought a bundle of books that I had to find room for in my suitcase to bring home.

new books to find room for on my bookcase

new books to find room for on my bookcase
Source: personal collection

I briefly caught up with Cassie from Inside History magazine and Irish Wattle, but she was busy (which isn’t surprising). But as I’d just received a “your magazine subscription is about to expire”  notification, I did manage to pop over to her stand and resubscribe … and I even got a discount for doing so at the Conference, which was an added bonus.

Inside History Magazine stand at Congress 2015. Source: personal collection

Inside History Magazine stand at Congress 2015.
Source: personal collection

Vicki, Melissa and Josh were kept busy at the Findmypast stand, explaining to people about the records FMP has, and how to use their website. And as a bonus for attendees they had a special 1 month offer which was popular.

Findmypast at Congress 2015 Source: personal collection

Findmypast at Congress 2015
Source: personal collection

And Ben and Christine from the Ancestry stand were as well.

Ancestry stand at Congress 2015Source: personal collection

Ancestry stand at Congress 2015
Source: personal collection

There were a few new names amongst the exhibitors. Those such as ReplayU, Finders Cafe, Endangered Heritage and Preservation Australia (ok, they’re not new, but I’d not caught up with them before, so it was nice to meet each of them.

As I mentioned I was there to primarily be on the stand, however I did manage to get to a few talks, all of which I found very useful.

– Heraldry and the Genealogist, by Stephen Szabo
– Bankrupts and Insolvents in Mid 19th Century England, by Sue Reid
– Interpreting and Evaluating Name Lists, by David Rencher
– Finding Your Ancestors in the Genealogical Haystack, by Heather Garnsey

All of these were great talks. I found the speakers knowledgeable and very inspiring … now, if I just had some to spend on my own family history …

Monday was a quieter day, people were worn out after 3 sold days of soaking up everything they can . And I was exhausted from being on my feet for three days straight. So while it was sad to see it end, it was also needed.

Anyway  I’d like to thank the Congress 2015 organisers. They did a great job. With the venue, the stands, the meals, the speakers (at least those I know and others I heard about) – and at least from my side of things everything ran smoothly, though I know from experience of being on the organising side, that it never works that way in reality.

The one disappointment for me was that while the exhibition hall closed at 1pm on the Monday, the exhibitors weren’t told what time we’d have to be out, so we assumed we have until Congress was over (ie. around 4pm), so the fact that guys came in to dismantle the booths shortly after 1pm, and we ended up also being kicked out, was incredibly annoying and a bummer of a way to finish Congress.

Anyway I want to leave you with this quote that Heather Garnsey ended her Haystack talk with …

“Absence of evidence
is not
evidence of absence!”