My “Mad March” Begins Early...

Here in South Australia we have a term called Mad March, which basically means that there are so many events going on throughout the month of March around the state, that it really does get crazy, hence the term “Mad March“. In reality I avoid Adelaide city during March as it is chaos, and just too busy for me … however tempt me with genealogy and that’s another thing, and now my February and March calendar is booked up. From not having travelled much in the last year or more – suddenly I have three trips almost back-to-back over the period of about a month. I’m excited, but exhausted before it starts. But looking forward to it all. First up I’m off the the United States to ROOTSTECH. It’s been three years since I was there, and I’ll be awesome to get back there and catchup with friends, meet new ones, have a big long wander through the exhibition hall (getting everyone’s autograph of course), and going to some talks as well. It’ll be a fun, exhausting four days of conferencing. Bring it on! Shortly after I get back, I’ll be heading off on UNLOCK THE PAST’S 17TH CRUISE to Tasmania. It’ll be nice to not have to travel prior to heading off, as this one leaves from Adelaide, then goes and visits Kangaroo Island (that’ll be nice to visit there again), and then on to Tasmania and back. Cruising for 8 days with great genealogy speakers and friends on board, it’ll be a wonderful conference, and great to see the places along the way. I just hope I’m not too jet-lagged to take it all in. And then shortly after I finish that, I’m heading off to Brisbane...

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...

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...

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...

31 Ways to Make the Most of National Family History Month...

August is here, which means Australia and New Zealand’s National Family History Month is here. The launch has happened, the events are underway, and you may well have attended a talk or two already. While there’s over 200 events scheduled, unfortunately not everyone is able to attend onsite events for various reasons, but even so there are still plenty of ways you can celebrate and be involved with National Family History Month. First up I do have to give big a shout-out to my good geniefriend Shauna Hicks, who originally came up with this idea of having a 31 ideas list few years ago for National Family History Month. And I must say I loved it. I even printed out the list, and ticked them off as I did them. This list is not a copy of Shauna’s but rather one that I’ve made up, but click on her name above for even more suggestions. Have a read through the list, see what you’d like to achieve, and count what you’ve done at the end of the month. You might be surprised. Contact a genealogy, family history or historial society near you Visit your local State Archives or library Write your life story (or at least begin it!) (click here for some topic suggestions) Interview a relative about their life story Hold a family reunion (it doesn’t have to be a big one, even a catchup with a reli or two) Attend a family or local history talk, seminar or information session Label some family photos Scan some of your photos Most genies I know have “piles of paperwork” (myself included). So filing is a must. However filing is never a fun job, but do it in small doses, and it’s...

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. 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...

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. 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. 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...

#NotAtRootsTech, But I Want to Be...

The world’s biggest genealogy event, RootsTech, has just begun, but I’m not there. To say I’m missing it, and my friends is an understatement. Why am I not there? Well I did go in 2017, and there is a lot of sea between Australia and the US, so it takes time to save dollars for those big plane trips … not to mention that Congress (the big Australian genealogy event, but not even in the same league as RootsTech), is on the next week in Sydney … and I’ll be going to that. So I look at my Faceboook feed and see so many friends who are there enjoying the sights, sounds and catch-ups of it all. Sigh … next year! I will get there next year! Anyway, so what makes RootsTech THE. MUST. ATTEND. genealogy event for so many from around the world? For me it is the socialising. The breakfasts, the dinners, even lunch if you’re lucky enough to get some (yes, it gets that crazy). Even the drinks after the day has finished. It’s the time where you get to catch up with friends (and make new ones) from all around the world. It’s the time where you’re not racing from one talk to the next, or trying to make your way around the expo hall … but the times when you can just sit and chat to someone one-on-one or just a small group of people. I have made great friendships from meeting at RootsTech. Don’t get me wrong, there are many, many awesome talks, and SO much to learn from the awesome speakers. And the Expo hall is something like you wouldn’t believe. It’s a place that seriously takes days to work your way around it all,...