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 to help out at the BEYOND BMDs conference featuring Else Churchill and Alec Tritton. They are the keynote speakers from the UK who are on the cruise, but after finishing it, they are doing a mini-tour afterwards, and I’m heading to Brisbane to help out at the seminar there …

… and by then we’re pretty much at the end of March!

Like I said it’ll all be fun, but it’ll be busy, and I’ll totally be playing catch-up when I’m back on South Australian soil.

And I promise I’ll report on it all when I get a chance.

DNA Down Under … an Event Like No Other!!

Welcome …

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.

Baline Bettinger with the new edition of his book

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 sat through numerous DNA talks before, and I have seen many walk out at the end more confused. However these talks, not so. People were so excited because they now ‘get it’, and were so eager to learn more.

A quote I noted from the Blaine’s “Introduction to DNA” talk was “use DNA to confirm or support your research”. In otherwords DNA is not a replacement for traditional research, merely an added tool you can utilise, and a powerful one at that. He said that if a major new record set was to suddenly be discovered, genies would go crazy using it to add and verify their current data. That’s how you should think of DNA testing.



the best introduction to DNA talk … ever!


Blaine was just one of a fantastic group of presenters who taught people about the various aspects of DNA and genetic genealogy including: the myths of DNA testing, how to interpret your results, how to use GEDmatch and DNA Painter, finding matches, using DNA to solve old family mysteries, as well and genetic genealogy standards and ethics and more! There was even a few special talks in different states: Perth was lucky enough to have the Producer of ‘Every Family Has a Secret’ show talk about that, while Sydney had talks from the Police Forensic Department, along with other talks on adoption, genomics and more!

Apart from everyone being able to understand the basics of genetic genealogy and DNA testing, one other thing that struck me were the ethics talks. The topic wasn’t new to me as I’ve heard the amazing Judy G. Russell talk on the topic, but I think it was an eye-opener to so many, with so many facets to consider.
– we need to inform testers of the risks BEFORE they test
– we should get consent from testers in writing
– we cannot transfer data to a different site without their consent (ie. take an Ancestry DNA test, but then also upload those results to GEDmatch and/or MyHeritage DNA)
– if you are managing a test for someone, before testing ask if they want to know about any ‘surprises’ or ‘unexpected results’ if they show up
– respect the wishes of those who don’t wish to test
– respect the privacy of those who have tested (ie. don’t share their results with others)
and a whole heap more!!

Louise Coakley spoke on the topic at most of states, while Blaine covered it in Sydney. Thanks to both of them, many have gone away much wiser and now understand the potentional ethical and legal ramifications of what DNA testing can mean.

not suprising, this talk was packed!

The last talk of both Day 2 and Day 3 in Sydney were panel discussion. The first was on DNA Ethics and again this brought up lots of interesting (and thought provoking) questions (and answers) from the panelists.

The second panel discussion was on DNA: A Look at the Future … again very interesting, and as someone said, it’d be interesting to have that recorded and play it back in 1-2 years time, and see what has and hasn’t happened in the ever-changing DNA world.

the panel L-R: Michelle Patient, Helen Smith, Brad Argent, Blaine Bettinger and Louise Coakley. Chaired by Kerry Farmer.


One of the best parts of a genealogy conference is meeting friends – old and new. This happened to some degree at the one-day events. After an intese day of learning, some stayed and had dinner together, but it happened a lot more in Sydney with three days for people to catch up! And of course there was the geneablogger photo is Sydney.

Official geneablogger photo, DNA Down Under Sydney
Back Row L-R: Susie Zada, Janelle Collins, Fran Kitto, Melanie Dunstan, Chez Leggatt, Kerry Farmer
Middle Row L-R: Patsy Daly, Sue Wyatt, Heather Clarey, Shelley Crawford, Pauleen Cass, Veronica Williams, Fiona Tellesson, Margaret Moxon, Jennie Fairs, Shauna Hicks, Judy Lofthouse, Maggie Gaffney
Front Row L-R: Sharn White, Alona Tester, Helen Smith, Blaine Bettinger, Jill Ball, Lilian Magill
Other geneabloggers at DNA Down Under Sydney, but who missed the photo: Maureen Trotter, Michelle Patient, Jan Gow, Louise Coakley, Diane Smith, Jenny Joyce

You know you’ve been to a good conference when everyone leaves absolutely exhausted, but also so disappointed that it’s over. There’s no doubt that was so many of us at DNA Down Under – particualarly after Sydney. But you also know it’s been a conference when people are asking when’s the next one. To that one I say … maybe 2021 … so stay tuned!!

There’s so much more I can say about the conference, but plenty of other bloggers have written as well, so take a moment to read those if you get a chance. But here’s just a few photos from the conference.

DNA Down Under Brisbane [photo credit: Alan Phillips]

the crowd in Adelaide

and Sydney is READY. TO. GO!!

I got a front row seat

pic with my ‘big sis’ and roomy, Helen Smith

awsome to catch up with these lovely ladies
L-R: Shelley Crawford, little ol me, Jill Ball and Shauna Hicks

I finally got a photo with Blaine!!

Alan Phillips, the organiser, and man who made DNA Down Under happen
[photo credit: Dorothy Arms]

love these bags!  [photo credit: Dorothy Arms]

Genetic Genealogy Tips & Techniques Facebook Group – click here
The Family Tree Guide to DNA Testing and Genetic Genealogy – click here
Shared Centimorgan tool – click here
International Society of Genetic Genealogy (ISOGG) – click here


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
– Getting the most from your MyHeritage results

In Sydney there’s 10 speakers over 3 days, with over 40 talks, so there’s too many to list, but check the program here. But in general thre’s everything from beginners, to ethics, to adoption, to ethnicity, to GEDmatch, to visual phasing, to DNA research plans, to a project using DNA to identify soldiers, as well as how to get the most out of your results with the different DNA companies, and a whole heap more.

So if you’ve not taken a test yet, but have been considering it come along and see how DNA can help with your research. Find out about the different DNA testing companies, as well as the different types of tests.

If you have taken a test but are at the “What now?” stage, come along and find out just that. What you can do with those results. How you interpret them. How you can find and contact matches. [This is totally where I’m at. I’ve done 3 different tests and just haven’t taken to time to do anything with them, so I’m expecting to be mindblown by what DNA can actually tell me once I understand it.]

And for those who have already done those steps, find out about a number of third party tools that can help you take your results even further.

The DNA Down Under roadshow runs from 14-31 August, so be sure to check the website for details of where and when for each city, along with the speakers and program.

Pre-bookings for tickets at Brisbane and Perth have closed, but tickets are still available at the door. The other states have a few more days to pre-book. And in case the event wasn’t incentive enough, everyone who pre-books automatically goes into the draw for over $17,000 in prizes!! You can see the full listing of prizes here.

So come along and learn a heap about genealogy and DNA, and meet and make new friends who love family history as much as you do. And if you’re heading to DNA Down Under in Brisbane, Adelaide or Sydney, please come up to the Gould Genealogy/Unlock the Past stand and say a big hello to me.

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 the dates of what’s on when:

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

If you haven’t yet booked, but are super keen to go – you’re in luck because as a DNA Down Under Ambassador I’ve been given a 1-day pass to giveaway (value $155). This can be used at any of the states, including Sydney (but just for a single day). The value is $155, and you’re getting to hear not only Blaine who is known as one to the best genetic genealogy speakers in the world, you’re going to hear the best from Australia and New Zealand as well. The speakers do vary from state to state, but Louise Coakley, Kerry Farmer. Mike Murray, Michelle Patient, Helen Smith, Mike Murray, Claire Forster, Shelley Crawford, Fiona Brooker, Gail Edwards, Brad Argent and Jason Reeve who along with Blaine, are going to teach you SO MUCH about DNA, you’ll be a pro by the end of the day!

To enter you need to answer 4 questions, and email me your answers.
1. If you’ve already tested, have you had any surprises with DNA? If you haven’t tested, do you think you’ll find any?
2. What do you hope that DNA will help you discover?
3. Have you made new family connections through DNA? If so, tell me a little about it.
4. If you win, which city do you intend to go to?

Send your responses to me at:, and be sure to get your entry in by Friday 12th July. The winner will be announced on social media that weekend (and emailed with details on how to get your free ticket).

THE Ts&Cs:
Sorry guys, but there does have to be a just few Ts&Cs.
1. You can only enter if you haven’t already booked
2. The winning ticket is not transferable
3. The ticket covers your entry to a day-long event at the the city of your choice, and includes lunch as well. But sorry, but airfares and accommodation are not covered.

More information on the event can be found at


UPDATE: Entries have closed. And the winner has been drawn, and CONGRATULATIONS goes to Helen Dell.