Monthly Archives: April 2019

DNA Down Under Roadshow

When I had to pull out of the Unlock The Past Alaskan Inside Passage genealogy cruise last year, my biggest disappointment was missing out on Maurice Gleeson and Michelle Patient’s DNA presentations as well as the “The Genetic Genealogist” Blaine Bettinger’s preconference day in Seattle.

So, immediately I found out that UTP was doing a DNA Down Under roadshow it didn’t take long to book myself in. And the best part – the Sydney conference will be held over 3 days!

Supporting international speaker Blaine Bettinger, is a lineup of Australian DNA “Royalty” – Louise Coakley, Helen Smith, Michelle Patient, Kerry Farmer and Fiona Brooker.

The Sydney conference is being held Thursday-Saturday, 29 to 31 August at the Castle Hill RSL Club and I was able to take advantage of the Early Bird pricing of $275 (ends 30 April after which the fee will increase to $335) and includes a light lunch and morning and afternoon tea for each day.

A preliminary programme is now available and, with three streams running concurrently, it is going to be very hard deciding which presentations to attend.

This event is for everyone including those who:

  • have not done a test yet and want to know how DNA can help
  • have tested but are not sure what to do next
  • have gone further, but know there is more to learn
  • consider themselves expert, or on the way there, but who want to learn more from the very best 

Prior to Sydney, the Roadshow will also be visiting Brisbane (14 August), Perth (17 August), Adelaide (20 August), Melbourne (23 August) and Canberra (26 August) with an Early Bird price of $125.

If you have any interest in DNA then this is an absolute must attend event.

Unlock The Past Cruising – Week 2

We are now into the second week of a 15-day Unlock the Past Genealogy Cruise to Singapore and the only disappointment has been caused by the weather which has seen us unable to tender from the ship at both Airlie Beach and Cairns.

While missing the Great Barrier Reef was a tad disappointing, it is obvious that those of us travelling on this cruise that are attending the UTP conference are nowhere near as disappointed as the general tourists onboard.

Us genies are definitely having a ball!

Extra time at sea equals extra time with our wonderful speakers who have come to the fore over-and-above their original 1-on-1 Help Desks as well as both David Rencher and Dr Richard Reid providing a couple of impromptu presentations on our enforced sea days.

However, late this afternoon, we say goodbye to Darwin and begin the final five days of the conference.

To kick off the talks we have Geoff Doherty speaking on Australia’s first real war involvement – the Boer War. After dinner, David Rencher will be speaking on Irish Valuation and Tithe Records.

David Rencher talking on Out of the Ashes – Irish Genealogical Collections

To have David onboard with us is a major coup as there is nothing David doesn’t know regarding Ireland and its records – as well as the huge research repository that is the FamilySearch Library in Salt Lake City, Utah.

In contrast to David’s complete genealogical wizardry, the presentations made by Dr Richard Reid have been nothing short of astonishing.

An Irishman by birth, Richard knows how to “tell” a story and has kept us all captivated. I think my favourite Richard Reid presentation must be “The Kingdom of the Ryans: An Australian settler family landscape”, although all of his World War I talks have been enthralling.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, with more than 40 years’ experience in family history research – several of which I also carried out professional research – there is always something new to learn or take away from attending a genealogical conference.

Part of our conference room – having tables to work at has been wonderful

More importantly, there is also the ability to network and help other attendees with brick walls. It’s amazing how a new pair of eyes can see what you have been missing!

When this cruise finishes in five days, I will return home and await the 17th Unlock The Past Genealogy Cruise – Adelaide to Tasmania from 11 to 19 March 2020. It will be a bitter sweet time as Alan Phillips has announced the Tasmanian cruise will be the final cruise undertaken by Unlock The Past.

Come on, all genealogists – let’s make UTP genealogy cruising go out with a bang!

Unlock The Past Cruising

I can’t say enough positive things about attending a genealogical conference — unless it also happens to include a cruise! Even so, the words wonderful, fabulous and excellent “do not” do a genealogical cruise justice.

The Australian genealogical community has been very blessed that we have Alan Phillips, of Gould Genealogy, along with his dedicated Unlock The Past team of Anthea Phillips, Alona Tester, Helen Smith and Eric and Rosemary Kopittke, who have been providing wonderful opportunities over the past eight years for genealogists — not just in Australia— but also from far places around the world to sample the fabulous world of genealogy cruising.

I admit I’m a late starter on these tours having only attended my first genealogy cruise in 2016 – New Zealand to Fremantle. And I couldn’t have asked for a better lineup of speakers which included Judy G. Russell and Paul Blake.

My second cruise with UTP should have been the 2018 trip to the Alaskan Inside Passage only to see me having to withdraw two days out from flying to Seattle to join the cruise due to an unexpected health problem.

So, it is only now, in 2019, that I am on my second cruise with UTP as we travel from Sydney to Singapore. And while it is only day four of this 15-day cruise, there is nothing that hasn’t come up to expectation from the Unlock The Past team.

To have David Rencher, Chief Genealogical Officer for FamilySearch, and Dr Richard Reid, Executive Officer for the Australian War Memorial in the project to return the Unknown Soldier to the Hall of Memory at the Memorial, has been a standout coup.

However, I don’t want to appear to be discrediting the other speakers on this cruise because they continually work to further their knowledge and update their topics accordingly.

No matter how much you think you know about genealogy, when attending any conference, taking in the latest presentation from a speaker (who undoubtedly has spent hours working on or updating their talk) there is always, no matter how small, something new will be learned.

And yes, as experienced as I am, I still take away something new from every conference I have attended from subjects I am well versed in. I am more than grateful that all our genealogical speakers go that extra length to bring to enthusiasts like me the latest updates, tips and methods for anything genealogy related.