Geelong Naval and Maritime Museum

Geelong Naval & Maritime MuseumSometimes I get cross and sometimes I get over it and other times I just have to speak out.

What makes me cross?  When a group of volunteers work hard for their group and they just don’t get the support they deserve!  The Geelong Naval & Maritime Museum is one such case.  Years ago I created a page on my web site for this worthy group.  I was later asked to remove that page as the City of Greater Geelong was catering for them on their updated and upgraded web site.  I had no problems with that request because things like opening times can change and it was better for there to be an “official” site.  As with all other societies and museums in the region, I added them to my Geelong & District Research Centres page with a link to the City of Greater Geelong web site.

Last night I received an email from someone in Melbourne asking if the Geelong Naval & Maritime Museum was closed as the link no longer worked and searching the City of Greater Geelong web site didn’t come up with any matches for the Museum.

I eventually found a web page [not the City of Greater Geelong] however the opening times proved to be wrong.

OK – it’s easy to say that any group can create their own web page, but in this case the Museum is owned by the City of Greater Geelong and they HAD been included on the CoGG web site.  So why has the City of Greater Geelong removed them?  It could be a genuine mistake or oversight but whatever the reason, it’s WRONG!  I hope that the City of Greater Geelong fixes this omission and supports the volunteers at the Geelong Naval & Maritime Museum.

The current details:

Geelong Naval & Maritime Museum
rear of “Osborne House”
Swinburne Street
North Geelong Vic 3215
Open: Daily except Saturday, 10.00 am – 3.00 pm
Phone: 5277 3808

Get behind the Geelong Naval & Maritime Museum – visit them and show your support and/or ask the City of Greater Geelong why they are no longer supporting them on their web site!

Geelong Heritage Centre … moved

National Wool MuseumIf you haven’t caught up with the news, the Geelong Heritage Centre has moved while the new Library and Heritage Centre is built on the site of the old premises.

The Heritage Centre is currently closed during the move and will re-open on Thursday 27th June on the 3rd floor of the National Woold Museum at 26 Moorabool Street, Geelong.

The good news – the Heritage Centre will be open Mon-Fri 10.00 am – 5.00 pm.  This will make things a lot easier for visitors to the region as they can make a “long weekend” of their visit and go to the Heritage Centre on a Monday or Friday.

IMPORTANT: Much of the Heritage Centre Archives are now stored off-site and you will need to order certain items in advance AND check that they are ready for your visit.  Keep checking the Heritage Centre web site for details.

It’s also important to make use of the Geelong Record Series Catalogue and other finding aids to ensure your visit is productive.

In the meantime, enjoy the extended opening hours!

Who built the Great Ocean Road?

Building the Great Ocean RoadWhat an important project and one that YOU can get involved in!  Iain Grant and the Portland Family History Group have been compiling a list of anyone who had a connection with building the Great Ocean Road between 1919 and 1932.  Unfortunately the “official” records were destroyed during WWII so the only way to compile a comprehensive list is with help from you – the descendants, families, or friends of those workers.

And we’re not just talking about the actual road workers – there are so many others who should be on this list.  Local farmers and land owners who helped with provisions.  Suppliers, carters, engineers, surveyors, pastoral care workers, medical and health workers, wives and families who supported their husbands, fathers and relatives.

Who provided the tents and supplies for the various camps along the length of the road?  There were 2,400 ex-servicemen and 500 civilians working on this project.  And how many more were associated with the project?

The 2013 Press Release gives so much more information – it is worth reading and may give you some ideas on how you can contribute – photos, information, names …  It also includes contact details for Iain and the Portland Family History Group.

Have a look at the Great Ocean Road Workers facebook page – the photos are definitely worth seeing.

And if you can help with this terrific project it will help everyone.

United Service Home

United Service Home, DrysdaleMajor-General TULLOCH opened the United Service Home at Drysdale on Wednesday 2 July 1891.  When he arrived in Victoria as commander of the Victorian military forces in 1890, he was appalled to discover that a number of old soldiers and sailors of the Imperial forces were homeless and destitute in Melbourne.  Funds were raised to build the Home which was to be used for two classes of pensioners: those requiring a little financial assistance [sustenance] and those requiring somewhere to live.

To commemorate the 100th anniversary of the establishment of the United Service Home, Eric Hourn published “A Drysdale Romance” featuring “United Services [sic] Home”.

This publication is still available from the Bellarine Historical Society and includes lists of residents and sustenance recipients.  Since this list was compiled, further research has enabled the Society to update some details of names and dates.  A new research project commenced to properly identify these men from the updated alphabetical list.

The first soldier selected was Jeremiah BROWN – one of the first eight residents of the Home.  We certainly didn’t expect to uncover the details that emerged from this research!  The story of Jeremiah appears in the June 2013 issue of Ancestor, the quarterly journal of the Genealogical Society of Victoria.  This edition of Ancestor is on its way to members and subscribing libraries and will shortly be available for purchase through the GSV Online Shop.

Jeremiah BROWNJeremiah may not have been what he said he was, but you just can’t help developing a soft spot for him!  And the old saying “you learn something new every day” was so relevant for Jeremiah BROWN.  The Waterloo Cyclorama in Melbourne was as fascinating as the story of Jeremiah.

What will we find when we research some of the other residents of the United Service Home?  Perhaps one of your ancestors or relatives appears in the list – why not check and see?

Winner of 2011 PMI Short History Prize

Prahran Mechanics' Institute: Short History Prize [2011]The winner of the 2011 Prahran Mechanics’ Institute Victorian History Library Short History Prize was our very own Dr Peter Mansfield.

Most locals involved in family or local history in Geelong & District will know Peter and his involvement with many groups.  He has been convenor of the Geelong & District Historical Association, on the committee of the Geelong Historical Society, guest speaker to many of our societies, and formerly CEO of the Geelong Regional Libraries.  He has researched and written many articles on some of his favourite subjects including Free Libraries and local politicians.

Able, gifted, trustworthy and disloyal: the political fortunes of Henry Bournes Higgins, MLA for Geelong, 1894-1900 is the title of Peter’s winning entry.  Peter has very kindly provided us with a copy for all to enjoy.

Congratulations Peter!

Darwin – NOT in Geelong and District!

It might sound funny talking about Darwin on the Geelong & District blog site but there is definitely a connection!

I try to get in a quick trip to Darwin once a year to visit family – preferably in June when the weather is terrific – low humidity and maximum of about 28-30 and minimum about 18.  Mind you, yesterday morning [Saturday 11th June] you could pick the locals a mile away – they were all wearing jumpers, cardigans or coats!  I was pleasantly comfortable in trousers and t-shirt.  Of course that’s fairly understandable as it was 3 degrees when I left Melbourne a week ago!

Back to the connection with our region!  The Genealogical Society of the Northern Territory are hungry for visiting speakers – if the opportunity arises, they go all out to plan a seminar around the speaker.  This is the second year I’ve done a seminar for GSNT – and they certainly make you feel welcome and appreciated.  Shauna Hicks is another “annual” visitor and GSNT make the most of her visits as well.

Last year I did 3 presentations for them.  This year I gave them a list of 10 or 12 to choose from and they chose 4!  I certainly found it interesting to see the ones they chose and their order of preference [in case I couldn’t manage doing 4 plus a general Q&A session with no limitations!]

Their first choice?  Scots in Geelong & district to 1860.  It’s normal to ask people living in Darwin where they come from – because there aren’t that many actually born and bred there – but there are a LOT of people whose ancestors spent time in Geelong & District!

The second presentation was Look Local: it’s not all on the web – one of my favourites highlighting the importance and the benefits of local & family history societies.

The third one was back to Geelong & District with the presentation I’ve given well over 100 times – Point Henry: an amazing place.  Again many of the audience connected with Point Henry as it was the landing site for their immigrant ancestors in Australia.

The last presentation was one of my “left-field” ones – can guarantee that the majority of the audience may have never heard of this resource and like my Sewerage Records presentation, it’s a bit of an eye opener for everyone … Heritage Studies: a great resource.

As I said earlier, the Darwin locals are so appreciative of speakers from down south.  I even had one lady drive up from Katherine the day before [300+ Kms], stay in a hotel in Darwin overnight, and drive back after the seminar.  She said how it was worth every cent and every kilometre!  I think I was the privileged one with someone prepared to go to those lengths to come to a seminar.

I had a ball at the seminar yesterday – terrific audience, lots of great questions, and well looked after by the GSNT – what more could you ask for?

So if you or a friend is planning a trip to Darwin, and you have experience in giving talks to those in the Genie world, why not get in touch with the GSNT and offer your services!  You won’t regret it!  They do a terrific job up here and deserve the support from the rest of Australia.

Oh – I’ve been invited back again next year – and I’m looking forward to it.

In the meantime it looks like we might get a couple of Darwinites visiting Geelong in September for the Victorian Expo – and we’ll certainly welcome their to our region.

Colac in North Carolina!

It was an exciting time for our region last Thursday [19th May] … Colac & District Historical Society were joint winners in their category in the Sir Rupert Hamer Records Management Awards!

Not only was it exciting for them to win the award but their entry is an amazing story.  Their member, Dawn Peel, was the instigator when she found a reference to the Colac Court of Petty Sessions 1849-1860 in the special collections at Duke University, Durham, North Carolina.  She thought it was an error until the duty librarian scanned the first few pages … they included the name of Hugh MURRAY (pictured) … she then knew it was no error.

You can read the whole story on the PROV Wiki site.  This is an amazing blend of history and technology … a digital copy of the register is available on a server in the United States, the story and full transcription of the register is on a server at the Public Record Office Victoria, and the full index is included in the Geelong & District database on yet another server in Victoria!

Congratulations to Dawn and the Colac & District Historical Society on their win in the category “Community Archives – providing enhanced records access” and congratulations also to the Knox Historical Society for their project on school photos – both were worthy joint winners.

All category winners can be seen on the PROV web site with more details on the projects to be added there later.

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