Day 1 – Victorian Expo

Wow – day 1 of the Victorian Expo (Geelong) was terrific – caught up with heaps of friends, didn’t stop talking ALL day [surprise anyone?] and we launched our new “book” [CD] … Irish in Geelong & District.

What a great day – and there’s still time for anyone to get along to the second day – today – and that’s where I’m heading now.  Hope to see some of you there.

I know I’ll be doing plenty of talking again today – 2 presentations – “Look local: it’s not all on the web” and of course my favourite “Sewerage records” – the one that has everyone laughing and completely gobsmacked by the end at this wonderful resource.  And if anyone has heard this before, you might want to hear it again – some terrific news about Sewerage records – something exciting that happened VERY recently that you might find just a tad interesting!

Irish in Geelong & district – NEW publication

Am I excited?  You bet I am!  Just over a year ago Pam Jennings & I published Scots in Geelong & district to 1860.  The obvious question from people was when are you going to do the Irish one?  Of course we replied – “can’t be done”!

OK – we’ve proved ourselves wrong.  At the Victorian Expo tomorrow we’re launching Irish in Geelong & district.  This publication will ONLY be produced on CD and there will NOT be a print-on-demand version.  Why?  Because there are 1,711 pages!  That doesn’t include an index because the book is in Acrobat (.pdf) format and is fully text searchable.  Also the A-Z section is in surname order for easy browsing.  Mind you, it takes a while to browse 1,700+ pages.  At a later stage the full index will be added to the Geelong & district database.

It isn’t a list of ALL Irish who came to Geelong & district but a HUGE number of records that may include your ancestors – if not you’ll certainly get an understanding of the wealth of information available in our region.

The CD will normally be $30 and details on how to purchase a copy will appear on the Geelong & district web site after the Expo, but for an Expo special it can be purchased at the Victorian Expo on Friday 2nd or Saturday 3rd September for $25.00.  Visit us at the Geelong & District Historical Association stand at the Expo – Table 18 – and make sure you visit all the other Geelong & District Historical Societies and Family History groups in our block of tables 13-24.  We’ve got heaps and heaps of books for sale from our region.

And if you haven’t booked to attend the Expo, don’t worry.  Anyone can come and it will only cost you $5.00 to get in.

It’s now less that 24 hours to the start of the Expo – and I’m sure my to-do-list includes more items than there are minutes before it all starts!

See you there!

Assisted Immigrants – lied about their age and/or their occupation!

How many times have we heard this or found them in our own family research?  It’s “common knowledge” that immigrants lied about their age and / or their occupation to be eligible for the various assisted immigrant schemes – that’s why it’s so good to find proof of this accepted statement!

Digging through an old box of papers in a cupboard at the Geelong Family History Group, a bundle of exciting photocopies was found.  Some are being indexed / transcribed to be added to the Geelong and District Database.  There’s a lot there and the majority relate to the Geelong region.

One two-page document stood out – unlike the others, there was no source written on these pages, however I believe I’ve identified the VPRS number and unit at the Public Record Office Victoria.  Hopefully in the next two weeks we’ll be able to confirm that and then see just what other similar documents we may find in this collection.  This two-page document was a covering letter attached to a “List of Ineligible Immigrants by the ship ‘Joshua’ arrived at Melbourne 30th January 1852″.

Although these arrivals were in Melbourne, I’ve added them to the Geelong and District Database.  And if we find the right VPRS number we’ll definitely be looking for Geelong arrivals to add to the database.  In the meantime I’ve included the entries from this document below.  And take note of the comment for the final entry!

Details of the covering letter can be seen on the Geelong and District Potpourri page.  The letter was dated 9 March 1852.  I haven’t checked each immigrant but the few I have checked were either from Ireland or Scotland.  I’m not sure of the implications of being classed as “ineligible” – these immigrants arrived, some were assigned to employment and others went to family already in the colony.

I hope you find this document as interesting as I did!

MARRIED COUPLES  
ANDREWS, Thomas & Mrs A Lighterman; since employed in a foundry – described as an Agricultural Laborer
BOWLES, James & Mary Ages given in the Nominal List 39 and 39.  They are apparently between 50 and 60, and quite unfit for work
FOURBISTER, Robert & Mrs A Builder, described as an Agricultural Laborer
GUDGEON, Nicholas & Mrs A Fisherman, described as an Agricultural Laborer
MELDRUM, James & Mrs Salesman for five years to Mr Anderson, a Merchant of Dundee, described as a Shepherd
RICKARD, John & Mrs A Gentleman’s Servant for 9 or 10 years, described as an Agricultural Laborer
ROWE, George & Mrs A Gentleman’s Servant, described as an Agricultural Laborer
ROUGET, John & Mrs A Guernsey Fisherman, described as an Agricultural Laborer
SHARMAN, Thomas & Mrs Age stated as 34 – apparently 50 and unfit for work
STANBURY, John & Mrs A Miller, who had failed in business, described as an Agricultural Laborer
SEXTON, Morris & Mrs States that the agent at Killaloo [?sp] (Dr Bourke) told him to describe himself as an Agricultural Labourer – he is really a Coachman
SINGLE MAN  
SIMPSON, William A Coachman, described as an Agricultural Laborer
SINGLE WOMEN  
BOYD, Margaret Age stated as 32 – she is apparently between 45 and 50
BOYD, Mary Age stated as 24 – she is apparently 40
REARDON, Catherine Age stated as 38 – she says she is 52.  This is a very bad case as the woman looks older than her real age

Clifton Springs – Heritage in Modern Art

This is really worth visiting!  And for me it was a great way to cap off two weeks holiday.  After 10 days in Darwin with family and friends, I had arrived back in Melbourne [absolutely freezing!], then did all those tasks you try to get done when you’re not working.  Friday was car servicing day [ouch].  Saturday it was a drive into Geelong to buy my next long-term train ticket [big ouch].  Then it was time for the eye test that had been delayed TOO long [another ouch].

So driving back home from Geelong I wasn’t feeling in a holiday mode and definitely feeling much poorer!  I wanted to do something “holidayish” but it had to be something that cost nothing.  Then I had the answer – I had my new tiny digital camera in my bag – a birthday present I was spoilt with in Darwin.  I hadn’t seen the new interpretive signage at the Dell at Clifton Springs – so I detoured up to the north of the Bellarine Peninsula.

Clifton Springs has a wonderful history – the first mineral springs and spa in Victoria – but very little of that history and heritage have survived.  In 1998 the City of Greater Geelong commissioned archaeologist Roger Luebbers to investigate the area.  A second more detailed report followed an initial archaeological dig in 1999.  Through the Bellarine Historical Society I spent some time with Roger providing the information and photographs that the Society had in its collection for these reports.  Roger made several recommendations however nothing more happened until 2007 when a large archaeological dig was commissioned by the City of Greater Geelong.  I was so fortunate to work with Roger on more detailed research on the site at that time – the sort of research we could not have justified for the Society.  It was also exciting to spend time at the site to see what had literally been unearthed.  The end result was more recommendations together with a wonderful 121-page document with a detailed history, images, maps, plans and diagrams.  Copies of this and the two earlier reports are in the library at the Bellarine Historical Society, local libraries, and at the City of Greater Geelong.

This report can be downloaded in 2 parts:

If those links stop working, Google “Luebbers” and “Archaeological Investigation Clifton Springs Spa Resort”.

It was November 2010 before any further action.  The City of Greater Geelong agreed to fund interpretive signage for the Dell at Clifton Springs.  And that is what I saw on Saturday.

My congratulations to all involved – it is stunning, modern, different, and certainly brings the area alive with the information about this Heritage Area – which is also on the Victorian Heritage Register.

There are three main interpretive signs and they really are spectacular.  Artist, Cinnamon Stephens, was commissioned to design these “signs” – and what a design!  They are in the shape of a torpedo bottle – the bottles used at Clifton Springs for the mineral water.  They are full of “bubbles” representing the water from the Seltzer Well.  The beautiful historic photographs and text are in the bubbles.  There is one at the top of the cliff above the Dell.  It can be seen from the dining room and car park of the Clifton Springs Golf Club.

From a distance it would be hard to resist – you are absolutely drawn to this unusual structure to see what on earth it is!  From the base of this sign, a new sealed path leads you around to the bluff.

Part of this project involved a new lookout built at the top of the bluff with a view across the Dell and along the shore where the Sulphur Spa Bath and Mineral Springs bottling factory were situated.  A second “sign” is located at this lookout enabling visitors to visualise what it was like in its hey-day.

From here it is again hard to resist the urge to do down to the Dell and see what this is really all about.

Take the time to go down the steps to the Dell, and then follow the path along to the site of the beautiful Spa Bath building [the photo at the beginning of this blog].  Sadly none of the buildings have survived but we are fortunate to have many photographs in the Bellarine Historical Society collection.  The third “sign” is located here and at low tide visitors can explore the wells and channels that were part of this complex.

The signs include a circle of bricks at the base representing the numerous wells located at this historic site – bricks from some of the wells were used in these structures.

Again, congratulations to all involved: Matthew Jackman [initially from the City of Greater Geelong and later with the TGM Group managing the project], Cinnamon Stephens, the artist, and the representatives of the local community groups who worked on the text and images for the signs.  It really has ended up being a wonderful blend of modern representative art depicting an important heritage site – well worth a visit!

The Dell is located at the end of Clearwater Drive at Clifton Springs, near Geelong.

New database to search

I’ve combined the five major databases and numerous smaller ones into a single searchable database but with the flexibility to narrow the search by Groups [which generally equate to former databases] and Index Titles [sub groups within the database or items such as Book Titles].

There are more than 800,000 entries but don’t forget to read the tips, warnings and information section to get the most out of your search.

Try it out!

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