Current & Upcoming Events in the Western District

UPDATED 23 March –

We are really spoilt for choice over the coming months because some more history related events have come to light since I published this post on Monday. You’ll find the three new events added below…


Some great history related events are either happening or coming up in the Western District over the next few months.

Running now until 28 April at the Port Fairy Museum and Archives is a travelling exhibition “Submerged” about shipwrecks along the south-west coast and Australia wide.  Port Fairy is a good place to host an exhibition about wrecks with fourteen wrecks recorded within Port Fairy bay alone.  You can find out more at the museum’s Facebook page Port Fairy Museum and Archives or website.

PORT FAIRY MUSEUM & ARCHIVES, GIPPS STREET.

The Glenelg Shire Council Cultural Collection exhibition “Gone But Not Forgotten…The Lost Buildings of Portland” is now on at the Portland Arts Centre until 26 April. The exhibition includes a display of photos and other items on the long-gone buildings of Portland.

An exhibition curated by the Casterton RSL will look at the Centenary of the RSL will begin on 2 April at the Casterton Town Hall foyer.  You can find out more at the shire’s Facebook page Glenelg Shire Council Cultural Collection.

Near Lake Bolac on 28 April will be an unveiling of a plaque at the former Mellier State School. The plaque will remember the 100th anniversary since the school was moved to Norbank Road, Lake Bolac.  You can find out more on the Historic Lake Bolac Facebook page.

On the weekend of 18 & 19 May is the Hamilton Pastoral Museum May rally.  You can see some of the sights…and sounds of the museum in this video from my visit to the October 2018 rally.  Look for further rally information on the museum’s Facebook page Hamilton Pastoral Museum Inc or the museum website.

Also on 18 May, the Warrnambool Family History Group are holding a seminar with four guest speakers each with great topics including Ken Flack, a genealogist and historian from Horsham speaking on taking a different approach to research; Janet McDonald, the President of the Warrnambool and District Historical Society talking about using local records to research land and houses around Warrnambool; Kate Moneypenny from the State Library of Victoria talking about researching family history at the SLV. You can find out more on the groups Facebook page Warrnambool Family History Group or their website.

For those interested in DNA and Family History, the Colac & District Family History Group is hosting a workshop on Friday 31 May from 1pm to 3pm with a representative from Ancestry. This must be a Western District first on such a topic so take the chance to attend. The Colac & District Family History Group are doing some great things. For further updates, check out the group’s Facebook page Colac & District Family History Group and website.  It’s a new website too so definitely take a look.  

The following day, Saturday 1 June is the 2019 VAFHO (Victorian Association of Family History Organisation) Expo at the Chevalier Centre, Monivae College in Hamilton from 10.00am to 4.00pm.  Take the opportunity to hear some of the best family history speakers right here in the Western District. I’ll keep you updated with details including guest speakers as they come to hand or you can check out the VAFHO Facebook page VAFHO – Victorian Association of Family History Organisations or website.

THE VIEW TOWARDS CHURCH HILL, HAMILTON

Best of 2018

Another great year for Western District Families is drawing to a close.  Sixty-six new pioneers joined the Pioneer Obituary Index and we celebrated more Wonderful Western District WomenHamilton’s WW1 continued to grow with new biographies and addition of the Borough of Hamilton WW1 Honour Roll to the Hamilton WW1 Memorials.  You can now read the 411 names on the board and read selected stories of those represented.  The most popular post for the year was When the Earth Moved at Warrnambool about two earthquakes in the town in 1903, one of which is still Victoria’s most damaging quakes.

Over on Facebook, the Western District Families Facebook page now has over 6300 “likes”.  We have looked at various themes over the year including hotels, Back to School, Town & Country and more.  I really appreciate all the contributions by those following the page.  Their comments offering extra information about various towns and families are invaluable.  The video below is a look at the most popular photos I posted to the page over the year.

 

Thank you for visiting Western District Families during 2018. I look forward to sharing more family and local history from the Western District with you in 2019.

2019 VAFHO Expo in Hamilton

Great news for family history researchers living in Western Victoria and the South-East of South Australia.  The 2019 VAFHO (Victorian Association of Family History Organisation) Expo will be held in Hamilton on Saturday 1 June 2019.

HAMILTON FROM THE AIR IN 1927.
Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/177671

I’m excited because we rarely get such events in the west of the state and Hamilton is pretty much the centre of my family history universe. Plus, the expo will be held at my old school Monivae College, a great venue for such an event.

MONIVAE COLLEGE, HAMILTON

There will be guest speakers, exhibitors and more.  I attended the VAFHO 2013 conference in Ballarat and it was a well-run event with great speakers.  To get a feel for the range of speakers, topics and exhibitors that may attend the 2019 Expo, follow the link to the program from the 2018 Expo at Sale https://vafho.com/2018-sale-expo/  Of course, the program will be different at Hamilton and I’ll keep you updated on who’ll be there as we move closer to the date.  I can’t wait…

Seven Years

Today is a special day because it’s Western District Families’ seventh birthday.  I routinely post on 12 April each year to mark the occasion but this year I didn’t know how I could make this year’s post any different from the past six birthday posts.  Since I’ve been busy finishing more biographies for Hamilton’s WW1 before Anzac Day, I even considered if I would post at all.  But it’s because of Western District Families I find myself writing those biographies which I find most rewarding.  Therefore, I should not only acknowledge Western District Families today but also thank you for supporting me through the past seven years.  I know some of you have been readers almost since the beginning. 

Another reason to write a post today was that I needed to thank Laura Hedgecock and the GeneaBloggersTRIBE for recognising Western District Families’ “blogiversary”.  You can read Laura’s post especially for Western District Families’ 7th Blogiversary on the link – http://geneabloggerstribe.com/happy-blogiversary-to-western-district-families/

Colac’s Weekend of Family History

COLAC 1927. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/20366

It’s not often Western District family history enthusiasts get the opportunity to go to a family history event relatively close to home, but next weekend the Colac & District Family History Group Inc. is giving us the opportunity to indulge.  Not just for one day, but an entire three day “Weekend of Family History”.  Each day offers something different:

Friday 20 October

Boutique Writers’ Festival including a three-hour workshop with Hazel Edwards, author of  “Writing a Non Boring Family History“.

The cost for the workshop is only $10.  You can register here.

Saturday 21 October

Family History Expo – A full day of talks and exhibits.  Don’t miss the entertaining Susie Zada ask, “Were your ancestors regular?” and Joan Hunt with a talk on accessing Land Records, a valuable source for family history research. Exhibitors include: 

Tickets including all talks are $20 and are available here

Sunday 22 October

Cemetery Tours, Historic Walks and Family Reunions.  Bookings are required for the tours of the Colac Cemetery:

Enthralling Expiries – Book here
My Donated Headstone – Book here 
More information about each tour is available on the links.

You can find more information about the weekend on the society’s Facebook page here, view a brochure for the weekend here, or visit the Colac & District Family History Group website here

Congratulations must go to the Colac & District Family History Group, one of the most active Western District family history group, for hosting such an event and in turn, we should support their efforts. These events don’t happen regularly in our district so, make the most of it.  I know I am. I’ve registered for Hazel Edward’s workshop and I’m can’t wait.

On The Move

The Western District Families family is in the process of moving house and it’s been a slow process.

MOVING A HOUSE A CRESSY ca. 1909-ca. 1915. Photographer: Gabriel Knight. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/38759

Things are going to get a lot busier over the next month so I’m not sure if I’ll get an August Passing of the Pioneers post out.  It also means I, unfortunately, won’t take part in the National Family History Month Blogging Challenge during August.  There’s a new topic to write about each week during August and two I’m really keen on.  The first is due from today, and although I’ve started a draft, I won’t make it.  The next topic I’m interested is Week 3 so I’ll see how I go because it will be a reboot of an earlier Western District Families post so some of the work is already done.  Alex Daw will post a list of the weekly contributions at her Family Tree Frog blog, so why not check out what some of Australia’s leading geneabloggers are writing about.  Week one is on the link here.

Over on the Western District Families Facebook page, we have just finished a virtual historic tour of the Henty Highway.  There was so much history along the way, it took three months to “travel” 160 kilometres from Cherrypool (below) to Portland’s History House with posts most days.  It certainly took longer than I expected but now it’s ended, I can spend more time on our move.

CAMPING AT CHERRYPOOL c1938.

The tours are good fun and a great way to learn more about Western District towns and families, and I always find new stories ideas, but they are incredibly time consuming.   The Mount Everest of the Western District highways is the Princes Highway taking in towns such as Colac, Warrnambool and Port Fairy.  In the most recent tour, it took two weeks just to “travel” from North Portland to South Portland, so I think the Princes Highway might be one for next year…in fact, it could last a year!  During August for National Family History Month, I’m inviting everyone to share a photo of their Western District family to the page.

The Hamilton’s WW1 chapter of Western District Families has been quiet since April.  I was getting out about five bios a week in the lead up to Anzac Day taking the total number to around 130 biographies.  I have only a small group of men still to research from the various Hamilton outdoor WW1 memorials.  After we have moved and settled, I’ll get back into it. I’ve got a few ideas on improving the Hamilton’s WW1 page and I’ll also move on to some of the Honour Rolls from around the town.

With all the new story ideas I have from the Henty Highway tour, the many drafts waiting for completion, including three cemetery posts, and more Hamilton enlistments to write about, I think I need to speed up this moving process.  Time to swap the bullocks for some engine power.

MOVING A HOUSE CRESSY ca. 1909-ca. 1915. Photographer: Gabriel Knight http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/38774

 

A Box of Chocolates

Each year when writing a post to mark the “birth” of Western District Families, I describe the occasion differently whether it be blogiversary, anniversary or birthday.  After finding the traditional gift for a sixth anniversary is candy, I settled on an anniversary this year.  So, Happy 6th Anniversary Western District Families.

The idea of candy took my mind straight to my cousin “Sweet” Daisy Diwell, an employee at MacRobertson’s Chocolates in Fitzroy and to a Trove Tuesday subject the “Sweet-toothed Fox” a nocturnal visitor to the MacRobertson factory who feasted on the delights within.  Next, I thought of chocolate boxes, particularly the beautiful MacRobertson’s Chocolate boxes.

MacROBERTSON’S CHOCOLATE BOX c1933. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/34008

MacRobertson chocolate boxes are not all that comes to mind. I often think of Forrest Gump and his chocolate box while I’m researching, particularly the men of Hamilton’s WW1.  Starting with the name of a man I know nothing about, I then delve into his life never knowing what I might find.  So many times I’ve been surprised at what’s under the lid when I lift it.  Researching family history generally is much the same.  If you’re lucky, when you do lift the lid you’ll find something like this…

MacROBERTSON CHOCOLATES. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/32815

When I began reflecting on Western District Families’ year, I felt I hadn’t achieved a lot. Looking at the “Home” page and the low numbers of posts, it would seem not much has happened. Then I thought about why that was the case and only then realised how much I had achieved.  As well as being very busy on the home front, Hamilton’s WW1 has been time-consuming with most stories taking several hours of research and writing.  At the same time last year, I had seventy-five biographies and it’s taken a year to add another forty-three but it’s been worth every moment.

‘HAMILTON BOYS’ c 30 April 1915. Photo Courtesy of the Australian War Memorial. Image no. DAOD1060 https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/DAOD1060/

As well as the lists of Hamilton enlistments and posts about Hamilton’s WW1 memorials, Hamilton’s WW1 now has 118 biographies of enlisted men. Each includes a family history, photos and links to relevant online records. Those 118 men make up most of the names of the Hamilton War Memorial and Hamilton’s Anzac Avenue combined, so by this Anzac Day, I hope to have available a full biography of each man.  And not forgetting the nurses, I am also close to finishing the first biography of a WW1 Nurse who trained at Hamilton.

Passing of the Pioneers and the associated Pioneer Obituary Index achieved a milestone in the past year, with 700 pioneer obituaries now indexed.  As I’ve been looking for an opportunity to highlight some of the female pioneers, Women’s History Month was perfect to look back at ten of the women who were Passing of the Pioneers subjects over the past five years in  “Wonderful Women of the Western District” Part 1 and Part 2

CAVENDISH OLD CEMETERY

The Facebook pages, Western District Families and Hamilton’s WW1 continue to grow.  I’ve been delighted to see the interest in the WDF page as it nears 3300 “likes” up from 2000 at this time last year.  During the year, I’ve led the page followers on three virtual historic tours of Western District highways which have been great fun. The wonderful memories shared by those following brought another dimension to the posts. Last month the page’s theme was Women’s History Month and this month, we are remembering the enlisted men and women of the Western District. Then it will be time for another virtual historic tour, this time along the Henty Highway.

A personal achievement was successfully completing a Diploma of Family Historical Studies with the Society of Australian Genealogists, a goal for some time. The task was to complete a 20,000-word family history using a range of sources.  Of course, I chose the Harman family because I knew the most about them.  It was a valuable exercise for my family history research. When I started Western District Families, I soon learnt writing a narrative about family members leads to new discoveries but writing a family history such as I did took it to another level. Now I have a broader knowledge of the family and more understanding of their motivations and emotions but there is still more to learn. It’s something I’d like to try with some of my other families…if I ever get the time.

So that’s the year all wrapped up in a bow.  When you lift the lid on your next box of chocolates I hope you are pleasantly surprised at what you find inside.

MacROBERTSON CHOCOLATE BOX c1933. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/34008