Using TROVE and Papers Past

First published in the Cheshire Ancestor, Dec 2019

For those who are used to paying for access to newspapers as the British Newspaper Archive is a subscription service, the digitised newspapers from both the Australian and New Zealand National Libraries are FREE.

In Australia, the site is called TROVE (  It is a fantastic resource for family and historical information in the late 1700’s, 1800’s and into the 1900’s but not a lot of mid and late 1900’s is yet online.

It is particularly informative if your family settled in a country area.  In the late 1890’s, my great grandmother, Pauline SANDMANN HOUSE settled in a small country town, Corowa, NSW after being widowed with 4 children and set up a Fruit and Confectionery shop.  On TROVE, I found 11 years of advertisements and advertorials giving me a great insight into how she changed the shop to increase custom over the years.  I hadn’t heard anything about her and her life when I was growing up so it was a great find and brought this ancestor to life for me.

The city papers are great sources of shipping lists, court and accident reports and Birth, Death, Funeral and Marriage notices.  They are also handy for finding out what was happening in the area your ancestors were living in a particular time period.  As the library doesn’t have the funds to digitise every paper and every issue that has survived immediately, it adds papers and increases the range of issues as it receives money from the government and historical societies.  So, it’s always worth going back and redoing your search again at regular intervals.

Also the Australian papers often picked up stories from other newspapers (presumably by telegraph) in other parts of Australia and around the world, so don’t just look at papers in the locality of your ancestors.

In New Zealand, their digitised newspaper collection is called PAPERS PAST ( ) and is similarly useful as the Australian TROVE, again it is FREE. Here, I found one of my missing Irish great great uncles, Hugh LENNON, who was a seaman and settled in NZ with his family in the 1880’s; this was unknown to me and the family still in Portaferry, Ireland.  I was able to follow him and his descendants from the 1890’s till the early 1950’s.


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Accentuate the Positive

Thanks to GeniAus for the opportunity to look back over 2019 and remember the achievements of the year.

1.  An elusive ancestor I found about was my great great grandmother, Pauline SANDMANN HOUSE

2.  A great newspaper article I found was in the Corowa Free Press (1905-1907) stating that my grandfather, Ray HOUSE was playing football in his mid teens with the Starlight football club in Corowa and that they held team meetings at his mother’s shop

3.  A geneajourney I planned a road trip to Albury, Corowa and Wodonga and Melbourne  for research but health problems got in the way.  Will do it in 2020.

4.  A newly found family member shared some photos of her grandmother and my great aunt (found thru DNA matching).

5. A geneasurprise I received was finding out I knew more about DNA than I had realised when I attended the DNA DownUnder conference.

6.   My 2019 social media post that I was particularly proud of was posting my transcription of a story my father wrote in the last year of WW2.  He and 5 other crew from the Marine section of the RAAF left Melbourne in a renovated river launch to sail to PNG.  It was a detailed account of their first night getting thru the heads of Pt Philip Bay in a storm in the dark and some of the crew had never been to sea!

7. A new piece of technology or skill I mastered was the wonderful programme, DNA Painter

8. I joined because of my research in the area 3 local history societies on the Murray in NSW and Victoria

9. A genealogy education event/sessions from which I learnt something new was The DNA Downunder conference with the marvellous Blaine Bettinger and several webinars from Family Tree Legacy.

10. A blog post that taught me something new was – it’s hard to choose between Roberta Estes, “DNA Explained” which is always informative and useful and Janet Few’s blog called “The History Interpreter”. Most years, Janet offers an Advent calendar of a different kind where each day, she posts information about books she’s read during the year. This year, each day’s post featured less well known UK sites; the one that I found interesting was the 1851 Ecclesiastical census which is free from National Archives UK. It gives a great insight into the numbers attending each Established and Non Conformist church in the villages and towns.

11. A DNA discovery I made was firstly, finding a match that was another descendant of my gg grandparents HOUSE – we are but few in number so that was very special. Secondly, I was surprised to find that some of my Macclesfield (Cheshire) Harpers converted and went to Salt Lake City in the early 1850’s and their descendants are still there.

12. A great site I visited was the 1851 Ecclesiastical census on UK National Archives

13. It was exciting to finally meet and listen to DNA guru from the US, Blaine Bettinger

14. I am excited for 2020 because I hope I can continue to transform my data into interesting posts on my blog for the extended family.

19. Another positive I would like to share is writing a short article on TROVE and NZ’s Papers Past for the Cheshire Ancestor.

20. I’m very grateful we have TROVE in Australia as without it, I wouldn’t have found out so much about my great grandmother and her life in Corowa, NSW.

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Christmas Novelties, such as have never before been seen in Corowa.

When I started my family history research in the 1980’s, I knew nothing about my great grandmother, Pauline SANDMANN HOUSE.  All I knew was her name.  Everything I’ve learnt about this amazing woman, whom I’ve come to admire greatly has come from my research using Trove. She had a business in Corowa, NSW at least from 1898 to 1911 and possibly again in 1920.

Map of Corowa

Pauline was born to Prussian immigrants, Maria SCHULTZ and Johann SANDMANN in the outer northern area of Melbourne in 1854.  She was the 4th of 5 children and was only 6 years old when her father died.  Her mother remarried 2 years later, had 4 more children and moved to the Gippsland area of Victoria with her new husband.

In 1877 at the Lutheran Trinity church in Melbourne, Pauline married Albury man,  James HOUSE. He was 20 years old and a compositor at the Albury Banner and Wodonga Express.[1] I wonder how they met? The newly married couple lived in Albury from the time of their marriage and had 5 children; Percy (1878-1938), Mildred (1881-1923), Hilda, Clarice (1886-1967) and Raymond (1889-1928). Sadly, they buried their 2nd daughter, Hilda when she was only 1 year old and even more tragically, James died of Phthisis when he was only 31 in 1889 and Pauline was pregnant with their 5th child, Raymond.  James was the Foreman at the Banner by the time of his death and his obituary in the paper was very complimentary. It reported that staff from the Banner and the Border Post were his pall bearers.[2]

While I don’t know yet what Pauline did between her husband’s death in 1889 and before she bought a business in Sanger St in Corowa in 1898; I noticed that her first advertisement[3] stated she was “late of Carlton and Albury” which suggests she spent some time in Melbourne before moving to Corowa.  Pauline was listed as being in the family home in George St, Albury in the 1891 NSW census; this was the same home that the family was in when her husband died.   I do know that her husband left their house to her in his will[4] and his obituary stated that she was “comfortably provided for”.[5] As all her siblings and mother were living either in the north of Melbourne near where the historical village of Westgarthtown is now (a must see place when next in Melbourne ) or farming in the Gippsland area; I’m surprised that she didn’t move to be near them.

1898 Ad for Pauline and Percy's shop in Corowa Cropped

Corowa Free Press, Fri 4 March 1898

In March 1898, Pauline took out her first advertisement[6] in the Corowa Free Press announcing that she and her son had bought the business of Mr Parkin. She then took out another advertisement announcing the opening of the shop of “Mrs House and Son”.  The son would have been her eldest son, Percy who would have been 19 at that time.  He was only there a few years as I’ve found him working as a Confectioner in Collingwood, Melbourne in 1904.[7]

From time to time, the House family are mentioned as debtors to the Corowa hospital in the Hospital report in the Corowa Free Press[8] so I presume the shop was supplying fruit and vegetables to them.

1900 July 19 Corowa hospital accounts paid to Mrs HOUSE2

Corowa Free Press, Fri 9 Feb 1900

According to reports in the Corowa press during the family’s time in Corowa, the family were involved in church and community organisations.

1900's Corowa School of ArtsI’ve taken this fantastic image from the Visit Corowa Region Fb page and they got it from the Corowa Federation Museum and I hope they are happy for me to use it.  If not, I’ll remove it. I wonder if any of my great aunts and uncles are in the picture.

The year after their arrival in Corowa when Clarice was 13 years old in September 1899, she attended the Children’s Fancy Dress ball in aid of the Corowa hospital in a pale green empire dress.[9] The paper published a very long descriptive list of what each girl was wearing. There were 130 children dancing that night.  This list is a wonderful resource for any genealogist. This event was held in the School of Arts and soon the family would be living next door with the next business that Pauline bought.

1899 Clarice HOUSE attends the Children's Fancy Dress ball in Corowa

Corowa Free Press, Tues 26 Sept 1899

In March 1900, Mr R. Alston collected £1 15 shillings for the NSW Patriotic Fund[10] and Pauline was named as a donor of 1 shilling.1900 Donation to the NSW Patriotic Fund by Mrs HOUSE in Corowa

Corowa Free Press, Fri 16 March 1900

A month later, 10 year old Raymond (Ray) won the second prize in the Fourth class at the St John’s Sunday school evening held in the School of Arts.  The prize giving was preceded by a number of musical and spoken items by members of the congregation which the Corowa Free Press wrote about in great detail.[11]

1900 April 20 Ray HOUSE wins Sunday school prize

Corowa Free Press, 20 April 1900

A year later, it was Clarice’s turn when she won 2nd prize in the First Class of Sunday school.[12]

1901 April 12 Clarice HOUSE wins a prize at Sunday school2

Corowa Free Press, Fri 12 April 1901

By 1901/2, Pauline’s business entry was listed as “House and Son, Fruiterers and Greengrocers” in Hall’s Post Office Country, Business, Professional and Pastoral Directory”.[13]

A Very Impudent Theft – This was the headline in the Albury Banner and Wodonga Express which reported that Pauline’s daughter saw a man, dressed in top coat and cap come into the shop on a Friday night and take £4 from behind the counter. On Monday morning, the money was mysteriously returned under the door.[14] This was also reported in the Melbourne paper, The Argus.

1903 An Impudent Theft v2

Albury Banner and Wodonga Express, Fri 10 July 1903

A number of the advertisements stated that Pauline’s first shop was opposite the Australian Hotel and the second shop was next to the School of Arts on Sanger St which I understand is now incorporated into the Memorial hall. A later news item mentioned her daughters assisting her in the business.

At Christmas time in 1903, she advertised that she had “Christmas Novelties, such as have never before been seen in Corowa”[15]

1903 Pauline

Corowa Free Press, Fri 20 Nov 1903

Maybe, because her late husband was a compositor for 20 years, she composed great advertisements for her business and changed the products and services offered over time she was in business.  She continued to advertise twice weekly thru 1904. One advertisement stated that

“The Refreshment Rooms are Cool and Well-Appointed, and every Comfort will be found by Patrons”[16]    

 In December 1904, there was an advertisement in the paper[17] stating that a lady had lost her ring between Mrs House’s and Levy and Co. Perhaps some one might be able to help me locate which side of the School of Arts her business was on from that information?

1904 Lost ad mentioning Pauline's shop1

Corowa Free Press, Dec 1904

In June 1905, the Corowa Free Press recorded that Pauline had purchased Mr W Holland’s business and intended to run both businesses.[18]  The next advertisement states that the new business was next to the School of Arts also in Sanger St. The advertisement stated:-

“Mrs House desires it to be remembered by her customers that in future the tea rooms will be carried on in the shop near the School of Arts, and special convenience will be found by ladies’ afternoon tea parties. Special attention will be devoted to this department.”[19] 1905 June 16 Ad for both Pauline's businesses

Corowa Free Press, Fri 16 June 1905

Running 2 businesses must have been too difficult as later that same year, a Miss Burgess advertised that she had taken over Mrs House’s business opposite the Australian Hotel and asked for “A share of public patronage is respectively solicited”.[20]  

1905 Oct 20 Ad for Miss Burgess who has taken over one of Pauline's shops

Corowa Free Press, Fri 20 Oct 1905

Also in October, Pauline promoted her “Afternoon Tea and General Refreshments Rooms” and by December, she was calling her business “Corowa Sweets and Fruit Shop”.

“Having removed from the Shop lately occupied by me Opposite the Australian Hotel, I desire to draw Special Attention to my Present Location.  All kinds of English, American and Colonial Confectionery of the Best Quality.[21]

Pauline also advertised for “A Useful Girl[22] for the shop in December; there was no indication of skills required but I do love the job title.1905 Dec 20 Pauline's ad for a Useful girl 2

Corowa Free Press, 20 Dec 1905

1905 Dec 22 Advertorial for Pauline's shop


The Christmas decorations mentioned in this advertorial get another mention in the New Year when Miss House (presumably Mildred) was lighting a kerosene lamp in the front window which set fire to some of the paper decorations.  Luckily, there was a play on next door at the School of Arts and the B.B. band which was playing out the front included 2 firemen who found some buckets and water to douse the flames before the Fire Brigade arrived.[23] [24]

1906 Small fire in Pauline's shop 1906 Fire used as example of need for water supplyCorowa Free Press, Fri 26 Jan 1906

This fire was also used as an example a few days later of how much Corowa needed an access to a water supply while in “water famine” as it could have easily spread to other shops and houses.[25] It must have also been an exciting night for the audience in the School of Arts when “the drop scene came into contact with one of the gas-jets forming the footlights”.[26]













Corowa Chronicle 31 Jan 1906

1906 Marriage Clarice A HOUSE and David B HAIG in Corowa2


Earlier in the month, on New Year’s Day, Pauline’s youngest daughter, Clarice married David Burgoyne HAIG, a saddler at her mother’s home (presumably behind the shop) and moved to Albury. The marriage by the Presbyterian minister, Rev. A. McWatt Allan was reported in both Corowa papers with great detail of the dresses worn by the bridal party.  Later, they came back to Corowa as at least their 2 daughters were born there in 1908 and 1913. The girls were named after their Auntie Mildred and their mother, Clarice.

Corowa Free Press, 5 Jan 1906

In December, there was news of Mrs House’s Summer Garden.[27]  The Corowa Chronicle described it most eloquently.

”A Summer Want Supplied

Mrs. House, who has always been up-to-date in her methods of purveying delicacies and fruit to the public, has now had a Kiosk erected at the rear of her premises, 20 x 30.  The structure is well ventilated and cool, the floor being covered with tan.  The appointments consist of a number of small tables spread about the room, which is decorated with palms and pot plants giving it a very cool appearance.  It is the intention of Mrs. House to light this room with arc lights.  There are also private tea rooms, which are largely patronised by ladies and gentlemen who like the cup that cheers but does not inebriate.”

In Dec 1906, Pauline’s advertisement tells us she had set up a “capacious canvas house” (a marquee, I guess) for the serving of cool drinks and refreshments during the summer months.  The paper obviously continued to encourage her to advertise with them by writing very positive advertorials for her business.  She was way ahead of her time offering outside areas to consume food and drink in.

1906 Ad for Mrs HOUSE's Summer Garden

Corowa Free Press, Fri 7 Dec 1906

From Trove[28], I learnt that my grandfather, Ray, now 15 years old played football for the Starlight[s] Football club and held some of their meetings at his mother’s shop. One night, the newspaper reported that Ray presented the members with “travelling caps” in the red and black colours of their club for their forthcoming trip to Albury using Crawford & Co’s drag[29].

1906 Ray HOUSE and Starlights Football ClubCorowa Free Press 21 Dec 1906

I do wonder if the Starlights were the junior side for the Corowa Football club? I would appreciate any information on this club that anyone might have and be willing to share. I will do a separate blog post on the Starlight Football club sometime soon.

Printed after Oct 1905 when she sold her first shop2

This flyer was kindly sent to me by Heather Hall, Secretary, Corowa Historical Society

The advertisements continued through to 1909 when she started calling the outside room, The Kiosk.

1909 Ad for Pauline's Kiosk

Corowa Free Press, Fri 22 Jan 1909

In July 1910 when Ray was 20 years old, he participated in a couple of Poster Skating Carnivals held at the School of Arts, these were organised by Messrs Bufford Bros in aid of the Corowa Hospital.  Participants were required to turn up in an advertising poster and judging by the list of attendees, their costumes and where they lived, it was very popular and people were prepared to travel long distances to participate.  The first time, Ray went as Champion Tobacco and the second time as Kandy Koola Tea.[30] [31]  Again the article in the paper is a treasure trove of names for the genealogist.

1910 Champion Tobacco tin                 1910 Kandy Koola Tea2

1910 Skating Carnival at Corowa p1 11910 Skating Carnival at Corowa p1 2









Corowa Free Press, 8 July 1910




I believe that Pauline must have been a very strong and resilient woman to have left Albury where she had lived for 20 years.  I admire the way she reinvented her business constantly to attract new clientele.  She had a difficult life but in my estimation, she was resilient and a survivor.  I would love to have a picture of her and the family if anyone has one to share with me.

By 1911, Pauline’s time in Corowa was coming to an end; she was now 57 years old, had been widowed for 22 years, brought up 4 children on her own and successfully run 2 businesses in Corowa.  Again the wonderful Corowa Free Press told me that in August that year she had been away “for health reasons for the past four months in Melbourne and Sydney”.

1911 Aug 4 Pauline away in Melb and Sydney for 4 months2

Corowa Free Press, Fri 4 Aug 1911

It also said that “Mrs House states that she intends to personally conduct the business in the future” which implies there were problems while she was away.[32]  By December, she had sold the shop to J. W. Doughney who pledges in the first advertisement to “work to maintain the high reputation that Mrs. House has invested it with for the past few years.”[33]

1911 Dec 29 Pauline sells her shop

Corowa Free Press, Fri 29 Dec 1911

By now, her eldest son, Percy was married and living in Melbourne, her eldest daughter, Mildred was married to Thomas McRae, a policeman and living in Sydney.  Her younger daughter, Clarice was probably back in Corowa as her daughters were born there in 1908 and 1913 and Ray was possibly still with her but he was certainly in Melbourne in the ensuing years working as a salesman.  He met and married my grandmother, Alma Lennon in 1916 in Melbourne and lived there till he died 12 years later.

There was a Mrs House who in March 1920, bought Miss Whinray’s business, “The Crystal Fruit Café” opposite the Australian Hotel (possibly Pauline’s first business) in partnership with a Miss Osborn.[34]

1920 Mrs HOUSE and Ms Osborn take over the Crystal Fruit Cafe presumably in Corowa

Corowa Free Press, Fri 23 March 1920

I have no proof yet that this was Pauline or perhaps her daughter in law, Florence.  It seems likely there is a family link, but I haven’t had any luck yet in confirming it. In July that year, the business was defrauded by a woman presenting a cheque which the bank refused to pay on because the signature wasn’t right and the actual cheque was 20 years old and that form was no longer used.[35]

The partnership only lasted for 18 months and it was reported in the Corowa Free Press that it had been dissolved and Mrs House’s share had been acquired by Miss Osborn’s father.[36]

Other than that, Pauline spent the rest of her years in Melbourne where sons, Percy and Ray lived.  I’ve found her listed in one or two Victorian directories as a Confectioner so she kept on working for some time..She had more grief and sadness to face.  Her daughter, Mildred took her own life in 1923 in Sydney after losing her baby[38]; her youngest son, Ray predeceased her when he died of kidney disease at only 38 years age in 1928.[39] By the time she died in 1930[40], only 2 of her 5 children survived her.

The Corowa Chronicle reported in Feb 1925, that “Mrs House, an erstwhile resident of Corowa was holidaying with friends in town so she obvioulsy retained her links to Corowa well after she went to live in Melbourne.[37]

1925 Feb 21 Pauline is back in Corowa visiting friends (Corowa Chronicle 2

Corowa Chronicle, Sat 21 Feb 1925

Her obituary in the Albury Banner and Wodonga Express was very generous as she hadn’t lived there for 32 years.[41]

1930 Death of Pauline HOUSEAlbury Banner and Wodonga Express Fri 24 Oct 1930


[1] Marriage certificate held by J. Gay

[2]Albury Banner and Wodonga Express, 28 June 1889

[3] Corowa Free Press, 4 March 1898

[4] Will of James W House held by J. Gay

[5] Albury Banner and Wodonga Express,   date

[6] Corowa Free Press, 4 March 1898

[7] Sands and McDougall Victorian Directory 1904

[8] Corowa Free Press 19 July 1898

[9] Corowa Free Press, 26 September 1899

[10] Corowa Free Press, 16 March 1900

[11] Corowa Free Press, 20 April 1900

[12] Corowa Free Press, 12 April 1901

[13] Hall’s Post Office Country, Business, Professional and Pastoral Directory, 1901

[14] Albury Banner and Wodonga Express, 10 July 1903

[15] Corowa Free Press, 20 November 1903

[16] Corowa Free Press, 29 November 1904

[17] Corowa Free Press, 20 December 1904

[18] Corowa Free Press, 9 June 1905

[19] Corowa Free Press, 16 June 1905

[20] Corowa Free Press, 20 October 1905

[21] Corowa Chronicle, 20 December 1905

[22] Corowa Chronicle, 20 December 1905

[23] Corowa Free Press, 26 January 1906

[24] Corowa Chronicle, 27 January 1906)

[25] Corowa Chronicle, 31 January 1906

[26] Corowa Free Press 26 January 1906

[27]Corowa Free Press, 7 December 1906

[28] TROVE, Australia’s amazing free digital newspaper collection from our National Library

[29] Corowa Free Press, 21 December 1906

[30] Corowa Free Press, 8 July 1910

[31] Corowa Free Press, 29 July 1910

[32] Corowa Free Press, 4 August 1911

[33] Corowa Free Press, 29 December 1911

[34] Corowa Free Press, 23 March 1920

[35] Corowa Free Press, 9 July 1920

[36] Corowa Free Press, 30 September, 1921

[37] Corowa Chronicle, 21 February 1925

[38] Death certificate held by J. Gay

[39] Death certificate held by J. Gay

[40] Death certificate held by J. Gay

[41] Albury Banner and Wodonga Express, 24 October 1930

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Show bags, Woodchopping and Rides: Memories of the Royal Adelaide Show

The Royal Adelaide show was a major highlight of my year from the time I was 10 years old.  It was always held in the August school holidays – in those days, the school year was divided into 3 x 14 week terms whereas it is now 4 terms of 10-11 weeks. In my time, it was held on the same showground at Goodwood as it is today.

A stick of fresh fairy floss was always the first thing I bought; it was wonderful to watch the sugar being swirled around till the stick was full and handed over.  It was made in something like the bowl of a wringer washing machine.  I still far prefer fresh fairy floss to the bagged variety.  Of course, the main attraction of the show for a young girl was the buying of showbags which usually cost 2/6 i.e. two shillings and 6 pence.  I enjoyed the Bertie Beetle and Lifesaver’s bags and remember bags sold by Arnotts biscuits and chips and Rosella Tomato sauce.  Money was very tight but we were usually able to get a couple and it took much thought, contemplation and comparison to decide which one to buy.  Basically, they were all sold by food brands with none of the franchise stuff available now. Sweets were not readily available to us at home so the chocolate and lollies in the bags were a favourite (and still are!).


Later in my teen years, the rides were of more interest – they were much simpler and not nearly as scary as today’s rides.  Although I do have very vivid memories of my 15 year old self being encouraged onto the Mad Mouse with a friend who got me to sit in the front as she was too scared – like I wasn’t!  Those sharp turns appeared to hang the carriage over the edge before turning around; my friend spent the whole time screaming in my ear.  I’ve not been on one since.

Mad Mouse show ride at Royal Adelaide Show

Thanks to “Amusement Ride Extravaganza” website for this photo and to the photographer, Peter Lohman

I loved the amusement area – again very simple activities and one of my favourites was the Laughing Clowns.  I wonder if they still have them?


I always enjoyed visiting the animal pavilions where different breeds were displayed and judged every day.  I have no idea why but visiting the wood chopping arena was always a must.  I’m guessing that in the early years, when our parents took us and Dad was still chopping our wood for the open fire in the lounge (the only heating in the whole house at Flinders Park); that it was on their list of places to go.

1947 Wood Chopping at Royal Adelaide ShowThanks to the State Library of SA for this photo no. B7798/397

Near the oval, was a small stand alone theatre sponsored by the cigarette maker, Rothmans which showed free documentaries.  This was quite a treat as we rarely went to see a film (they weren’t called movies then).  The Grand Parade of animals and entertainment on the oval was always a must see although I believe there is a lot more entertainment now.

This was also the time when Australia was riding on the sheep’s back and every show had a very popular Wool Fashion Parade in one of the pavilions.  It was so popular, you had to get in early to get a seat.  In our late primary and teen years, our father was a salesman for the agricultural machine manufacturer, Horwood Bagshaw.  The show was their major marketing opportunity of the year to showcase and sell their products to the farmers in town for the show.


A display of agricultural equipment at an Adelaide show in the 1950’s and 1960’s

This job required him to man their stand at the Show and as a result he scored free tickets for us so we were able to attend 3 or 4 days for nothing and we loved getting to know where everything was. We thought we were so special.

The wonderful State Library of SA has a short video of the Christmas Pageant and Royal Show taken in the 1950’s.  The Royal Show segment starts around the 6 min mark.  For copyright reasons, I don’t believe I can post it here but you can use this link.


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“That’s one Small Step for man, one giant leap for mankind”.

I heard Neil Armstrong say this as he stepped out of the moon module onto the moon; it is one of the most memorable experiences of my life.

It was July 21st 1969 and I was teaching Grade 4 and we’d learnt via the newspapers that the moon landing was going to be televised that afternoon.  Apparently the Education Dept gave permission for schools to close early if needed. In common with many schools, ours didn’t have a TV; in fact, the only electronic equipment the school had was a public address system and a 16 mm projector.  So we dismissed all the children and as usual,  most of them just walked home. Can you imagine the paperwork and organisation now if you wanted to dismiss the school early?


I went home with another teacher to watch it we didn’t have a TV at home.

Watching the moon landing and the astronauts walking around was just mind blowing and it was really hard to understand that we were watching it in real time.  By now, you’ve probably seen the footage and noted that it was not only B&W but also very blurry but it was still magic in our eyes.

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The voyage of RAAF 015-17 the Govilon

A short story written by Larry BAMFORD while on board the RAAF Marine Section boat 015-17

The “Govilon” rebadged as RAAF 015-17 sailed out of Melbourne on December 7th 1944 and was handed over in Pt Moresby for disposal in November 1945
Note: Larry enlisted in Brisbane in late 1939 in the RAAF and they allocated him to the Marine Section probably because he had been working on boats on the Brisbane River for a few years.  From 1939, he was moved up and down the east coast RAAF bases from Pt Cook in Melbourne to Townsville.
The Marine section came into being soon after the establishment of the RAAF in 1921 to provide rescue boats for trainee pilots flying over the sea, to take crew out to the seaplanes and to clear the area of debris before takeoff.  One article I’ve read said that there were 2000 men involved in WW2 and that the unit was disbanded after that war.

A few short months of married life with even shorter weeks just spent with my wife –seven weeks to be exact, had taken away most of my earlier enthusiasm for the sea, particularly in small craft and as the “Govilon” was no luxury yacht, just fifty six feet of utilitarian ugliness with the barest possible conveniences for the crew of six.  1940's Laurence BAMFORD and Marjorie HOUSE in Melbourn V2 lowres

I was willing to find any and every excuse a good one for prolonging that idyllic state in which I now lived.  A bed sitting room and use of [a] kitchen mightn’t seem much to some people but at that  time this was the most desirable residence I could imagine and there were to be times within the next year when that “home” would soon in retrospect to be even more heavenly.

At last the day arrived the Skipper, a W/O [Warrant Officer] with a world yachting cruise to his credit decided that what could be done to make a sea going craft out of an ex river picnic launch had been done and we cast off from No 1 North wharf in the Yarra River at 0130 Dec 7th 1944.  The weather didn’t look too promising with an overcast day and a S wind blowing force 2 but the barometer had risen slowly all the previous day to 29.90 and the forecasts were favourable.

By 0600 we were abeam of the West Channel Pile light in Port Phillip Bay.  Our biggest worry on this, the first stage of our trip now lay immediately ahead of us, that notorious mile wide stretch of treacherous currents and known as the Rip.  I had often heard of it from local fisherman without ever having seen it, I had acquired a wholesome respect for it.

We were lucky. Our calculations of our speed and time had proved right and we caught the last of the flood or as there was barely any breeze, we made the passage with no further worry.  Huge boils were to be seen in places even under those ideal conditions and it needed little imagination to realise just how bad these waters would become when the ebb reaches its maximum of 7 knots.  Here, I should explain that Pt Phillip Bay is a roughly circular stretch of water about 30 miles across at it’s widest part and with an average depth of about 15 fathoms.  The tides on the shores of Melbourne on it’s northern side being furthest from the entrance are uncertain as to height and periodicity being largely controlled by the winds.  At the entrance, however, with it’s inner end choked with sand banks and islands, the tides are semi-diurnal i.e. occurring twice daily & are calculable in occurrence at least. A peculiar feature of the Rip is that High and Low water occurs three hours before and after the slack owing to the huge volume and water imprisoned in the bay being forced out between Pt Lonsdale and Pt Nepean the rocky headland at either side of the Rip.1944 Govilon RAAF Laurence BAMFORD

To return to the story, a line of foam just a short distance to seaward of these two headlands marked the limit of the current and once beyond this boundary the wheel lost its kick and behaved normally. So that I was able to look around me. The sky was still overcast, but as there was only the faintest breeze everything was peaceful and Queenscliff on the Western side of the Rip looked quite picturesque with it red painted roofs, green herbage and it’s tall white columns and lighthouses set there to guide mariners from all over the world thru these waters into the calm and shelter of Pt Phillip Bay and so on to smoke and commerce of Melbourne as well as all the delights a modern city can hold for a shore hungry sailor.


At 0750/7/12/6 we set a course of S45E and streamed the log.  The day was still lightly o/cast but the sea was calm and with the glass falling steady the omens seemed good for the first open sea stage of our trip.  The morning was devoted by all hands to that inevitable “shaking down”.  Things which should have been in the cabin lockers were in the hold and the lockers were jammed with gear that would be wanted only rarely.  Our noon pos[ition] was Long 145 deg 03E, Lat 36deg 35S making our run since leaving the wharf a mere 57 miles.  At that rate, we were due for many nights at sea thanks to our hard working but hopelessly underpowered engine.

During that afternoon, the glass dropped slowly but steadily and by 1500 [hours] was down to 29.80 while the wind from ESE had ………….to force 4 altho’ the sky was clear but as there was still nothing abnormal about these conditions, we were not unduly worried.  By 1630, the glass had dropped to 29.78 and the wind had strengthened to E5 we brought the vessel up to 580E to meet the sea which was making ……….. with a short chop. One hour later the wind was blowing force 6 from the E and we began to wonder just what we were in for. When the wind reach[ed] force 7 at 18.30 and the seas were breaking not many of the crew were happy.  It was too soon for us to have got our sea legs and the galley, a mere box containing two primus stoves, let into the cabin wall and depend[ing] on a few 6” portholes in the cabin for ventilation was soon declared out of bounds by all hands. Neither the 2nd Eng[ineer]. nor the deckhand had been to sea before and I tried to give them a hand to get something hot but had to give up.  The skipper was on the wheel and when I told him of our plight, he handed over to me where I was quite happy and with the aid of the Chief, a man with an iron stomach like himself he nailed a fruit case astride the after bulkhead of the cabin and wedged our spare primus into it where he concocted a stew which was to become our mainstay at all times like this in the future.

The first necessity of food at a time like this is that it shall be easily prepared, hot, easily served and eaten and finally easy to digest. “Harold’s Stew” as we came to call this concoction had all these qualities.  First, it was a matter of emptying two cans of vegetables and one tin of M[eat] & V[egetables] into a large saucepan.  All this was precooked and ten minutes on the primus would get it hot so that even in the roughest weather it was possible to jam oneself in a corner and balance the saucepan on the flame.  Serving it meant dipping in with a big iron spoon and dumping the sticky loads onto a deep enamelled plate, the plate and it’s own stiffness ensuring that it would stay put with a minimum of sleight of hand tricks and lastly, being more vegetables than anything else it was kind to those uncomfortable stomachs to be found amongst us.  As Alain Gerbault ( has mentioned several times in his books, it is best to keep meat down to a minimum.  Going to sea in small craft precludes the normal exercise of life and ….unless the diet is kept as bulky as possible elimination is likely to be difficult to the intense discomfort of the would be mariner or in my opinion, this is the cause of at least 80% of sea sickness.

9/3/71940's L Bamford RAAF

My night trick on the wheel was 2400 to 0200 and I had decided to get what sleep I could as soon as the evening meal was over – just in case I missed the rest of the night and it was just as well that I did.  About 10 pm the skipper came aft to wake me and told me that a hand was needed on the pump.  The same genius who was responsible for the design of our galley had decided that a #3 semi rotary pump would be adequate for a bilge pump in an addition to a small affair on the main engine that had obviously been designed by the maker to deal with any slight leak such as from a gland and generally keep the bilge dry under normal circumstances. These were not normal circumstances. Our craft was being thrown all over the ocean, chips left behind by the shipwright in what were now inaccessible parts of the bilge, were washed adrift to block valves and strainers so that after a couple of minutes pumping it was necessary to get to work with a spanner to clean the valves and strainer.  The strainers on the engine driven pump being completely inaccessible so that it was necessary to remove the whole of the suction pipe each time and unseasoned timber having been used in the combings before being subjected to quite a few of Melbourne’s scorching summers “Northerns” [so that] every sea that came aboard [and] ran thro as though the upper works didn’t exist..  Over the hand pump and before the wheel house was a skylight the full width of the housing a very nice place to have a sky light when riding at anchor in calm water but now it leaked just  as badly as the combings.  The pump was only a little above the engine room floor, now awash with several inches of water, and far too low to work from a standing position for very long so we took it in turns to sit there in the swishing water with a constant shower from above.


Our electrical system of 24 V for lights and radio was supplied by a bank of 16 plate batteries charged by two small aircooled petrol driven generators known in Air Force parlance as A.P.U.’s or Auxiliary Power Units, at times of power …………..that had found itself very handy for charging A/C batteries since they had given up their peacetime job of supplying a small quantity of light to a country house but completely unsuitable for our job. They had a floatless carburettor and depended on suction to bring the petrol up from the (base?) which formed the tank and so when ever the vessel healed which was every few seconds the engine either choked or steamed and stopped either way.  Our W/T op[erator] had to work to a set schedule and when he was sending at night the total drain was something like 15 X, a discharge rate that would soon flatten the batteries, but fortunately they were fully charged up to noon that day and he went off watch at midnight to reopen again at 0630 to get the morning “weather”.

At midnight the glass had fallen to 29.70 with an easterly gale at force 8 but by this time we seemed to have lost all feeling and reason now.  Everyone was cold, wet and tired and a cup of steaming hot coffee would have………..indeed at that moment but it was out of the question.  I took on the wheel at 0100 and stayed there until 0400 before going back to the pump and getting what rest I could in between time.

Our Second, a lad of 20 who until a year previously had added up figures in a bank ledger for a living and who but for the war would doubtlessly have been quite content to do so for the rest [of his life] showed his mettle that night.  This was his first sea trip and he was wretchedly sea sick, but in spite of this he insisted on doing most of the pumping, never missing a stroke even when vomiting and as there was plenty of water available at that time to wash the place out there was little chance of it becoming foul.

Sadly. this is where the story in his exercise book finished.  He and 5 other RAAF crew continued up the east coast stopping at all sorts of places till they got to PNG where they went to a number of places till they handed the boat in at Pt Moresby for disposal in November two months after the war finished.  However, he kept a very detailed log Larry kept of the journey which runs to around 30 foolscap pages and hopefully, I will transcribe it one day.


Wind speed info

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Participating in RootsTech without leaving home (and at no cost!)

The Melbourne Cup of genealogy conferences, RootsTech starts in Salt Lake City in the US on Wed Feb 27 and finishes on Sat 2 March.


Many of us don’t have the money, holidays or health to make such a big trip to the US but there are ways for those of us staying home to participate. We can watch some of the presentations online in real time (live streaming) and in past year, they have put up recordings of presentations on their website in the days following the conference.

In the Gould Genealogy blog, Alona has listed all the presentations which will be live streamed and has kindly converted the US Mountain times to Australian EST so we only have to convert them to our region.  Thank you, Alona.

This year, you can also buy a Virtual Pass to access online 18 more presentations.  If you want to see every presentation on offer, here is the full programme.

This year for the first time there will RootsTech London 2019be a Rootstech held in London in late October which is handy if you happen to live there.  Here is the  introductory information.  I believe that there are 3 major genealogy conferences to be held in the UK this year.


In Australia this year in August we have something special to look forward to also, Gould Genealogy are touring Blaine Bettinger who is a USA expert on DNA.  The DNA Roadshow is something for us to look forward to.

DNA Roadshow



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Well, it’s finished now but we can still learn from it. I’ve been following it from my iPad thanks to a couple of my favourite bloggers who were there and shared their experiences with us.

Rootstech 2018

First of all, I follow GeniAus aka Jill Ball from NSW /  who not only wrote posts while she was there but has recorded short interviews with exhibitors in the Exhibition hall and people she met in the official Media centre.  They are available on her Youtube channel “Jill Ball”.   Jill included several photos in her posts to give us an idea of what it was like to be there.

Secondly is US’s Roberta Este’s blog DNAeXplained.  Roberta blogged in very great detail about who she heard speak (or not, if she hadn’t been able to get a seat) and who she met in the Exhibition hall . Her blog is alive with photos which I really appreciated; I particularly enjoyed the changing view of the snow capped mountains from her hotel. It’s great to be able to put faces to names you normally only hear about.  Although, how you ever find anyone when there are nearly 15000 people attending this major event, I don’t know.

Finally, we can also watch from the comfort of our own homes some of each day’s talks – check out   There are 47 videos available to watch!

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2018 The Year of the Scanner

I don’t normally bother about New Year’s resolutions as I’ve never successfully completed them.  I find life tends to get in the way.

However, as I’ve had some time after a wonderful Xmas/New Year with the extended family, I’ve been doing some belated data entry and filing.  As a result, I realised that I can’t put off any longer a task I’ve been delaying for years.  I have to start SCANNING, Yes, scanning.  I do have 2 scanners so it’s not for lack of equipment but more the lack of determination and “stickability” as it is such a boring task.  I love researching and trying to work which resources to use to solve problems.  I love finding further info about people but the basic work bores me to tears – hence my lack of success in the scanning dept.

Like many people, I started this passion for my family’s history back in the mid 1980’s when you had to write away for certificates, visit interstate libraries to look at old newspapers (gosh, I do so appreciate TROVE – not only cos it is online but because it is indexed), visit interstate archives, BMD offices and go regularly to your own genealogy society and the local Mormon research centre.  These last two were great places to meet other people who shared your passion who were happy to offer help.  People starting now have many advantages but I miss those places.  They were very hectic on a weekend, I can tell you.


So as a result, I have several lever arch files full of certificates that I have purchased over the decades that I need to scan.  I always feel nervous when I go on holidays in case we have a fire but so far, it has been needless worry.  Of course, I also have many photos and slides to finish scanning too.

I have designed up a simple spreadsheet to track records as I scan them so I don’t waste time scanning them twice.  It looks a bit overwhelming but I’ll just plug away at it during the year.  I’ve also decided that it would be a good time to listen to my favourite genealogy podcast, The Genealogy Guys and their second one, Genealogy Connection while I’m working.

How do you handle the backlog of scanning?

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Naturally, Christmas preparation turns the mind to the past but I struggle to remember a lot of details about Christmas as a child in the 1950’s.  They were certainly much quieter and much less was made of the celebration. Another pointer to how less important they were, is that I don’t have a single Christmas photo from our childhood.  Whereas, I’m sure there are photos of every Christmas since my own family came along. Christmas always meant an extra Mass for the week but it was a great celebration with lots of carols.  After breakfast and looking at our presents, we would walk to our local church often wearing a new dress our nana had made.

IMG_4063 edited

We did always have a live Christmas tree, something we’ve done in our family till a few years ago; I do miss the marvellous pine smell.  I can’t remember much about what we ate apart from a roast chicken and a home made Christmas pudding.  Chickens were a luxury food and we only had one at Christmas time.  Other luxury food we only had at Christmas and birthdays was lemonade and ice cream.  Keep in mind that fridges were relatively new (we had an ice chest when I was younger) and small so the ice cream compartment was a narrow 2 shelves about 15 cms wide and similar in height.  The ice cream came in a rectangular shape that fitted into that shape and was enclosed in a waxed cardboard box.  This was before the use of plastics in packaging.  The only things you put in the freezer was ice cream and iceblocks – our fridge only had 2 shelves not three like this picture.

1950's freezer

Photo courtesy

We were always tremendously excited to put our pillow cases on the ends of our beds before we went to sleep.  I still recall the huge excitement of waking in the morning to explore what was in it.  While I can’t remember any specific presents, I do recall we always got a bag of popcorn (another rare treat) and chocolate coins in silver paper which we loved.  We were the original nuclear family as we didn’t have any family in our state having only a grandmother interstate.  Christmas for most of my childhood was just with my immediate family but we still loved it.

I do remember that when we moved interstate, we did attend a few wonderful large, noisy gatherings at someone’s home.  It’s taken years to work out how my parents knew these welcoming people and as far as I can ascertain, they were relatives of the husband of one of my mother’s aunts – how convoluted!  From memory, it was the gathering of 4 siblings, their families and their parents – I’m ever so grateful for their generosity in inviting complete strangers to their family gathering. Those years stick in my mind as they were great fun for us.  There were big long trestles in the lounge and dining area with lots of children and adults.

One odd memory of those Christmas dinners was Dad in his work van driving us home in the dark with us children in the back.  As the eldest, I had to hold onto the door to stop it opening thus preventing us falling out.  We were on the floor as there were only 2 seats in the front for mum and dad.  No seatbelts for anyone; how times have changed.



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