Cruising with Unlock the Past
On Saturday 19th March 2011 approximately 250 people from all over Australia boarded the Unlock The Past cruise on the P&O ship, Pacific Dawn, at Hamilton, a suburb near Brisbane, Queensland. Twenty people had travelled from WA and included representatives from the Geraldton Family History Society, the Australind Family History Society, State Library of Western Australia and, of course, WAGS. We were all eager to experience our first genealogy cruise, and were looking forward to 7 days cruising the Pacific; visiting Noumea and Lifou in New Caledonia and Vila in Vanuatu.
Apart from the normal ship board life there was a variety of genealogy talks spread throughout the days. Some of us were there for the genealogy component while others (mainly husbands) were there for the cruise! Ralph and I managed to blend the two. The food onboard was plentiful and delicious. To compensate for the copious amounts of food and drink consumed, we decided to only use the stairs, and not take the lifts! Considering our room was on the deck 9 and presentations were on decks 7, 11 or 14, we got lots of exercise! There were even times we climbed from deck 5 to 14, (it was easier going down than up!)
Due to the normal shipboard activities most morning presentations were held at 8am and 9am in the International Show Lounge (it was hard to get up this early!). During the day there were presentations for smaller groups (60 people), in the Captain's Lounge (normally off limits for passengers), and the Dome nightclub. All the presentations were very informative, and some of the talks I attended included:
At Sea then and now by Shauna Hicks
Connecting back to the country of Origin by Jeremy Palmer
Biographical Dictionary of Australia by Carol Baxter
Scottish Research by Mike Murray
Death Certificates and Archaic Medical Terms by Helen Smith
Roots Tech by Jan Gow and Allan Murrin
Breaking Down Brick Walls by Helen Smith
Occupational records: getting them working for you by Cora Num
Trove by Shauna Hicks
Family Search by Allan Murrin
Genealogy on the Cheap by Shauna Hicks.
These are only some of the talks I attended, and are only a snapshot of what was available! The whole cruise program and some handouts are on the Unlock The Past website.
There were also special interest topics which could be discussed with a facilitator over lunch or dinner. It was great to meet, and network, with other genealogists, and I took the opportunity to chat with people from WA, and those from other states. We managed to "brain storm" a number of topics over coffee, or a glass of wine. Apart from attending genie talks, Ralph and I were in teams that won three trivia quiz games - though not the genealogy and history one! We won the much sought after prizes of a P&O key-ring, stubbie holder and hat! We also watched horse racing, golf chipping and some of the spectacular entertainment held, each night, in the show lounge. We didn't even place one bet in the casino, or make it to the late night comedy show.
I can thoroughly recommend attending one of these cruises. You can have a great holiday and learn as you go. Congratulations to Alan Phillips and his team for organizing this cruise. There is another cruise planned for November 2011. It will be visiting New Zealand and will be featuring Irish and Scottish research.
Check out the Unlock the Past website for more information.