Aerial overview Darwin and Brisbane

Yesterday I flew interstate on an unexpected trip to Brisbane. So what you might say…well, while I’ve made this journey many times, for some reason yesterday’s flight paths were out of the ordinary.

In Darwin, we took off in a westerly direction from the runway, all well and good except Brisbane is south. However the bonus was that we did a wide circuit over the harbour looking at the Wet Season green of the vegetation, the rivers and coastline fringed with white sand, the boats in the marina at Cullen Bay and out on the harbour. The sandbar near Cullen Bay was exposed, something that happens when the tide is particularly low. You could see the waterfront complex and all the new high rises in the city. As they tell you on the guided tours, Darwin harbour is about twice the size of Sydney’s world-renowned harbour so it’s impressive.

You’d be forgiven for thinking, as you look at this tropical magnificence, “oh if only I was down there swimming”. Sadly this isn’t possible most of the year and especially so in the Wet Season. Those beautiful waters are home to stingers which can kill you and they pull out about 200 crocodiles a year, bearing in mind they’re the ones they trap (and relocate). Of course there are no doubt sharks out there too but with the other two “deadlies” out there, what’s a shark between friends. I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve swum in the harbour since we arrived in Darwin over a decade ago.

I had business papers to read on the flight so the 3.5 hours of the flight passed quickly among the clouds.

To add icing to the flight-path cake, on approach to Brisbane we came in from the west, which again doesn’t happen all that often. Usually the approach of Darwin flights is from the east over Moreton Island and the Brisbane river and mangrove flats. Yesterday we followed the river’s serpentine path as it flowed past The University of Queensland where I’ve spent many years of my life, parallel to the CBD with my old school off to one side a little, and the Gabba where Brisbane’s major cricket matches are played. We then angled around to come in over Teneriffe and Newstead House.

All in all a wonderful aerial tour of two cities I’ve lived in for many years, topped off by a smooth landing by the Qantas pilot.

Beyond the Internet Week 1: Church interiors

Stained glass memorial windows for the Garvey and Hogan families

On his Graceland album, Paul Simon sings of “angels in the architecture”, a phrase that has always resonated with me. But have you considered that perhaps church architecture and interiors are also a source of references to your ancestral angels.

Where possible most of us try to locate and photograph the churches of significance to our family’s history: where our ancestors worshipped, were married or buried and where children were baptised.

Nothing on this window gives a clue that John and Honora Garvey lived and died in Ireland.

But how closely do we look at the church’s architecture and features for family inspiration…probably not often enough.

Thanks to oral history I found these wonderful memorial stained glass windows in the Catholic parish church of St Peter’s in Surry Hills, Sydney. This church didn’t feature in any of my direct ancestral history but preserved there are the links between the Irish and Australian branches of my great-great-grandmother’s family. The Hogan family is that of Patrick and Catherine Hogan who lived in Sydney after immigrating there. The Garvey family is that of John and Honora Garvey of Bodyke, County Clare. Some of their children migrated to Australia while others went to the United States. Honora and Catherine were sisters to my 2xgreat-grandmother Mary O’Brien Kunkel and her other sister Bridget O’Brien Widdup. Without my 3rd cousin’s personal knowledge and her generosity in sharing, I’d never have known these existed.

Patrick and Catherine Hogan were Clare emigrants living in Sydney.

Have you looked at your family’s churches to see if there are clues about your angels in the architecture? Stained glass windows, bells, donated items, plaques or kneelers might provide valuable clues.

Have you got other tips about what might be found?

This is the first in a series of posts drawing on my Beyond the Internet geneameme from 2011.

I’m delighted that others have joined in and posted on this theme. See Julie’s post at Anglers Rest and Aillin’s at Australian Genealogy Journeys.

I’m more than happy for anyone to join in on the Beyond the Internet themes.

Gravestone Janet McArthur – Kilmorich Churchyard Cairndow, Argyll

Janet McArthur grave at Kilmorich Kirk

This photograph from my archives was taken in March 2003 at the Kilmorich Parish kirk in Cairndow, Argyll, Scotland. One of the reasons I took it was because it linked Scotland to New Zealand.  Perhaps Alexander’s family don’t yet know of his Argyll ancestry or that the gravestone was erected by him.

The words on the stone are:

In Loving Memory of Janet McArthur who died Drishaig 3rd April 1896. Aged 93 years.

Erected by Alexander McArthur, New Zealand 1904

Cairndow is sometimes also shown as Cairndhu on old records. My own great-great-grandmother is buried there.

Tropical Territory – new blog, new images

My Territory blog posts have been fairly popular and I’ve been intrigued by some of the 365 days of photography series. Michelle Goodrun from The Turning of Generations has started a new blog called Shutterbug Generations which inspired me to open a new blog for my photos of life and scenes around the Top End. It will be separate from this blog so people can choose to follow or not.

I’ve called it Tropical Territory and it will be photos with only a short caption (if any) on each. Mostly they’ll be photos I’ve taken on that day or the day before but if for some reason that comes unstuck I may sneak in some older ones I’ve taken. I’ll tweet my posts but won’t humbug people on Google+ with them. We’ll see how it goes. (You can see how focused I’ve been so far this year. But to be fair I’ve edited some 40 pages of my draft family history).

52 Weeks of Abundant Genealogy: Week 1: Blogs to inspire.

Amy Coffin of the We Tree blog, in conjunction with Geneabloggers, has kicked off 2012 with a new series of weekly blogging prompts themed as 52 Weeks of Abundant Genealogy.  Week 1 is Blogs: Blogging is a great way for genealogists to share information with family members, potential cousins and each other. For which blog are you most thankful? Is it one of the earliest blogs you read, or a current one? What is special about the blog and why should others read it?

After some deliberation I decided that Judy Webster’s series of blogs are most deserving of my #1 Vote. In 2011, Judy set up the Genealogists for Families blog with the motto: We care about families (past, present and future). Judy inspired many of us to join her and make microloans through Kiva. By doing this we can have a great impact on the lives of families around the world who are struggling for economic and family independence.

However, Judy Webster has also been a force in Queensland (Australia) genealogy for many years. Her blog Queensland Genealogy builds on her earlier webpage in which she offers free indexes to a large number of resources held by the Queensland State Archives and tips us off on which ones are valuable to use. Anyone with family history interests in Queensland would benefit from following her blog or reading her book Tips for Queensland Research. She also hosts other blogs but for me, the Queensland Genealogy blog is leader of the stable.

The topic called for one blogger to be nominated but as the topic is Abundant Genealogy I can’t omit Geniaus who is a lynch-pin for Aussie genealogists providing linkages, pertinent posts and geneamemes and is “our” RootsTech blogger. I’m also thankful to Geniaus and Carole Riley for their supportive comments on my own blog during its infancy, which encouraged me to keep going.

And abundantly, those many bloggers whose stories I follow regularly, some of whom are listed here.

Dreaming on a travel cloud

Demonstrating a complete lack of focus, I was tempted by Tagxedo word clouds posted by Aillin from Australian Genealogy Journeys. I’ll now stop this and go and write the post I intended to….but it was surely fun and using new tech toys has to count for something…surely?

A "travel to" cloud...what fun.

Aspirations and goals for 2012: PROWLS

First and foremost, Happy New Year/Happy Hogmanay to my readers. I hope 2012 brings you an abundance of discoveries and excitement in your family history.

Having felt a tad unfocused in 2011, I’ve been giving some thought to want I want to achieve with my family history in 2012. So here it is – my goals and aspirations…maybe they (and you!) will keep me “honest” over the year. I’m hoping my acronym will help keep me focused on these points.


Seems a bit cart-before-the-horse putting this first, but it’s at the head of my list because it’s the thing I most want to achieve. I have a draft history written for my Melvin family which needs gaps filled, research added, and editing done. It’s possible it may even need a re-write as I’m undecided about the style I’ve used….sigh.

A lower-priority “wish list” publication is a small book for my grandchildren about their ancestors.


Somehow in 2011 my research felt like it took a back seat. Did it in reality? I’m not sure, but either way I want to get down and dirty in the records more often in 2012. I’d love that to be in the archives but if that’s just not possible geographically, then it will have to be online or microfilm.

This is the year when I decide whether I do more detailed research on the east Clare immigrants to eastern Australia, and if so, what I do with that. I also need to leave time for evolving research opportunities.


More scanning of documents and (tagging of) photographs … I have lots of “stuff” from pre-computers that I really need to digitise.

Monitoring of what I’m actually doing and staying focused is important also.

Genealogy Program: I’ve mentioned before that family history computer software makes me feel like I’m hobbled. Perhaps it’s time to revisit this attitude and perhaps try a new program in lieu of Relatively Yours which I’ve had for years because of its holistic information approach (atypical in those years). Can’t decide whether to upgrade my copy of The Master Genealogist to Version 8 or try Family Historian.


I much prefer to write up my findings than to put them into a genealogy database. It feels less confining and enables me to add the background story and pictures as well as the data and source references. It also lets me highlight the gaps in my information and where I need to dig deeper.

In an ideal world I’ll keep a running file on each family to which I add. Note, this is my ideal but I’d like to get back into this habit in 2012, with greater clarity and focus.


Once again I plan to do some more Pharos courses while the pound is weak and the Aussie dollar is strong.

I’ll also be following blogs on Google Reader throughout the year to learn what everyone else is up to, as well as listening in to some RootsTech presentations and webinars.


Blogging will be the key component of my sharing strategy in 2012. I hope to continue writing about my own research but thought I might use some of the items from my Beyond the Internet geneameme to highlight different resources (off line and online) and how they’ve advanced my family stories. This may or may not tie in with the new 52 weeks of Abundant Genealogy series by Amy Coffin & Geneabloggers.

My thoughts have been skirmishing around setting up two more blogs: one exclusively for my Dorfprozelten research and one which will be updates and new research on my Kunkel family history since the 2003 publication of Grassroots Queenslanders: The Kunkel family. I’m particularly undecided on the latter and whether it’s best served by being split off from Family History across the Seas.

I’m looking forward to 2012 in the genealogy world and learning and sharing with my online mates.