After all the anticipation and excitement, #Congress_2018 has come and gone in a flash. There was certainly a buzz around Sydney’s International Convention Centre as a record number of genealogists came together to learn, meet new genimates, and have fun.
Amidst the whirl it’s sometimes difficult to appreciate just what you’ve learned until you take time out for reflection. This post will be about the social scene and then I’ll get a bit “meaty and dependable” to quote my geminate GeniAus.
We started Congress unofficially on Thursday at the Society of Australian Genealogists where we registered and joined the group of mates already busy chatting and comparing notes. Everyone just about had to be thrown out when “time” was called at 5pm. A gentle stroll to Circular Quay presented us with a view of the gi-mungous Ovation of the Seas. Our ferry ride round to Pyrmont reminded us of the Congress theme “Bridging the Past and the Future” and also gave me an opportunity to take a photo of the replica Endeavour sailing ship that is actually 100 tons bigger than the Florentia on which I believe my ancestor, Mary O’Brien emigrated.
Friday was registration day and the first day of Congress lectures. I was kept busy handing out the “First Time Attendees” ribbons (kindly donated by GeniAus) to the newbies at Congress as well my “Kiva Genealogists for Families”, Queenslander and “Blogging Down Under” ribbons. Mr Cassmob waylaid anyone who showed an interest in Genies for Families and provided them with a flyer about this group activity initiated by Queensland genealogist Judy Webster and Lilian provided others. Fran aka the Travel Genee shared some ribbons she’d liberated at Roots Tech as well as promotional ribbons for the Waves in Time Conference on the Sunshine Coast in May 2019 . All that ribbon activity left some people mystified, and others with a severe dose of ribbon envy.
Friday lunch was an informal gathering of random genies in the Harbourside Food Court. Dinner was a birthday celebration with our friend and fellow genimate from Darwin and we enjoyed having a few days to chat instead of an hour or so every six months. Unfortunately, I couldn’t attend a couple of other activities, including the Newbies Welcome.
Saturday lunch was time out for me after my first presentation, Uncovering your Irish ancestors, and questions after the session. Saturday night was, of course, the Congress dinner at Rydges. We successfully negotiated the Light Rail so were pleased with ourselves. Our dinner table included some genimates, “old” and new and there was no shortage of chatter. Sadly, our construction abilities, and commitment, were lacking despite the efforts of a small team on the table. Once again, “time” had to be called before our group left the hotel.
By Sunday, the energy levels were fading a bit for those of us who aren’t natural extroverts (nothing at all to do with the previous night’s wine intake!). At lunch time I was pleased to have been able to coordinate the meeting of my O’Brien cousin with her Fisher (paternal line) cousin. Nora has been invaluable in helping me with oral history and photos so it was great to have a chance for a catch-up and connect her to another line.
Monday was photo shoots for various groups and I was sorry to miss the Bloggers photo as I had been chairing the previous session. I managed to get into at least one of the Queensland group.
And then, in the blink of an eye, it was all over. The organisers thanked, friends farewelled, and the group dispersed – until another time. A huge thanks to Martyn, Heather, Danielle, Mel and all the volunteers for their hard work in making this Congress a success: it takes huge commitment to pull off a success like #Congress_2018.