Sepia Saturday: Paper…Expo…read all about it

Sepia Saturday 174Even though I had some photos which suited this week’s theme, they just didn’t seem to have a thread to draw them together – other than one of us reading the newspaper. I had decided I would pass on this theme, when a related sub-theme came to mind. It just didn’t occur to me until this morning that the event in question would commence its 25th anniversary tomorrow.Expo88catologo

1988 was Australia’s Bicentennial year, celebrating 200 years of white settlement and Australia as it’s come to be today. From an Indigenous point of view it was certainly contentious and perhaps was also a turning point in the debate about the impact of settlement and colonisation on the country’s indigenous peoples.

Sydney Harbour, Australia Day 1988

Sydney Harbour, Australia Day 1988

Overall it was a year full of events and celebrations for those so inclined, starting with the arrival of the Tall Ships. On Australia Day the huge display of Tall Ships, sailing boats and large navy vessels cheek-by-jowl in Sydney Harbour was thrilling and the day culminated in one of Sydney’s iconic  fireworks display.

A view of the Expo site from a hot air balloon, early 1987, or was it 1988?

A view of the Expo site from a hot air balloon, early 1987.

In Brisbane, the event of the year was World Expo 1988. Starting on 30th April, early autumn, it last an exciting, interesting, and fun six months. Brisbane turned on its best winter weather full of sunshine and clear blue skies and the westerly winds didn’t turn up too soon. I remember that we’d planned only to get a multiple-entry pass for financial reasons given we had school fees etc to take care of. Then someone (who??) talked me into the merits of a full season pass. It was a fantastic decision because it meant we could come and go as we pleased, for as long or as short a time as we liked.

Opening Day of Expo was a crush and a buzz of happiness.

Opening Day of Expo was a crush and a buzz of happiness.

Expo was held on the south bank of the Brisbane River, clearing a huge area, and most unfortunately displacing many of the poorer people who lived in the area. It had been the dry dock area and I recall that my great aunt lived there with her son, for a while after a stroke.

And here's the link ! A statue "reads" the newspaper at Expo.

And here’s the link ! A statue “reads” the newspaper at Expo.

The morning Expo 88 opened the crowds were packed densely at the gates, but full of anticipation. There was a surge of excitement when the gates opened, but It really didn’t matter when you went, there was always so much going on and so much to see. The Canadian and New Zealand pavilions rapidly became high-demand venues, so if you walked past and there was no queue you didn’t miss a chance. We loved the Nepalese pavilion, now preserved in the South Bank Parklands. Everywhere there were fun statues in poses which suited their location (many have been resited around Brisbane). Taking family photos near them became everyone’s hobby.

I had to include this one of Mr Cassmob's parents with the statues-great newspaper reader themselves and her hat echoes that of the woman's.

I had to include this one of Mr Cassmob’s parents with the statues-great newspaper reader themselves and her hat echoes that of the woman’s.

Mr Cassmob's aunt, moi, and DD2 and 3 outside the Oz pavilion.

Mr Cassmob’s aunt, moi, and DD2 and 3 outside the Oz pavilion.

There were concerts at the river which attracted huge crowds, and parades in the streets. Our older two then-teenaged daughters would sometimes go on their own to meet friends on a weekend after school or their part-time work. It was great because you knew they were safe.

There were street performers to entertain, footpath artists and a wondrous array of objects, even an original copy of the Magna Carta, to enjoy in the pavilions. Brisbane had never seen the like before. Even if our daughters had missed out on our travel gene (unlikely!), this certainly ensured that foreign lands captured their imaginations. Youngest daughter and I would often visit on the earlier evenings of the week while Mr Cassmob was studying, then he and I would have a date night later in the week.

The Nepalese pavilion had delicious sweets and samosas if I remember correctly.

The Nepalese pavilion had delicious sweets and samosas if I remember correctly.

There it is!

There it is!

Expo statues2Each of the countries represented had their own food stall and there was such variety to choose from. Unfortunately I didn’t get to enjoy this so much because it coincided with a fun period on a rigorous food elimination diet: potatoes and beans anyone?

One of the events at Expo was the Irish release of the Australian-Irish convict register on computer. On it I discovered information for my expat friend in the USA who was also researching Gavins but not my mob.

There really was something for everyone with so much entertainment and new experiences. It became a great place to catch up with friends and family and I was so pleased that we stretched the budget to a full pass for each of us. It was a great investment and we surely got our money’s worth.

We were there on opening day and it was such fun as our eyes popped with all the new sights and experiences. We were there on closing day and it was so sad: no surprise that youngest daughter had her face painted with tears. In the words of the Seekers’ song “The Carnival is Over”. Expo 88 had been a six month festival that had captured hearts and changed Brisbane forever.

There was much public debate as to how the site should be used and eventually it became a public parkland with a large pool. Adjoining the Brisbane Performing Arts and close to the Art Gallery, Museum and State Library it adds a different dimension to the city.

expo Panorama 1 low

Aussie WDYTYA Season 5

You can buy earlier series of the Aussie WDYTYA online.

You can buy earlier series of the Aussie WDYTYA online.

Are you enjoying this season’s Australian Who Do You Think You Are (WDYTYA)?

I certainly am – I even think this may be their best yet.  The background researchers have done a great job and the individuals we’re following seem to really care about what happened to their families in the past.

James Tanner from Genealogy’s Star was recently bemoaning (rightly!) discussing his experience with helping a friend get started with their genealogy. There does seem to be a tendency for new genealogists to want to wander an orchard full of genealogical data, plucking off whichever fruit appeals to them, or looking for a specific tree called “the Smith Family”.

Certainly the downside of programs like WDYTYA or Ancestry’s advertising, is that they make it appear as if information drops from the skies or is just there for plucking from the trees like ripe fruit. No wonder we’re seeing a proliferation of incorrect and ill-considered trees on public web sites.

Of course, there were probably always some trees full of errors (some of the old patron submissions on the IGI, for example), but they used to be hidden in someone’s cupboard rather than out there for the next quick-fix “researcher” to incorporate into their own tree. I guess there’ll always be those who want to be rigorous with their research, “doubting Thomases” who want the proof and nothing but the proof (me, for example), and those who are happy to rely on “but my family always said…..”.

WDYTYA does make it look easier than it is, and deceptive in how you can research: when was the last time you were taken into the compactus (plural? compactii?) of an archival repository to collect your documents? Yes, right, never!

And yes, newspaper articles are plucked as if from that same magic research tree without reference to Trove, which all Aussie researchers have come to almost take for granted. I have to remind myself that once we were finding at least some of the same information by laborious scrolling of microfilms for pertinent dates or events, or by taking advantage of indexes equally laboriously compiled by volunteers from various family history societies.

What I don’t find myself doing (at least not too much!) is talking to the screen during WDYTYA as I do through “Who’s been sleeping in my house” saying “use Trove”,” look up the BDM indexes”, “check the electoral rolls”.

But returning to last night’s show on Michael Caton (of The Castle and “tell him he’s dreaming” fame), the show made me think about two things pertinent to my own family history:

  1. My Denis Gavin may have left off his work as a carrier after he ceased employment at Binbian Downs, not having the funds to set up his own “rig” but equally he may have been impacted by the encroaching impact of Cobb & Co. This is a thought I’ll be pursuing in future research.
  2. Michael’s ancestor had links to the (in)famous bushranger Thunderbolt both early in his career but also near Tenterfield in the early 1860s because of the gold rush. They didn’t mention this was at Tooloom, only that it was near the Queensland border. However I have evidence that my George Kunkel was working as a pork butcher on the same goldfields. I wonder if he ever sold meat to Thunderbolt? Just one of those irrelevant and silly thoughts –but the fact remains he was working in the same area at the same time so would have been very familiar with the stories of Thunderbolt’s activities.

The other amusing diversion was that during Caton’s visit to Cunnamulla, there was a background sign about the Cunnamulla Fella, the eponymous country song, and apparently also the name of a local festival!

 Have any of the recent WDYTYA shows made you re-think any aspect of your family history?

Trans Tasman Anzac Day Blogging challenge.

I have incorporated my response to this challenge into my A to Z theme for 2013.

You can see my response over here on my Tropical Territory blog.

Sepia Saturday 173: Vegetarians beware

Sepia Saturday 173I can’t believe I almost forgot last weekend’s Sepia Saturday when I had just the photos for it! Comes of dealing with technical problems I guess.

Borough markets1

A couple of years ago my husband and I were able to visit London and actually spent some time sightseeing rather than just doing family history. One of our “discoveries” was the joys of the Borough Markets. Now I’m sure this is old hat to my English readers but what a great time we had looking at all the produce, much of it so different from what we have here, and definitely fresher than a lot we get. The colours and the arrangements were just gorgeous and so photogenic. It was also incredibly cold that morning too, so we actually drank a mulled wine and followed up with a curry at some ridiculously early hour!.

At the Borough Markets

At the Borough Markets

Now I’m not vegetarian – I’m one of those food hypocrites who likes to pretend their meat just appears on Styrofoam trays in the supermarket. But even I couldn’t resist these images of freshly delivered critters. My foodie daughter has no such qualms -she’ll happily look at young lambs gambolling in the field and think how delicious they’ll taste.

Paddock to plate.

Paddock to plate.

I know rabbits can be a pest, and they certainly are here having been imported for hunting by nostalgic British settlers, but they are oh so cute, as well as delicious when cooked. I have a delicious homemade Italian rabbit ragu at a restaurant I like in Brisbane whenever it’s available, and I’m in town.


Ditto the ducks with their gorgeous heads still vibrantly coloured. Peking Duck anyone?

Ducks and pheasants

Not only did we have a fabulous time at the markets we were able to have an interlude visiting the adjacent Southwark Cathedral, St Saviour’s, where Mr Cassmob’s ancestors were married. One of the ushers looked appalled when I said it had a modern feel, I suppose quite rightly given its age, but what I liked about it was its simplicity of line.

St Saviours interior

I can feel a series of photos coming up about our travels on my Tropical Territory blog once I get through the April A to Z challenge.

Borough markets2

Grass Dukes and Shepherd Kings at SLQ

SLQ004If you live within striking distance of Brisbane you might be interested in a visit to see the Queensland State Library’s display entitled Grass Dukes and Shepherd Kings, especially if you have ancestry from the Darling Downs.

I saw this exhibition when I was in Brisbane a few weeks ago and was very impressed with the items on display. It reinforces the points I made during the Beyond the Internet series last year about the vast array of resources which remain undigitised, awaiting the determined family historian’s sleuthing.

There were excellent maps on the walls as well as beautiful paintings – I particularly like Conrad Martens’ paintings of early Darling Downs scenes. Then there are the treasured items of daily life displayed in the cabinets.

But what is really tempting for the family historians are the glimpses of books which would be invaluable to anyone whose family were involved with particular stations eg Talgai Station’s ration book (1866-1868) or Glengallan’s pay register or labour book.  Just imagine those early shepherds on Talgai being issued with their rations.

If you haven’t already dropped by SLQ to have a look why not plan a visit this weekend before the exhibition finishes on 21st April: it’s on the fourth floor near John Oxley Library.

If I get to Queensland again in the next couple of months I’ll be equally interested in their upcoming exhibition Live! Queensland Band Culture. Not only might it provide me clues on various family musicians, but there’s bound to be some happy memories of my own tied up in it.

Sepia Saturday 172: A hiking we will go

2013.03W.34This week’s Sepia Saturday 172 image features some enthusiastic hikers setting off for time in the countryside. The image opens the floodgates of opportunity for hiking, camping and outdoor pursuits. Although I’ve a number of the latter, not so many of the former, still I’m going with hiking just because a couple came to mind.

This one of a friend, my Dad and me on an excursion to Brisbane’s outer bush suburbs.Somehow Dad’s cheery wave reminded me of the Sepia Saturday photo, though I can’t say I look that cheery -or was it that I was looking into the sun.

Hiking and picnicing at Brookfield.

Hiking and picnicing at Brookfield.


I’ve always liked this photo, not because it’s a winner in the photographic category but for the memories it evokes. It shows my parents climbing the steep hill through the rocks from Rocky Bay on Magnetic Island where we holidayed regularly when I was a child, taking the long (1 day, 2 nights) train trip from Brisbane to Townsville then across by ferry. You can read a little of why I loved these holidays so much here and here.

Norman Kunkel at Rocky Bay

I also love this photo of my Dad standing on one of the big rocks for which Rocky Bay is named.

Guide camp and hike

Another oldie is this one of some of my Girl Guide mates on a bush hike. Everyone looks a bit tired don’t you think? Or disinclined to have their photo taken?

Sepia Saturday 171: Herstmonceaux Castle (Kent)

Sepia Sat 171At the moment I’m busy participating in this year’s A to Z challenge on my Tropical Territory blog, but I couldn’t resist posting on this week’s Sepia Saturday. Over the years I’ve photographed many castles but this is one we visited on our 2010 trip overseas. I’m not sure how well known it is, we certainly hadn’t heard of it before.

Herstmonceaux Castle, Kent. Pauleen Cass 2010

Herstmonceaux Castle, Kent. Pauleen Cass 2010

Herstmonceaux Castle is a moated castle with wonderful grounds and gardens which their website describes as Elizabethan though apparently the site pre-dates that significantly as there is “evidence of prehistoric and Roman remains” and the name is derived from “the marriage between a Saxon lady Idonea de Herst and a Norman nobleman Ingelram de Monceaux”.


It was mid-October when we visited and fairly late in the afternoon so the place was closed with not much happening but that didn’t matter because the grounds were so enjoyable.

We were especially taken by the diverse sculptures in the gardens, many with African influences which did seem rather strange in the context albeit impressive. Even though it was well into autumn there were still some flowering plants to admire as well. If we were visiting in the region again it would be worth seeing in a different season.P1120276


Have you ever visited Herstmonceaux? What were your favourite parts?


An invitation to A to Z

A2Z-2013-BADGE-001Small_zps669396f9 (1)Last year I participated in the 2012 A to Z challenge and my theme was my family’s heritage places, long past and recent. Because it related to family history, I my stories posted on this blog.

This year my theme is about tourist spots and interesting places to visit across Australia’s north, especially in the Northern Territory. As well as some “what’s there” and “why visit”, I’m including some photos and some Australian colloquialisms (Aussie-isms, I’m calling them) which might help decipher some of the weird things Aussies say that mystify visitors.

If you feel like a bit of a virtual holiday, I’d like to invite you to join me on my Tropical Territory blog through April. Here’s where I explain what it’s all going to be about, including some maps marked with the places where I’ll be your tour guide from Alice Springs (NT) to Zebedee Springs (WA).