Not sure? – ASK !


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When you’re at that stage in your research that you’re sure something should exist but you just can’t find it – sit back and think quietly and logically – and if you’re still stuck – ASK!  I’m not simply talking about asking questions on Facebook – and don’t get me wrong I personally have had a lot of success on Facebook and hopefully helped many others with their questions.

I’m talking about asking experts – and sometimes more than one expert – two or more brains are often better than one!

I’ve mentioned this in a previous blog – Ask a librarian – it’s wonderful!  And there have been many other occasions where the opportunity to ask a librarian has been an absolute gold-mine.

This time I was stuck with some land records from the Public Record Office Victoria – VPRS 460.

I also made a big MISTAKE – I didn’t read and understand the description for VPRS 460: Applications for Certificate of Title.  I merely groaned and said … “Murphy’s Law – the ones I want aren’t there!”

I had quickly read the description that said …

Note that VPRS 460/P0 units 3213 to 30298 do not exist.

I had incorrectly presumed that the FILES I wanted weren’t there whereas the description stated that the UNITS weren’t there!

If you read the description now, you could be forgiven for saying I was silly not to read the next couple of sentences which were perfectly clear.  BUT I wasn’t that silly, I’m just grateful that PROV have since updated the description in the catalogue so others don’t make the same mistake that I did.

After I ASKED for help, the verbal explanation made perfect sense … part way through the consignment [P0], they had changed the way the Application files were catalogued – initially UNITS equated to boxes which contained numerous FILES.  From Application File Number 30299, each FILE was a UNIT.

The Application files EXIST – all the ones I’d grumbled about as “missing” were there!  My big mistake – I didn’t read the Description properly and I didn’t ASK!

And why are these files so important?  The contents can be amazing.

The ACTUAL Application files are currently in the Land Titles archives at Laverton – the General Law Library for the Registrar General Office documents.  The SUPPORTING documents are at PROV.  From the PROV description of VPRS 460:

If the researcher holds a certificate of title for the piece of land, then the application number may be marked on that certificate. If present, the number may be shown with the words, for example, “derived from application number 12345”.

This series consists of the files created to record the progress of applications to bring land alienated from the Crown prior to 2 October 1862 into the Torrens system of land registration.

VPRS 460 at PROV contains the details and background documents.  At the beginning of this blog is an image of a death certificate.  Why?  In VPRS 460, together with a Statutory Declaration they were evidence as to why the family of the late John MACKEN / McKIE had no claim to the land.  In fact the Stat Dec gave amazing details of John MACKEN’s life and work on the property in question.

Another property I was researching contained multiple documents including an Indenture for a Mortgage.  It was a LONG document to transcribe but well worth it when you find these amazing words:

portion of the said land has been and is now used as a cemetery

Not exactly what you expect to find but it had been claimed that two people were buried on the property.  Other documents in the VPRS 460 file also refer to this private burial ground.

Now do you understand why I love finding VPRS 460 Application files?

And I am so glad that I ASKED!



CHALLENGE – who was G. G. M., photographer?



A little over a month ago I came across this beautiful photograph of the Miller’s Family Hotel – one of my favourites and included in my book Hotels of the Bellarine Peninsula.  The image was from the State Library Victoria online collection – H2002.198/72

One thing I noticed was that there was no location recorded for this image so I was in the process of contacting the State Library when I noticed the ‘creator’ – G. G. M., photographer.

On further investigation there were 121 images attributed to G.G.M. with a number being around the Bellarine Peninsula.  I have a web page identifying all photographers in Geelong and District and G.G.M. wasn’t included in my list.

I checked the two main references for photographers in Australia – The Mechanical Eye in Australia: Photography 1841-1900, Alan Davies & Peter Stanbury, 1985, and Australians Behind the Camera: Directory of Early Australian Photographers 1841 to 1945, Sandy Barrie, 2002.

There was one possible entry: George G MURRAY (New York Studio / New York Photo Co.:

  • 246 Collins Street, Melbourne 1903-06
  • 244 Collins Street, Melbourne 1908
  • 28 Union Street, Brunswick 1912-19
  • 28 Union Street, Brunswick 1936-37

The G.G.M. images in the SLV catalogue were dated ca 1914 – ca 1916 however Gerard, a Librarian from the SLV Pictures Collection, has positively identified one of these images to November 1906.  In fact Gerard has provided a great deal of information including the fact that the donor of this collection and numerous SLV staff had spent a great deal of time trying to identify G.G.M.

Another clue from Gerard and other librarians from the SLV Pictures Collection was that perhaps G.G.M. ‘might have been a skilled and ambitious amateur rather than a full-blown professional.  There is something amateurish in the way he inscribes his initials on the negatives.’

In addition to numerous locations, G.G.M.’s images include many people – I think perhaps these are of his parents and siblings.  I wonder if family historians / genealogists can help solve this conundrum?  Certainly someone related to this family would discover a number of images of members of their family.

People mentioned (could be siblings):

  • Mum
  • Dad
  • Self
  • Alan (also in AIF uniform)
  • Bert (also in AIF uniform)
  • Daisy
  • Elsie
  • Jerry
  • Rose
  • Jim
  • Ted

Locations mentioned:

  • Portarlington, Vic
  • Clifton Springs, Vic
  • Kyneton, Vic
  • Healesville, Vic
  • Coburg, Vic
  • Brunswick, Vic
  • Lilydale, Vic
  • Richmond, Vic
  • Melbourne, Vic
  • Beaconsfield, Vic
  • Badgers Creek, Vic
  • Williamstown, Vic
  • Fern Tree Gully, Vic
  • Sassafras, Vic
  • West Gippsland, Vic
  • Belgrave, Vic
  • Coogoo, NSW
  • Dubbo, NSW

Property / house name:

  • River Lea
  • River Lea and Mount Toolebewong? (shown in the background)

To find all 121 images look at the details of one of his images and click on the link beside AUTHOR for G. G. M., Photographer

The results show 118 images but a couple of those have two images in the link.

So are you up to the challenge?  Who was G. G. M., photographer.

Sharing G. G. M., photographer might unearth family members who recognise the family and siblings.

Do we belong here?


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Sometimes you just have to read something!  It’s not very long – less than 1,670 words – in fact less than 4 pages.

I challenge anyone who has ever done any family or local history research to read this and not want to go back for more or to pass it on to others.

Graeme is well known for a number of books such as the Rise and Fall of Marvellous Melbourne.  On 16th October 2017 Graeme spoke at the 2017 Victorian Community History Awards at the Arts Centre in Melbourne – fortunately you can read his words in the Public Record Office Victoria blog.

I hope this blog never disappears as it deserves to be read again and again.

In fact if you ever find it missing, I’ve copied the text to a safe place and would not hesitate to ask for it to be reinstated.

Enjoy – it’s definitely worth reading.

Some things make you laugh out loud



Oh how I wish I could credit this to the person who created it but there are TOO MANY versions on the web, many claiming ownership.  So I tried but failed to credit the originator – I’m sure you know who you are and to you I say Thank You for making me laugh out loud.  Definitely got a strange look from my house companion – my pussy cat!

There are millions of clever genealogy sayings out there but this one is SO appropriate for Victoria, Australia – today is a Public Holiday for the Grand Final parade.  Tomorrow the Grand Final is between the Adelaide Crows (from interstate but favourites as they finished top of the home-and-away end-of-season ladder)  and the Richmond Tigers (local – Melbourne – favourites as Melbourne is where the AFL Grand Final is generally held.  Anyway, that’s the reason for the Public Holiday in Victoria – not a Public Holiday anywhere else in Australia!

It’s even more appropriate if your team isn’t in the Grand Final and you want to drown your sorrows – go Ancestor Hunting instead!

AND I hope it makes you laugh out loud.

I’m going to chase more of mine:

Shoes – Glorious Shoes!


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Do you know how wonderful it is to wear a pair of shoes for the first time in more than 3 months?  Obviously VERY low heels – but I’ve long given up wearing high heels anyway.

BUT, most importantly, the swelling is down enough for me to actually get my feet in the shoes.  A couple of visits to the physio and meticulously doing my exercises have paid off!

Still need lots more exercises and physio appointments to get me back to where I was but well on the way.


It’s not too late for Adelaide and Perth!


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I’m back home after attending the full two days of ‘Researching Abroad’ in Melbourne – ONE major complaint!  I didn’t want it to end!

Friday was predominantly Chris PATON on Scottish, Irish, and English research.

Saturday was predominantly Dirk Weissleder on German and European research.

Which was best?  I just feel sorry for the people who had / have to choose between one or the other – I was lucky as Melbourne was a two-day experience and I absolutely loved both and learnt so much from them.

In addition to Chris and Dirk I really enjoyed the MyHeritage presentations, Part 1 and Part 2 with Rosemary and Eric Kopittke – definitely worthwhile.

I caught up with a number of friends and former colleagues and was delighted to meet up with my fellow ‘Official Ambassadors’ – Anne Young (left) and Jennifer Jones (middle).

Apart from my own German ancestry (New South Wales) there were a lot of German immigrants to my ‘local’ region – Geelong and District.  I’m definitely keen to follow up more with the German-Australian Genealogy and History Alliance and the International German Genealogy Partnership.

It was a great two days – you still have a chance to attend the Adelaide and Perth sessions so jump up and do it!

A WEEK full of family history – and a haircut!


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From famine to feast!  I’m making the most of my newfound mobility minus the moon-boot and with wheels!

It all kicks off today with the first Family History talk I’m giving for some months – at the Wyndham Plaza Library in Werribee – TWO talks this afternoon – they’re free and you can still book.  I’m really hoping I’ll catch up with some old friends there.

Mind you I WILL have trouble seeing people there because my hair is SO LONG as I haven’t been able to get to the hairdressers for SO LONG.  I have to keep pushing the hair out of my eyes!

Things will improve by Wednesday as that is when I will get my hair cut – Yippee!

Then I am SO looking forward to listening and learning instead of talking on Friday and Saturday at the Unlock the Past Researching Abroad event at Bulleen in Melbourne.  It is just so great to be out and about but even more-so to get to this event.  Yes – I’m an ‘Official Ambassador’ and more than happy to promote the event because the two days are SO relevant to my own family history research:

  • I have German ancestors
  • I have French, Swiss and Italian ancestors
  • I have Irish and English ancestors
  • I’ll be catching up with Chris Paton who I haven’t seen for a number of years!
  • I’m a great fan of My Heritage
  • My brother and I have both done DNA tests
  • AND I’m sure I’ll be catching up with a number of friends.

Hope to see you at Werribee or Bulleen or both!

Where things come together!


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It is just over three weeks before these three images connect for me – and if you have any German (or European) ancestors it might just be where things come together for you.

What I’m talking about is the Researching Abroad Roadshow in Melbourne on Friday 18th August and Saturday 19th August, or check out the web site for other locations.

It is not just my German ancestry that makes the ‘Researching Abroad Roadshow’ in Melbourne an essential date in my calendar:

  • I have other European ancestors
  • I have Irish and English ancestors
  • My brother and I have both done DNA tests

The last time I wrote about this fast-approaching roadshow I was celebrating the fact that by now I would be free of my moon-boot.  Unfortunately not quite there – 3 weeks added to the immobility – BUT I WILL be free of it by the time I head to Bulleen in Melbourne.

Something I’ll share with you – for many years I avoided researching my ‘foreign’ ancestors – put it in the too hard basket because of the ‘language’.  It was much easier to concentrate on my English-speaking ancestors.  The trigger to me plunging in off the deep end was reading various journals from the Burwood & District Family History Group that included many articles on German immigrants to Australia.  I made amazing progress and I am looking forward to the next chapter at the Researching Abroad Roadshow.  If you’ve been frightened to take that step into ‘foreign’ research, this is the opportunity you want to grab with both hands!

See you there.

ADDENDUM: Oh, and while you’re looking at the UTP web site about the Roadshow you’ll find references to ‘OFFICIAL AMBASSADORS’ as per the logo at the beginning of this blog.  Yes, I’m an Official Ambassador and really appreciate the opportunity to promote the Researching Abroad Roadshow.  There was always the possibility that I physically couldn’t get there due to my broken ankle and I’m so glad that I’m going to make it.

That advice?


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OK – trying to count to 20 and take some deep breaths.  I can’t believe that a so-called Customer Service person can be so aggressive and use a tone of voice that was just outright bullying.  This is the continuing saga from my last blog!

Yep, I raised my voice in the end and then pulled myself up and lowered it.  I asked if he believed his attitude was that of a good Customer Service person and what happened to the old adage that a customer is always right?

I don’t think that some Customer Service people from WOOLWORTHS understand the term ‘Customer Service’.

He wasn’t interested in the mistakes or lack of Customer Service made by WOOLWORTHS – and that image above is straight from the WOOLWORTHS online ordering web site.  All the ‘Customer Service’ supervisor wanted was to tell me what was on the Whiskas site.

He tried to tell me that 1+ was for ALL cats – kittens, adult, senior.

Well, why have 7+ items on the Whiskas web site?

And why have ADULT ones on the WOOLWORTHS web site?  The Customer Service expert said it was a mistake and shouldn’t be there and he’d get it removed immediately!  I asked why I had received one of those exact same boxes in the delivery last Wednesday (together with two totally different boxes)?  Obviously the last one on the shelf said the Customer Service expert.  And kept referring me to the Whiskas web site.

Well, it wasn’t Whiskas who delivered the incorrect items – it was WOOLWORTHS.  It wasn’t Whiskas who made promises on the phone – it was WOOLWORTHS – although I’ve given WOOLWORTHS 72 hours – not the 24 or 48 they had promised would result in a least a phone call.

I asked for and received a refund for the last order – that will take 3-5 business days.  I think the ‘Customer Service’ expert was pleased to be able to tick off another successful customer put down!  Still no food for my cat but I honestly can’t put up with the sort of aggressive conversation I had on the phone tonight.  It’s hard enough not being able to go to a shop / supermarket and find something suitable for my elderly cat without having to put up with that as well.