Summarising some of the 4th cruise survey feedback

On 4 February 2014 245 people set sail on the Voyager of the Seas as part of the Unlock the Past conference group. What lay ahead were eight days of exciting conference and ship activities as we sailed from Sydney to Melbourne, Adelaide, and Hobart before making our way back to Sydney again. With presenters such as Chris Paton (Scotland), Thomas MacEntee (USA), Jane Taubman (England), Kirsty Gray (England), Shauna Hicks (Australia), Jan Gow (New Zealand), Noeline Kyle (Australia), Neil Smith (Australia) and a host of other supporting speakers how could it fail to be a success? We even got a tour of the southern skies with Melissa Hulbert who is an astronomer at the Sydney Observatory.

A survey following the cruise (95 respondents) indicated that most people found it a very worthwhile experience and learned much to take them forward in their research. The following extracts are key points from the survey.

 Question – How do you rate the ….?

Response (%)

Excellent/Very good


 General cruise experience?



 Voyager staff?






 Voyager as a conference venue?



 Conference organisation on the ship?



 Speakers and presentations?



 Networking experience on the cruise?



 Value for money?



Over 6o percent of those responding indicated that their research experience and knowledge had been improved “considerably” or “quite a bit”. No matter how experienced one is in researching there is always something more to learn and or to share with others – Audrey Dillon.

Another indicator of the success of the conference is the number of presentations people attended. Of course, there were many competing shipboard activities and sometimes topics were not relevant to cruisers. With over 100 topics on offer in 50 slots there was a range of attendance at presentations – 21% attended 40-49, 24% attended 30-39, 29% attended 20-29, 19% attended 10-19 and 7% attended 9 or less.

There were some issues raised around the Research Help Zone and cruiser “interest lists” and these concerns will be addressed on future cruises.



It was tremendous to be able to listen and take notes from the presentations available. I was impressed with the speakers’ massive amount of knowledge obtained through their research which they took time … to pass on to us. They are certainly a dedicated group of teachers.

I found the speakers very interesting to listen to and I was impressed greatly with the huge amount of knowledge they have gained in their research. It was great to be able to learn from their research.

Speakers were easy to engage and interested if a person asked them a question later.

The planning and organisation of the 4th Cruise was exceptional, and provided so much of interest for genealogists, from beginners to the more experienced. It is now up to all of us researchers to put the knowledge we gained into making our Family History a pleasure for our descendants to read and learn from, in years to come. – Audrey Dillon.

The cruise inspired me to try new avenues for my research. I’ve had success in breaking through some of my “brickwalls” since the cruise.


Some success stories from the cruise and places visited in ports

Quite a number reported successes they had either with help on the cruise with some of the libraries and other places they visited while import. Here are a few examples:

From Dawn

One of my dining companions, Gwen, had researched her father’s arrival in Australia on the SS Ballarat in 1927. She had discovered a diary written by a fellow passenger about the voyage and he had described over exuberant young men and the reality of basic accommodation in third class and the challenges of keeping passengers entertained! My grandfather had also come to Australia on the SS Ballarat but in 1922 so I was encouraged to try and find a diary written on his voyages and I did. The Immigration Museum in Adelaide holds two diaries of the same voyage and I was delighted to read about the day to day life on board.

From Bruce

My thanks to Lesley Silvester for helping me in the Research Help Zone on the last day of the cruise to break through a brick wall with my ancestors in Tasmania, circa 1830.

She helped me by :

  • suggesting that I create a timeline for those events I had discovered (to bring some order into my research)
  • explaining how the ticket of leave system worked in Tasmania in convict days
  • encouraging me to search on Trove and Google for ancestors whose names I knew
  • showing me how to go about finding ship passenger lists

As a result, I discovered the name and voyage date of the ship on which my 3x great-grandfather arrived in Hobart with his wife and five children, and was able from there to find details of all the family including BDM information, occupation and address.

I also discovered details about the husband of two of the daughters (yes, he married two of them – but not at the same time) including a book – I now have a copy – about his boat-building business, in which my family may have participated.

Thanks Lesley for your time, patience and expertise (and also your great music, with Mike, on the Sunday night).

From Colyn

I went to South Australian State Library to check on a ‘possible’ relation Joseph Trumper who married in Mt Gambier in 1867 who was apparently the one who had arrived in 1856.

I was delighted to read the original shipping manifest which identified his place of birth as MIDDLX, and aged 28.

As there were only four Joseph Trumper’s in the whole of England in 1851 census, my 2 x great grandmother’s younger brother Joseph born 1827 at Harefield MDX, a father and son living in Burnham BKM (already known more distantly related family) and one from an unrelated family in Herefordshire, this confirmed that he really was my ‘missing’ brother Joseph who had ‘disappeared’ from records from England after the 1851 census.

Now, all I have to do is to try to find birth details of his daughter Mary Harriet born c1873 and her children, only one of whom was registered – all others apparently just recorded in Catholic Baptism records at Naracoorte.