16 March 2010

Australia: Bendigo family history expo

On Sunday, we drove up to Gold Rush country for the Bendigo Family History Expo, visited the famous Hanging Rock, saw my first wallaby, and saw the view from Mt. Macedon (left).

The easy ride from Melbourne went through gently rolling green hills, populated by cows, sheep and horses. There were many wineries, historic towns and mineral springs along the way, but no time, unfortunately, to stop and smell the grapes!

At the expo, there were some 60 experts, local groups and societies filling a large hall at the Bendigo Leisure Center (community center, in the US), but there were no classes or workshops as is usual at similar US events There was a steady stream of visitors all day.

Within 15 minutes of putting up two signs (Jewish Research and MyHeritage.com), and starting a MyHeritage overview looping powerpoint presentation, several people had come over to ask questions about both.

Questions included where to find more information about the families SIMEON (Liverpool, UK) and ISRAELOWITZ (Melbourne), while others shared information about postcards from Israel (pre-state)brought back by fathers and grandfathers who had served in the British and Australian armies.

I learned about Jews who had settled in Avoca, a small area community, and met a man who carried his 13,000-name family tree on his iPhone (using Reunion software).

One young woman stopped by to ask about her great-grandparents named ENGLANDER and MOVRIN (both from Germany). I offered various websites for her to access.

Margaret Brown told me about her JASSNIGER relatives from Vienna (see separate post).

Unfortunately, there was no Internet access at the expo or I could have helped more people directly.

As people came up and asked questions, I wrote down websites for them to access at home, including JewishGen and its many components, Ancestry and others. All public libraries in Victoria carry the Ancestry Library Edition, making it easier for researchers.

Here's my first in-person long-distance wallaby (left). A mob of them were eating grass at the Hanging Rock racecourse.


  1. Chaim Freedman10:16 PM

    Dear Schelly
    As an Australian expatriot I am really enjoying your reports of the conference. Wish I could be there.

    Chaim Freedman

  2. Welcome to Australia. Bendigo did have a Jewish community, settled soon after the gold rush. Later the city also had a beautiful synagogue, well used until the 1920s apparently. Ballarat and Geelong managed to keep their synagogues intact, but all other rural sites were sadly destroyed.

  3. Dear Schelly I was the young woman looking for Englander and Movrin and I did as you suggested looking at the Jewish sites and I have to say I did find the surnames there but could not work out how to ascertain if we were Jewish. I know you felt we were but I now feel as though I need confirmation of this. It would have been great had you had internet access as I would have loved seeing how you would go about searching for this confirmation. If you have any further suggestions I would love to hear them. By the way, I put in Englander and Movrin and couldn't believe I was reading about myself. Thank you. Robyne Somerville