War Bride

My latest family history project is trying to connect with the story of my cousin, Lyla Brown/Curtis, who married an American soldier in the 1940s, and who went to live in the US. I remember briefly speaking on the phone with her after she arrived back from living in the United States. Presumably long dead... Continue Reading →

South Lismore

As a child growing up in South Lismore, one of my strongest earliest memories was of the arrival at the nearby railway station of hundreds of people for the Aquarius Festival. Though it’s often described as Australia’s answer to Woodstock, I don’t think there was such a high musical component to it. But as a... Continue Reading →

The Old Appin Inn

If you have an eye for history or architecture or hotels, and you've visited the town of Appin (near Campbelltown in Western Sydney), you will have probably noticed an old derelict building not far from the church. Though in a poor state of repair, the old Appin Inn is a lovely building which I had... Continue Reading →

James Patrick Terence O’Brien

At this stage, I don't know for sure if I'm related to James Patrick Terence O'Brien of Lismore, NSW but his story fascinates me, nonetheless. It's a story I discovered quite accidentally, searching for family history connections using the Trove newspaper database. The many newspaper reports clearly indicate James had a really, really serious long-term... Continue Reading →

On the weekend I finally got around to watching the brilliant television program "Friends Of Dorothy" by William Yang. William is a really important Australian photographer whose work documents, in particular, Sydney's gay and lesbian scene in the last forty years. I have met William on a few occasions and have concluded he's a very... Continue Reading →

Now Hear This

I didn't expect to, but ended up telling a story at the "Now Hear This" story-telling night in Sydney tonight. I told the story of my great-great grandmother who had a relationship with her first cousin (no, I don't have two heads). After the birth of their fourth child together, he married someone else and... Continue Reading →

Searching for Ellen

In stark contrast to some of the impressive mausolea at Liverpool Cemetery (in Sydney's west), my great-great grandmother, Ellen Lang is buried there in an unmarked "pauper's grave" (as they were called then). She died 15 years before I was even born, so I don't know very much about her. I don't even have a... Continue Reading →

Family History

I was looking tonight at a photograph of me and my dad. By the look of things I'm less than twelve months old, so it was probably taken sometimes towards the end of 1966. Dad's wearing a cardigan, so it was probably the winter of that year. As I looked at the photograph, I suddenly... Continue Reading →

Cousin Kerry

"Who would imagine you'd get so emotional about someone from 160 years ago?" Kerry O'Brien observed on tonight's edition of "Who Do You Think You Are?" on SBS TV. The ABC-TV presenter was a little bit teary when reflecting on the plight of his ancestors. I completely understand what he was talking about, as I've... Continue Reading →

Appin Bi-Centenary

“I have a connection to the pub across the road” I told the woman who was looking after things at St Bede's Catholic Church in Appin today. “Two of my ancestors ran the pub back in the 1840s”, I told her, referring to William Rixon and Ann Hoare. “There was a close connection between the... Continue Reading →

Common Ancestry

If you look closely at the faces of the people in this photograph, there's bound to be someone who looks a bit like me. All of these people and I have the same ancestry: a couple called John and Elizabeth Love who came to Australia in 1792. John Love, his wife Martha, and his daughter... Continue Reading →

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