Unlock The Past will be at

Unlock the Past Cruises

Exploring family & local history - Brisbane 2018

Event Information

  • 19 Oct 2018 9:00am - 20 Oct 2018 5:00pm
  • Queensland Baptist Centre, 53 Prospect Road
  • Gaythorne
  • Queensland
Other Information
  • Cost: PRE-BOOKED $87 for both days, $57 for one day - ON THE DAY $90 for both days, $60 for one day


Assisted immigration - German - English - Scottish - Irish - beyond just indexes
World War I - Freemason ancestors - medical - historic photos online
Combining family and local history


A two-day Exploring family & local history seminar with

  • Brisbane seminarLouise Coakley (Qld)
  • John Donaldson (Vic)
  • Doug Elms (Vic)
  • Kerry Farmer (NSW)
  • John Graham (Qld)
  • Rob Hamilton (Vic)
  • Eric Kopittke (Qld) 
  • Rosemary Kopittke (Qld)
  • Richard Reid (ACT)
  • Helen Smith (Qld)
CLICK HERE or the graphic at the right to download a brochure and program

6 top reasons to be there

  1. LEARN - over two days to learn from leading Australian genealogists/historians
  2. A WIDE VARIETY OF TOPICS - something for everyone
  3. DNA - find out why the interest in this emerging technology, what it can do for you - and what it can't
         - Family Tree Maker
         - DNA
  5. NETWORK - two days to interact with exhibitors and others with similar interests
  6. SAVE - with seminar specials and hundreds of $$$ worth of prizes

When and where

WHEN: Friday - Saturday 19-20 October 2018

WHERE: QB Centre, 53 Prospect Road, Gaythorne QLD 4051




PRE-BOOKED (by Mon 15 Oct 2018 ***) $87 for both days, $57 for one day
(pre-book to be in the prize draw for several hundred $$$ in prizes)
*** pre-booking extended to Tue 16 Oct 6pm

ON THE DAY $90 for both days, $60 for one day

CLICK HERE or the icon below to go to the booking page


Provisional program - subject to change

 large auditoriumsmall auditorium
FRIDAY 19 October 2018 
9.00am registration and exhibition
9.25amwelcome and seminar introduction  
9.30am'If girls want to get on I say come to Queensland’ – Assisted Emigration from Great Britain to Australia, 1830 to 1914 
- R. Reid
10.20amUnlock the Past: what's coming up in 2019 and beyond - A. Phillips 
10.30ambreak and exhibition 
11.00amDNA: beyond the test - L. Coakley 
11.50pmOnline Scottish records you may not know
- K. Farmer
‘If only I could see your grave’ – Remembering Australians on the Western Front, 1918-1939 - R. Reid
12.40pmlunch break and exhibition 
2.00pmFlip-Pal mobile scanner - R. KopittkeFamily Tree Maker workshop - 80 mins
Input into FTM (a range of topics)
 - John Donaldson and Doug Elms (VicGUM)
2.20pm11 reasons to join a society - QFHS intro
2.40pmResearching your Freemason ancestor
- R. Hamilton
3.30pmbreak and exhibition 

‘Come dance with me in Ireland’ – touring Ireland, finding Australia. - R. Reid

Family Tree Maker workshop - 50 mins
Output from FTM (a range of topics)
 - John Donaldson and Doug Elms (VicGUM)
SATURDAY 20 October 2018 
9.00am  registration and exhibition
9.25amwelcome and seminar introduction  

Documents of English illegitimacy - H. Smith

DNA program part 1 - 100 mins
 - Tips and tricks for working with DNA
- K. Farmer 
 - Unmasking mystery matches - L. Coakley
 - Ethics of genetic genealogy - H. Smith

 - Questions (10mins)
10.20amResearching in German church and civil records - E. Kopittke 
11.10ambreak and exhibition 
11.40am    Beyond just indexes: why we should check source records - R. Kopittke

DNA program part 2 - 80 mins
 - Getting the most out of your MyHeritage
   DNA matches - H. Smith

 - Using DNA to find unknown biological
   ancestors - K. Farmer
 - Questions (10mins)

12.30pmWhy use a computer program for genealogy? - D. Elms
12.50pmprize draw
1.00pmlunch break and exhibition 

Delving into the English parish chest
- K. Farmer
Combining Family and Local History
- J. Graham
2.50pmSpanish flu in Australia in 1919 with a Queensland focus - H. Smith  
3.40pmbreak and exhibition 
4.00pmFinding historical photos online - K. Farmer 

SPECIAL OPENING - Queensland Baptist Archives

The Queensland Baptist Archives is located adjacent to the seminar rooms. They will be open for our group on both days:
  • Friday 19 Oct  - 10.30am to 2pm
  • Satuday 20 Oct - 11am to 2pm 

Presenters - further details to come

Louise Coakley click here biography. Website: DNA & Genealogy

John Donaldson - biography to come

Family Tree Maker workshop

Doug Elms - biography to come

Family Tree Maker workshop

Why use a compter program for genealogy?

KerryKerry Farmer (NSW) - click here for full biography

Kerry is the Director Australian Studies, developing the Australian Records certificate for the internationally recognised National Institute for Genealogical Studies. Kerry is the author of DNA for genealogists and Arrivals in Australia from 1788. Together with Rosemary Kopittke, Kerry also wrote Which genealogy program? and a number of handy guides - all published by Unlock the Past.
     Kerry has served on the Education Committee of the Society of Australian Genealogists, and presents seminars and classes there as well as at other conferences and forums and undertakes commissioned family history research assignments for others.
     Kerry has researched her own family history for over 30 years, researching ancestors predominantly from Australia, New Zealand, England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales. She has also tackled the family branches in Canada, United States, South Africa, India, Germany, Poland, Norway and Russia. Kerry graduated with a Bachelor of Science (Computer Science and Pure Mathematics), and also with a Bachelor of Arts (Literature).
     Kerry is a frequent speaker for Unlock the Past (genealogy cruises and land events) and many other events.

John Graham - biography to come

Combining Family and Local History


HamiltonRob Hamilton (VIC) - Rob is an inspirational speaker specialising in all things Masonic. Born into a family steeped in Freemasonry dating back to his great

grandfather and the Island of St Helena. Rob first joined the order of Antient Free and Accepted Masons of Victoria 48 years ago, and during that time he has occupied every position in what is affectionally known as the “lodge” at a local level, he currently holds the Masonic rank of Past Grand Standard Bearer. An 18th degree Freemason, Knight Templar and numerous other side orders associated with masonry He is a member of several Masonic study circles and The Victorian Lodge of Research, from which he holds a certificate of Masonic studies. He is also a freemason in the English Constitution.
     Rob has written numerous papers on various Masonic and related topics including, The Knights Templar, The Schaw Statutes of 1598 (and its influence on the current fundamentals of industrial workplace conditions), Symbolism in freemasonry, and Freemasonry is it a religion? He speaks on Masonic topics such as, The spread of freemasonry through the British empires conquests into America, and the Indian Sub-Continent. The arrival of freemasonry in the colonies of New South Wales and Van Diemen’s Land in the 1780s. Masonic symbols and monuments found in cemeteries. Interpreting Masonic photographs. What Masonic records can tell us, and where they may be found? Interpreting the Masonic language found in Trove, what were the various constitutions that were operating in early Australia? Rob delivers Masonic knowledge from his 48 years of research into Freemasonry and family history. He has amassed an extensive private library of books and documents, some dating from the mid 1700s, research papers and modern electronic sources.

Researching Freemason ancestors


Eric KopittkeEric Kopittke (QLD) - click here for full biography. Eric's blog

Eric is a former teacher of Physics and Mathematics, having taught at St Peters Lutheran College, Indooroopilly from 1973 to 2014.
     He has been researching his families from Australia, England, Germany and former German areas for over 30 years.
     He and his wife Rosemary transcribed, indexed and published the lists of direct emigrants from the port of Hamburg for Australian and New Zealand ports from the years 1850–1879. The publishing of these lists has helped many researchers find how their ancestors reached Australia and New Zealand from Germany.
     As well as being a presenter on several Unlock the Past cruises, expos and events, Eric has presented talks on many aspects of German family history at family history groups. He convenes the Queensland Family History Society's Central European Interest Group and often presents there. He has presented at two Australasian Congresses and at the Queensland State conference in 2017.
     In addition to the Emigrants from Hamburg to Australasia series, he has written: Locating your German ancestor's place of originResearching in German civil and church recordsIntroduction to German family history research for Australians and a Handy guide to civil registration – births, marriages and deaths in Germany (published through Unlock the Past and available through Gould Genealogy & History).
     Eric has received the Queensland FHS Award for Services to Family History (1990); was made a Fellow of the Queensland FHS (2000); and in 2006 was awarded the AFFHO Award for Meritorious Services to Family History.

Researching in German church and civil records - Obtaining a birth or marriage certificate from Germany for an immigrant ancestor is a goal that many researchers set for themselves. Civil registration of births, marriages and deaths was introduced at different times between 1792 and 1876 in the German States. Before civil registration, church records of baptism, marriage and burial were used instead. This presentation looks at using German civil and church records for research.

Rosemary Kopittke


Rosemary Kopittke (QLD) - click here for full biography - www.rosemarykopittke.com
Rosemary has been tracing her family history since 1985 – in Australia, England, Scotland and Ireland. A statistician by training, she has worked in that field as an hydrologist, teacher, and biometrician. Her tertiary qualifications include a BSc (Mathematics) and BA (Computer Science) both from the University of Queensland and the Diploma of Family History from the University of Tasmania. She currently works as a consultant for Gould Genealogy & History and is regularly invited to speak at family history events.
     She has published numerous indexes to cemeteries and government records though is probably best known for her work with husband Eric on the Emigrants from Hamburg to Australasia 1850–1879 publication. She is editor of Unlock the Past publications and author and contributor to several.
     She served as the Queensland member of the Australasian Federation of Family History Organisations Council (2009 to 2013) and on the Queensland FHS Management Committee for 21 years. Rosemary is a Fellow of the Queensland Family History Society and in 2006 received the AFFHO Award for Meritorious Services to Family History.

Online newspapers: what happened in the ‘dash’ - On headstones we often see just the name of the person followed by the birth and death years – with a “dash” between the years. There are many sources which can gives us information about births, deaths and marriages but newspapers can tell us so much more about what happened during a person’s life – the “dash” on a headstone.


ReidRichard Reid (Australian Capital Territory)
Richard Reid is an Irish ‘assisted immigrant’ who arrived in Sydney, NSW, in January 1972. A graduate of Trinity College, Dublin and Queens University, Belfast, he taught at a state high school in Wollongong for 11 years before becoming the Secondary Education Officer at the Australian War Memorial. While at the Memorial he received his Ph.D. from the Australian National University for his work on Irish assisted emigration to New South Wales, 1848-1870, published in 2011 as Farewell My Children – Irish Assisted Emigration to Australia, 1848-1870. He has worked on many other Irish-Australian projects such as events for the Australian Bicentenary (1988) celebrations in Ireland, and was the Senior Curator for the National Museum of Australia’s major Irish exhibition, ‘Not Just Ned – a true history of the Irish in Australia’, in 2011. Richard also co-led the Society of Australian Genealogists first official tour of Ireland (with Keith Johnson) in 1984, and with Perry McIntyre has led a number of other SAG tours to Ireland. Among his publications on Irish-Australia are a decent set of girls – the Irish Famine Orphans of the Thomas Arbuthnot, 1849-1850  (with Cheryl Mongan) and Sinners, Saints and Settlers – a Journey through Irish-Australia (with Brendon Kelson, photographer).

Since his appointment to the Australian War Memorial, Richard has had a close involvement with interpreting the experiences of Australians in war, especially in World War I. In 1993, he was the AWM’s Executive Officer for the project that returned the remains of an Unknown Australian Soldier to the Hall of Memory at the Memorial. He has led Australian groups to Gallipoli and the Western Front (France and Belgium) and was the Australian historian on the official tri-nation (Turkey, Australia and New Zealand) historical and archaeological survey of the Anzac battlefield. Since 1997 (with a break between November 2007 and July 2011 at the National Museum of Australia), Richard worked as the Senior Historian for the Commemoration’s Branch of the Department of Veterans’ Affairs where he authored a number of books and websites including anzacsite.gov.au (Gallipoli), ww1westernfront.gov.au (Australians on the Western Front, 1916-1918) and Gallipoli 1915 (ABC Books). Richard retired officially from DVA in November 2014, but continued working on the Gallipoli battlefield survey (published in 2016 by Cambridge University Press as Anzac battlefield : a Gallipoli landscape of war and memory) as well as Irish projects relating to the emigration of orphan girls from Irish workhouses during the Great Famine (1845-1850) and the transportation of convicts from Ireland itself to the Australian colonies between 1788 and 1868.

Richard was a lead presenter on our 2nd and 7th cruises - and will be on our upcoming 15th cruise to Singapore.

Helen Nov 2015 120Helen Smith (Queensland) – Dragon Genealogy   
Helen has been researching her family since 1986 when her mother lamented the fact she had never known her grandfather, George Howard Busby. Helen found some information and a newspaper photo of him, was hooked and has been addicted ever since with research in Australia, England and Ireland.

She is researching the surname Quested anywhere, anytime and has registered the name with the Guild of One-Name Studies.

She is the author of Death certificates and archaic medical terms and has written for Inside HistoryAustralian Family Tree Connections and other family history journals as well as scientific publications. She is the author of a number of blogs which can be accessed via http://helenvsmithresearch.blogspot.com.au and you can follow her on Twitter @HVSresearch

She has spoken to a wide variety of audiences including Genealogical Society of Queensland Day Conferences, Library Technician Conference, all the Unlock the Past cruises, Unlock the Past Expos and Roadshow and numerous family history society meetings.

Professionally, she is a Molecular Epidemiologist specialising in Public Health Microbiology and has a strong interest in infectious diseases and Public Health through the ages.

She has a Graduate Diploma in Public Health, Bachelor Applied Science: Medical Laboratory Science and Associate Diploma in Clinical Laboratory Techniques. She is currently studying with the National Institute for Genealogical Studies towards the Certificate in Genealogical Studies: English Records.


Other information 

Exhibition - an exhibition with information and sales tables will be open in all breaks and before the first presentations each day

Food - this is not included in the seminar cost. Please bring your own - or drive to one of several nearby cafes

Parking - parking is available on site - or (if full) in a public car park 200m away

Sponsors and exhibitors 

  • QFHS
  • Queensland Baptist Archives
  • Rob Hamilton (Freemason research)
  • Ryerson Index
  • VicGUM
  • Waves in Time (2019 Qld State conference)

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