Unlock the Past Cruises



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Carol Baxter (New South Wales) an experienced and informed historian and genealogist, an internationally-acclaimed, award-winning author and an inspirational presenter.


Carol has been a genealogist for over three decades, having first become interested in family history research while still at school. Her career as a professional genealogist began when she was appointed Project Officer of the Australian Biographical and Genealogical Record (ABGR). In that role she edited six volumes of early New South Wales muster returns (similar to census returns) and later the convict indents for 1788-1812. She edited other record series when she became General Editor of the ABGR’s new incarnation, the Biographical Database of Australia. She is a Fellow of the Society of Australian Genealogists and an adjunct lecturer at the University of New England, and is now a full-time writer and speaker.

Carol began writing ‘popular history’ in 2004 and is the author of four ‘true-crime thrillers’ – as readers and reviewers describe them. Three have been published by Allen & Unwin: An Irresistible Temptation: the true story of Jane New and a Colonial Scandal (2006), Breaking the Bank: An Extraordinary Colonial Robbery (2008), and Captain Thunderbolt and his Lady: the true story of bushrangers Frederick Ward and Mary Ann Bugg (2011), while The Lucretia Borgia of Botany Bay will be published in 2015. Both Breaking the Bank and Captain Thunderbolt have received first prize in writing competitions. In 2013, Britain’s Oneworld published The Peculiar Case of the Electric Constable: a true tale of passion, poison and pursuit. It has received international acclaim withThe Times (London) writing that it is ‘as lively and readable as a crime novel’ and Britain’s Independent praising it as ‘totally irresistible’.

‘How to’ genealogy books are among Carol’s other works. Writing Interesting Family Histories was published in 2009 and updated in 2010. She will publish a companion volume, Publishing Interesting Family Histories, in 2014. She has two guidebooks being published by Unlock the Past in 2014. In 2014/15 she will also publish Help! Historical and Genealogical Truth: How to separate fact from fantasy along with books on convict research, New South Wales research, British surnames and British given names.

Carol is also the author of the History Detective newsletter, a free email newsletter with tips on history, researching, writing and publishing along with information about her forthcoming publications (including pre-publication discount offers). You can subscribe to the newsletter via her website.  Click here for more on Carol, including a list of topics she offers. See also Carol's web site.

GeorgeDr Karen George (South Australia) - professional historian and sole proprietor of Historically Speaking


Karen George grew up on a fruit block at Loxton in South Australia’s Riverland. She moved to the city to complete a BA Hons (History) at the University of Adelaide, a Masters Degree at the Australian National University and a PhD at the University of Adelaide. Since 1993, Karen has run her own business as a consultant historian/writer, Historically Speaking, specializing in oral history, writing and research. Karen’s first contract after graduation was as Oral Historian for the Adelaide City Council. Her first book, A place of their own: the men and women of War Service Land Settlement at Loxton after the Second World War was published in 1999.

Karen has conducted many interviews for the State Library of SA and the National Library of Australia. She was an interviewer for the Bringing Them Home Oral History Project and contributed to the resulting publication, Many Voices, reflections on experiences of Indigenous child separation (2002). Karen has worked with SA Link Up to produce a guide to records of children’s homes in SA, Finding your own way (2005). As a result of this work she became Research Historian for the Children in State Care Commission of Inquiry in SA. Karen is was an interviewer for the NLA’s Forgotten Australians and Former Child Migrants’ oral history project and currently works as a State-based historian with the National Find and Connect web resource project. Later this year she will appear on an episode of ‘Who do you think you are?’

Karen has recorded hundreds of interviews on a myriad of topics for different repositories, organisations and individuals. She draws on examples from these in the workshops she runs for the SA branch of the Oral History Association of Australia and other organisations.

In her minimal spare time Karen reads, runs and writes stories for her two children.

HicksShauna Hicks (Queensland) - Australia's most in demand genealogy/history presenter - and author of numerous guide books


Shauna Hicks has been tracing her own family history since 1977 and worked in government for over 35 years in libraries and archives in Brisbane, Canberra and Melbourne. Since retiring, she has written a number of family history guides and is a regular speaker at genealogy cruises, conferences and  seminars. She now operates a small part time research and consultancy business Shauna Hicks History Enterprises at www.shaunahicks.com.auand is the author of the blog, Diary of an Australian Genealogist.

Shauna has a number of tertiary qualifications from Queensland universities including a Master of Arts in Australian Studies, a Graduate Diploma in Library Science and a Diploma in Family Historical Studies from the Society of Australian Genealogists. She is a Fellow of the Queensland Family History Society; a recipient of the Australian Society of Archivists Distinguished Achievement Award and the Australasian Federation of Family History Organisations’ Services to Family History Award.

She is the author of a number of research publications published by Unlock the Past, including:

  • Family and local history resource directory for Victoria
  • Family history on the cheap
  • Finding ancestors in church records: a brief guide to resources
  • My ancestor was in an asylum: a brief guide to asylum records in Australia and New Zealand
  • It’s not all online: a guide to genealogy sources offline
  • What was the voyage really like?: a brief guide to researching convict and immigrant voyages to Australia and New Zealand
  • Our family history archives: a brief introduction
  • Tracing mining ancestors: a brief guide to resources in Australia and New Zealand
  • Trove: discover genealogy treasure in the National Library of Australia
  • numerous articles for journals and the History and Genealogy 2011: Australia and New Zealand