Meeting archive


Ballarat & District Genealogical Society
PO Box 1809 Bakery Hill Mail Centre Vic 3354 Australia

4th Tuesday of each month (except Dec & Jan) 7:30 pm, Meeting Room, Ballarat Central Library 178 Doveton Street North, Ballarat

An engaging program of subjects of interest to the genealogist is being arranged. Come along to the meetings and listen to those many and varied guest speakers, ask questions, and find some answers to those hard to solve problems.

Tuesday 26th February - Paul Jenkins MLA for Ballarat West (1992-1999) - Jenkins families are inextricably woven into the history of Sebastopol. Come along and hear interesting stories of this suburb of Ballarat famed for deep lead gold mining.

Tuesday 26th March - Who Do You Think You Are? with BDGS researcher Helen Mollison
BBC crew filmed in Ballarat in March 2017 for a program about the ancestors of Craig Revel Horwood, a Ballarat boy, now a British TV celebrity. This episode was screened in Australia on Saturday 9th February 2019 so we are now able to show you the Ballarat section. Hear from Helen how the genealogical research was done and presented.

Tuesday 23rd April - Barbara Harris, BDGS Vice President speaking on the duties of a country cemetery secretary.

Tuesday 28th May - Carol Armstrong -Stalag XV111 A An insight into a POW's life 1941-1945.

Tuesday 25th June - Richard Gilbert has been involved with the Ballarat Tramways Museum for the past 47 years.

Tuesday 23rd July

Tuesday 27th August - AGM Anne Beggs-Sunter

Tuesday 24th September - Susie Zada - DNA: in Focus - and in English

Tuesday 22nd October - Robert Hamilton - Freemasons in Ballarat

Tuesday 26th November - Demonstration of the expectations of the re-build of the Society's website by Jenny Burrell. Christmas Quiz and Breakup. 

Please note that the Library Meeting Room at the Ballarat Library is no longer available due to building works. In 2020 meetings of the Ballarat and District Genealogical Society will be held on the 4th Tuesday of each month (except Dec & Jan) at 7:30 pm at the Ballarat North Community Centre, 702 Walker Street, North Ballarat, 3350. This can be reached by traveling north on Doveton Street. The Centre has been refurbished and has plenty of easy parking. Please join us in February when we talk about record-keeping for family historians. Jenny Burrell and Betty Slater will lead the discussions and show examples of various ways of recording and storing documents and photos.


Tuesday 27 February - Fiona Tonkin tells us about Ballarat Streets named after women

Saturday 24 March - all day SEMINAR for members learning more about using Trove and Digger BDM Indexes for Victoria.
Begin 9.30am until 4.00pm. Bring your own device such as laptop, iPad or smartphone OR we will provide you with one on request. Swap morning and afternoon sessions for both topics. At $10.00 for the day this is a low-cost event run by members for members to improve their electronic research skills.

Tuesday 27 March - Who Do You Think You Are?
BBC crew filmed in Ballarat in March 2017 for a program about the ancestors of Craig Revel Horwood, a Ballarat boy, now a British TV celebrity. Helen Mollison and Joan Hunt tell of their experiences on and off camera which contributed to the making of the episode. It is yet to be screened in Australia.

Tuesday 24 April - Judy Rochow, committee member, and Defence Dept employee, is researching Colonial Military Volunteers and their leaders.
Come along to learn about these early soldiers.

Tuesday 22 May - Virginia Noonan author of the recently published book, From Devon to Australia, A 19th Century Narrative, Through the unpublished letters of the Merrifield family.

Tuesday 26 June - Ben Schueddekopf, our tech guru, will tell us of his quest to find his German roots. On his travels, to quintessential medieval villages, he met iconic characters such as Lüllepop - a most engaging ancestor.

Tuesday 24 July - Dr Joan Hunt has extensive experience with searching Victorian Land Records which she will share with you. Please come prepared with your questions.

Tuesday 28 August - AGM - Jenny Fink, Executive Manager Learning and Community Hubs at City of Ballarat speaking about the proposed move of the Australiana Reference Room library to a refurbished Eureka Centre in 2019.

Tuesday 25 September - Ken James, co-author with Pam Bargwanath of an award-winning book about mechanics institutes, 'These Walls Speak Volumes.' The topic will be William Swan Urquhart, First Government Surveyor in Ballarat.

Tuesday 23 October - Mick Trembath - Memory Atlas

The Memory Atlas is a project that links memory to place. The project is about the need to preserve the present, so future generations can see the complexity of history in its most honest and human terms. It's the creation on an online platform, that allows anybody to record, locate and add to the stories of their lives. Training and workshops are on offer to use digital technology to record narratives, using video, audio, photo digitisation etc.

Saturday 27 October - BDGS 40th Anniversary Luncheon Ballarat Golf Club, 12.00 noon for 12.30 pm. Guest speaker Professor Graeme Davison 2015 VCHA winner for Lost Relations: Fortunes of My Family in Australia’s Golden Age

Tuesday 27 November - Christmas Breakup and supper, including tributes to the late Joan Hunt, our much respected former President and Life Member. Please come along and share with us any anecdotes about her life and work.


28 February 2017
Guest Speaker Carmel Reynen on the topic of Deciphering Convict Records. Much shorthand was used. Learn what the abbreviations mean.

28 March 2017
Program - hold the usual Ordinary Meeting followed by socialising over a cuppa, especially to welcome new members in attendance. Showing of old photos and other items brought for preservation advice. Informal session offering help to individuals with 'brick walls' encountered in their family history research.

25 April 2017
ANZAC Day public holiday - no meeting

23 May 2017
Apologies from the scheduled filmmakers. (Baby came early.) Improvisation from our stalwart secretary. Thank you Carol.

27-28 May 2017 Ballarat Heritage Weekend - in the Australiana Reference Room
During the usual library hours, volunteers will be available for help and guidance with family history. Please bring information and documents, such as BDM certificates. We will offer advice on all manner of problems from the simple to the more challenging. No cost.
Saturday 27th May - 9.30am - 4.00pm
Sunday 28th May - 1.15pm - 4.00pm
Reserve a time - email

Saturday 27 May 2017
Seminar in the library meeting room: Tracing Your European Ancestors - Visiting speakers from the International Settlers Group of the Genealogical Society of Victoria. This is a chance to find out from experts how to trace ancestors from foreign lands. More info and booking form

Sunday 28 May 2017
Guided Tour of Ballarat Old Cemetery 1.00 - 2.00 pm. Meet at the entrance gates in Macarthur Street. Gold coin donation on the day would be appreciated. Please make a booking so we will have guides for groups of a manageable size. Please send name and numbers to

27 June 2017
Members to give brief talks about an interesting ancestor they have found.

25 July 2017
Peter Vernon, architect. His father, John Vernon, joined the practice in 1958 and has worked in Ballarat for over fifty years. He is custodian of one of the most significant private collections of architectural drawings in Australia, The Vernon Collection, which includes many of Ballarat’s historic buildings dating back to the gold rush."

22 August 2017
AGM - Dr. Val Noone - The Bitter Year of 1917

26 September 2017
Mr. Eric Archer, Conservator, ex-NLA Canberra is to give advice on conserving your precious documents and photos. Please bring items for the round table format.

24 October 2017
Author Kate Elliott has written these books: The History of Ballarat Regatta Australia's Inland Henley 1862-2002 (2002) and The Boys from the Rush Beds: The History of the Ballarat City Rowing Club 1870-2004 – Incorporating the Early Development of Lake Wendouree 1860-1870, Kathryn M Elliott, 2004. She also has a wider interest in the people who contributed to the building of Ballarat.

Tuesday 28 November 2017 - PLEASE NOTE CHANGE OF VENUE to the Regional Education Office, 109 Armstrong St Nth. This is just at the back of the library over Market St. There will be a sign on the library meeting room door directing people to the alternative place. The change is necessary due to soggy carpet in the recent flooding of the library meeting room.

Philippa OHalloran from PROV will attend to answer members' questions about plans to relocate the Ballarat Archives Centre away from its present location in the 'Glasshouse' the Government Offices, cnr Doveton St Nth and Mair Sts. This is a followup to a PROV survey which many members were good enough to fill out and return. Please come along to have your say. After the meeting, we will have our usual end-of-year Quiz Night, Christmas Breakup and Yuletide Supper.


23 February 2016
Guest Speaker Carmel Reynen on the topic of Trove (digitised newspapers online) - how it can be useful for family historians

This help session will need to be re-scheduled because Trove is closing down on the 22 Feb and reopening on the 25th with a whole new update and format.

In place for the 23rd of Feb will be a similar session with online newspapers other than Trove. For example NZ Papers Past. Search skills are generic and will be useful for when Trove is back up again.

22 March 2016
Neil Huybregts at short notice will speak on the topic of Finding Dr Otway. Neil explains: Otway was the first to use steam power to crush quartz for gold in Ballarat. An American, he crossed the Rocky Mountains on foot in 1849 along with 29,000 others on their way to the California gold rush, then came to Ballarat in 1853 before heading off to Steiglitz, Tasmania, New South Wales, St Arnaud, Blackwood and places unknown.
See Neil's wiki page about Dr Otway
The talk will focus on the research adventure, including things as simple as using Google to find variations on last names.

26 April 2016
Meeting at Old Colonists' Club, 20 Lydiard St Nth with historian Gerald Jenzen. Meet at 7.30pm. (Quite steep stairs. No disabled access.)

24 May 2016
Guest Speaker Neil Leckie, Ballarat Ranger Military Museum manager, and historian.

28 June 2016
Dr Fadi Charchar, Assoc Dean (Research) Faculty of Health, Federation University, Australia, returns to speak to us again about DNA and Genealogy. Those who attended his first presentation will know that this is not to be missed.

26 July 2016
Guest Speaker Yvonne Horsfield will be telling us about her fascinating Chinese ancestry. In particular, we will hear about John Tong Way (Lau Tong Way), missionary, and his wife Mary, née Kong, after whom Tong Way Place on Golden Point is named. Here is the Australian Dictionary of Biography entry for his son Samuel John Tong-Way (1894–1988)

22 August 2016
AGM - Joan Hunt to chair the installation of officer bearers. The topic for the evening will relate to Joan's 2015 doctoral thesis. Mining Communities on the Springdallah goldfield in the 1860s – an exploration of nine communities of Springdallah between Linton and Cape Clear, whose families came from all parts of the United Kingdom, Europe, and America. These people arrived often with extended networks across generations and used the mining and land legislation of Victoria to create stable domestic lives based on the deep lead alluvial gold mining industry of the 19th century.

27 September 2016
Members Show and Tell - please contact Secretary Carol with your topic to share. There will also be a segment on how to use the Ballarat Cemeteries CD produced in 2006 in conjunction with the Genealogical Society of Victoria. There are several sections to explore: Registers for the Ballarat Old Cemetery and the Ballarat New Cemetery (combined and separate) as well as the Crematorium, Transcriptions of Memorials, and the Register to 2005 Graves, which shows the occupants of each grave. Happy to provide tutoring for people wanting to use these records.

25 October 2016
Member, Max Duthie, will share his experiences in the writing of family history stories. He has completed online units from the University of Tasmania.

22 November 2016
Quiz Night, Christmas Breakup, Yuletide Supper


25 February 2015
Guest Speaker Carmel Reynen on the topic of Family Tree Maker - how it can help family historians

24 March 2015
Guest Speaker Jenny O'Donnell on her book about the history of the Bishop's Palace

28 April 2015
Guest Speaker President Graeme Reynolds on English Wills 26 May 2015
Guest Speaker Ben Schueddekopf on his recent visit to World War 1 commemorative site Villers Bretonneaux 23 June 2015
Guest Speaker Brett Weinberg, hospital volunteer transcribing Ballarat Benevolent Home - inmates registers. 28 July 2015
Guest Speaker Dr Anne Beggs Sunter - Gold Mining in Ballarat and the impact of WWI 25 August 2015
AGM - Guest Speaker The Reverend Professor Emeritus Dr. Robert W Gribben, President of the Cornish Association of Victoria and an authority on the Methodist Church worldwide. He will inform us about the several forms of Methodism practised on the Ballarat goldfields. 22 September 2015
Guest Speaker Charles Zhang President of the Ballarat Chinese Association. With his son, Charles followed in his ancestor's footsteps on the journey from Robe, SA, to the Victorian goldfields. 27 October 2015
Guest Speaker Jennifer Burrell, former Honorary Research Coordinator, on using Digger Births, Deaths, and Marriages indexes for family history research. 24 November 2015
Christmas Breakup and Quiz Night. Yuletide Supper.

The aim of the society is to help people discover their family history. To have appropriate records available, with guidance in ways to research and record their history and genealogy.

The Ballarat and District Genealogical Society Inc Incorporation Number A0022692F ABN 40 041 783 778