Getting up at dark o’clock (3am) is not much fun, but heading to Congress in Sydney was worth the bleary-eyed start. It’s a three hour flight “across the ditch” (aka the Tasman Sea) and after arriving just after 8am it was good to dump my suitcase at the hotel and then head to pre-register.
The Society of Australian Genealogists (SAG) had opened up their HQ for pre-registration and a ‘meet and greet’ opportunity. GeniAus (Jill Ball) was on hand to welcome everyone, especially first-time Congress attendees, and to hand out ‘First Time attendee’ ribbons. The tea and cakes were very welcome, as was the chance to meet other genealogists. As a geneablogger, I also got to pick up some blogger beads! These are a great way to recognise fellow bloggers at the conference (and a nice talking point when you don’t know many folks).
I had booked in for an afternoon tour of Hyde Park Barracks that SAG had arranged, and what an amazing place it is. Built between 1817 and 1819 by convicts, and designed by former convict turned architect Francis Greenway, it was originally designed to house labouring convicts. Transportion to New South Wales ceased in 1840, and by 1848 the building was being used to accommodate female immigrants as well as destitute women. From 1887 it was used for law courts and government offices, right up until 1979.
During the time convicts lived in the barracks, they slept in these hammocks. We were allowed to try them out – I almost fell asleep in one of them, they seemed so comfortable (or maybe I was just very very tired).
In the evening my Australian cousins took me out for dinner at Sydney’s oldest continually licensed hotel, the Lord Nelson Brewing Hotel. A fitting end to the day!