Unlock the Past Cruise March 2011 - Day Two
Today was our first sunny day and the heat was surprisingly intense. The deck was full of cancer-loving sunbathers and others jumping in and out of the pools. The sea was much calmer, something my stomach appreciated greatly.
The buffet has an interesting layout in all meals. Breakfast is no different. You pick up a plate and knife and fork, before venturing onto the cold cheese and meats, etc. Fruit, cereal and yoghurt come next, and you have to hunt for a spoon at this point or you may miss it. Pastries and sweet things come next (chocolate muffin for breakfast???), before heading to the hot section where you can pick up a variety of greasy delights. ‘Onion potato’ was one such ‘delight’ this morning (someone must eat it, though it‘s not me).
The first talk began at 8am, with Ron Austin speaking on ‘Using unit histories to ‘unlock the past’’. As not all units wrote their histories, Ron has written more than anyone in Australia. They provide what he calls a ‘vertical slice’ of information during the war - it is the war as it affects that particular unit. Ron is clearly a man with a passion for the topic and for people to understand how valuable these histories can be. A speaker who seems would be more comfortable and relaxed with smaller, more intimate discussion groups, Ron’s presentation used PowerPoint appropriately with large lettering and helping the audience know exactly what he’s referring to. A picture or two would have given an extra dimension, but then I’m not sure what pictures could have been used. It was a difficult topic as many aspects of the military structure had to be defined first before Ron could speak about them. He graciously did this so people such as myself with no understanding about such things could understand. Another unusual and interesting aspect of Ron’s talk was that he encouraged audience participation, including questions and ideas. This seemed to be appreciated by most.
Cora spoke next on ‘Beginning your family history’. It was an open talk to any on the cruise and advertised in the Cruise Daily. Probably about 5 people came not with our group - a small number but hopefully they were inspired and found the answers they’re looking for. The 9am time slot may have put others off from attending. Cora’s talk was certainly straight-forward and simple enough. She showed tools used in research, such as charts, BDMs, programs, and on-line databases (scarily enough I pegged what she was going to cover - working for Unlock the Past has unintentionally caused me to learn something!). It was a very practical talk, with hints and tips, as well as money-saving ideas. Though she was reading the paper, eventually she relaxed and what a difference it made! Fluent, easy to follow, she used stories, cartoons and quips to become a very engaging speaker. This talk was, as expected, very basic, but presented in such a way that experienced people would have been happy to sit and listen. Her enthusiasm was even inspiring to someone such as myself, a history buff.
After discovering the lunch menu in the restaurant (and deciding there weren’t enough lunches while on the cruise due to the wonderful selection they have), I hurried along to Shauna Hicks’ talk, ‘Google Your Family Tree’ (originally presented by Dan Lynch - watch out for him on the November Cruise later this year!). Unfortunately the screen in the room is permanently blurred so we couldn’t see some of the intricacies of her screen shots of google. The talk itself, however, was packed full on information, which Shauna will (thankfully!) put on her website, Shauna Hicks History Enterprises. Being one of the ’younger’ generation (at all of 26 yrs) I am quite familiar with the internet and google, however there were things mentioned I had never heard of!
Straight after the talk we rushed around to get ready to disembark at Noumea. A short bus tour revealed run-down buildings yet cars no more than 20 years old (very strange!). It was an expensive island (to visit and live in) with interesting landscape. Apart from Tasmania I've never been to another country so this was a real experience for me, seeing and hearing different languages. We were back on board in time for tea, which was followed by a dancing show put on by the Islanders, then the circus in quick succession. The latter was particularly spectacular. Tonight we set sail at 11pm, where I will be sitting on my balcony watching events with interest.