A Trip To Canberra And The National Library of Australia

I recently took a trip to Canberra with my Mum. Mum was attending a bobbin lace making conference in Queanbeyan, New South Wales and asked me if I’d like to go with her and do my genealogy research while she was at her conference.

Hay, New South Wales

We took two days to drive from Adelaide, South Australia. The first leg of the trip was from Adelaide to Hay, New South Wales where we stayed overnight and then Hay to Queanbeyan, New South Wales. Queanbeyan is only about 20 minutes from the centre of Canberra which is in the Australian Capital Territory. Canberra basically has its own state which is surrounded by the state of New South Wales.

The view from the National Library of Australia, Canberra, Australian Capital Territory

I did a lot of preparation for this trip so I had already pre-ordered the records I needed to see from the National Library as well as the Butlin Archives at the Australian National University. I won’t go into what I was researching and the results of my research in this post, I’ll do another one for that.

Whilst at the National Library one of the staff, a fellow Whovian, spotted my TARDIS tattoo on my left forearm and commented that there was a great TARDIS to see and photograph not far from Canberra in a cute little town called Hall. He gave me the address and I decided to go there on my ‘day off’ from research. I also got an I Love Trove badge which I have wanted for ages!

Me and the TARDIS in Hall, New South Wales

On the way back to Queanbeyan I found the National Dinosaur Museum and called in for a visit. As well as all the large dinosaurs the museum also has extensive fossil displays including real fossils as well as plaster cast replicas.

The big one in the middle is Mixopterus kiaeri

In the special collections reading room at the National Library I saw this incredible fabric wall hanging and it made me think of ways I can celebrate and commemorate my ancestors through my own fabric art.

On the way home we took the same route only in reverse. Some of Mum’s fellow bobbin lace makers were also driving back to Adelaide and staying overnight in Hay so we had dinner with them at one of the local hotels. Altogether it was a really lovely trip!

Concert In A Cave At Tobruk

In October 1941, during the siege of Tobruk by German and Italian forces, the ABC Field Unit, led by war correspondent Chester Wilmot, recorded a unique concert held in an ammunition cave. This concert featured 400 Australian soldiers, who were known as the “Rats of Tobruk.” Wilmot, who was pioneering the use of recording equipment in the field, captured the event on lacquer discs, providing a vivid auditory experience of the scene. You can listen to part of the concert here.

The concert showcased various musical performances, including a short song called “Bless Them All” and an instrumental piece featuring saxophone and piano accordion. The acoustics within the cave were surprisingly good, enhancing the quality of the recording. The highlight of the concert was a stirring rendition of “The Legion of the Lost,” performed by a soldier and backed by a makeshift military choir. The massed voices brought the song to an energetic and uplifting conclusion, capturing the spirit of camaraderie and resilience among the Australian soldiers during a time of intense conflict.

I have written previously about my great uncle Oscar Geoffrey Buring whose war diary I have. Uncle Geoff wasn’t in Tobruk at the time of this concert he was away doing training in Palestine. Here is an excerpt from his diary explaining where he was going:

Conference 0930. My movement order to No3 Course Platoon Weapons Wing, AIF
(ME0 Small Arms School, Reinforcements Depot Palestine one 23 rd Sept. Warning
order to Coy re movement to perimeter again on 21/22 Sep. Changing with 2/32 on
Derna Road Sector I think. Slept during pm Boys went swimming. Had “dinner at
Coy HQ” Seemed funny to be only original A Coy Offr left. Ferrier seems a decent
sort of bloke and 100% on Reid. Packing gear after tea. Dick got some good powder
bowl souvenirs today from a bloke at MDS. Made out of 75mm shell cases Back to
Coy HQ for supper. Willie has opened his heart.

I don’t know how many of the 2/43rd went to do the training and how many were at the concert. Does anyone else know this? If you do please let us know in the comments.

Merry Month of May Meme

Merry Month of May Meme

Pauleen from Family History Across The Seas has proposed this meme which follows on from previous years.

Has your day-to-day life returned to how it/you functioned previously?

I am still mostly staying at home to avoid COVID because I have other health issues which could cause complications.

If your “new normal” is different from your “old normal”, can you share some of the ways it’s changed?

I am doing most of my voluntary work for Makerspace Adelaide from home now which I wasn’t doing before. The genealogy work I do for customers I’m still doing from home.

Do you think these will be long-term changes for you?

Yes I think these changes will continue for some time yet for me.

What personal benefits have you gained from the change of pace and experiences in the past two years?

I’ve been able to work on a major research project of my own instead of mainly doing work for customers.

What do you value most about your new normal?

Being at home means I’ve been able to do major de-cluttering of my house and now I can find things a lot better!

What is your view of in-person meetings (social or genealogy) and do you love or hate zoom meetings?

As I’ve said above I’m still staying away from in-person meetings where possible. I like zoom meetings.

What was the main activity and/or person that supported you through the unpredictable times?

My main activities are genealogy, crafts, listening to audio books and watching movies.

Has your community developed a new normal or just returned to the old one? What differences do you see, if any?

Most of the communities I’m involved in have returned to normal however I’m still feeling a bit isolated not being able to attend as many face – to – face activities as I would like to.

Blanka Buring Investigated By Military Police Intelligence Section

Blanka Buring Investigated By Military Police Intelligence Section

On the 27th June 1940 Miss Stella Armstrong made a report to the police about Miss Blanka Buring. The following is a paraphrase of the original report which I obtained from the National Archives of Australia.

Miss Armstrong says that she met Miss Buring about two or three years ago at the Women’s Club in Elizabeth St, Sydney. Miss Armstrong believes that Miss Buring is of German nationality. Stella reported that Blanka had said to her she hated England and was going to visit her beloved Germany.

Miss Armstrong also reports that Blanka had received an unexpected dividend in 1939 and that she was deciding whether to buy a car, or a house in Avalon. Stella noted to the police that Blanka also had a sister in South Australia.

As I was unfamiliar with this kind of activity I did some searching for context. I knew that German people were interned during World War II but I didn’t realise that every day Australians of German descent were reported on and then questioned by the police.

During World War II the Police Subversive Organisations Branch combined with elements of the Commonwealth Police, Navy and Army to form the Military Police Intelligence Branch to fulfill the role of a domestic security service. This involved the monitoring and control of enemy aliens, internees, prisoners of war, and suspected enemy agents plus the prevention of espionage, sabotage, sedition, and trading with the enemy.

Transcript of the above statement

No 14 Police Station Manly 12 July 1940

We beg to report having interviewed Miss Blanka Buring of Plateau Road, Avalon, on the 11th, instant, with the following result.
Miss Buring stated that she reside (sic) alone, does not associate with the local residents, and drives to town twice or three times a week in her own car.
She is about 60 years of age and was born in Australia of German parents, who came to Australia from Germany when they were each three or four years of age. Her parents are now deceased, and during their lifetime neither of them visited Germany. They were engaged in business as wine merchants and her brother Leo Buring, who resides at Emu Plains, is still connected with the same business. She receives an income from the South Australian branch of this business. She has been residing in this district for about two years, and is considered to be of good reputation but of an eccentric nature, as she has been observed walking alone on the roadway muttering to herself.
She has no associates in this locality except that she occasionally calls at the local store and Post Office.
She stated that she had visited a number of foreign countries including Spain, Italy and Germany and was last in Germany in the year 1929 for a period of three weeks when she was investigating social service work. During the year 1936, she visited England, Spain and France. On her return to Australia she resided at Mosman and later moved to Avalon. She stated that she was a most loyal British subject, and that in regard to the war, her sympathies were definitely with the British. She said “I think it must be admitted that one can find some good in every country, and I do think that Germany was unjustly treated in the Versailles Treaty. Having travelled (sic) about the world a lot, I am naturally broadminded and people do not seem to understand my outlook. I do not remember ever making any remark that could have been interpreted as being disloyal.”
This person is not required to register as an alien.

There wasn’t anything further of note in this packet from the National Archives.

Apart from being astounded at this course of events I also learnt a lot about Blanka from her statement. I didn’t know from where she derived her income so finding out that she was supported by Leo’s business answers my questions about how she could afford her overseas travel. This also explains her owning her own house and car. I am pleased to know she was comfortable at this stage in her life.

Instead of thinking of her as eccentric as the report suggests we would now think of Blanka, perhaps as an introvert who kept to herself. In her own words she says that people didn’t understand her, “I am naturally broadminded and people do not seem to understand my outlook.” By this time in her life Blanka had worked as a nurse, volunteered on boards and in training new social workers. Her broad-mindedness would have served her well in those endeavours. Blanka wrote about the need for social workers in hospitals and investigated what other countries were doing in this regard during her travels however I have yet to ascertain whether she worked as a social worker herself in hospitals or elsewhere.

This blog post is part of a series I’m writing about Blanka Buring. The previous post in this series is:

An Interesting Journey

You Can Research Your Home

If you live in an older home in South Australia you may be able to find out about it by following the tips from the State Library and State Records of South Australia, you don’t need to be a historian to find things out.

You will be surprised by what you can find out about the home you live in.

The State Library has a downloadable guide for Researching your locality in the collections of the State Library of South Australia which covers

Almanacs and directories
• Architecture in South Australia
• Mapping sources for South Australian history
• South Australian newspapers

as well as Tracing the History of a House

State Records has House or Property History which takes you through how to use their Archives Search, the South Australian Integrated Land Information System (SAILIS), Location SA, Maps of the Surveyor General’s Office, 1808-1946, land tax assessment returns and more.

Find Records For Government Childrens’ Homes in South Australia

Find Records For Government Childrens’ Homes in South Australia

I recently found a listing of state government childrens’ homes in South Australia. Here are all the named homes. Searching Google for any of these names will help you find pictures and info about them. Below the list are links to help with finding records.

Bedford Park Boys Training Centre
Boys Reformatory Hulk, Fitzjames
Boys Reformatory, Magill
Brookway Park
Campbell House Farm School, Meningie
Central Depot
Destitute Asylum

Photograph Campbell House Farm School
Campbell House Farm School

Edwardstown Industrial School
Girls Reformatory, Edwardstown
Girls Reformatory, Magill
Glandore Industrial School/Children’s Home
Grace Darling Hotel
Ilfracombe, Boys Reformatory
Lochiel Park Boys Training Centre
Magill Industrial School
McNally Training Centre
Redruth Girls Reformatory
Seaforth Home
South Australian Youth Remand and Assessment Centre
South Australian Youth Training Centre
Struan Farm School, Naracoorte
Vaughan House
Windana Remand Home

Allambi Girls Hostel

Allambi Girls Hostel
Davenport House
Kumanka Boys Hostel
Luprina Hostel
Nindee Hostel
Stuart House Boys Hostel
Woorabinda Hostel (and Campsite)
Cottage Homes
Clark Cottage, Clarence Park
Colton Cottage, Thorngate
Dartmouth Family Home, Port Augusta
Family Home, Mount Gambier
Fullarton Cottage, Myrtle Bank
Glandore Family Home
Hay Cottage, Lockleys
Kandarik Cottage
Klemzig Family Home
Largs Bay Cottage Home
Malvern Cottage
Merrilama Cottage, Glenelg
Morada Cottage
Port Lincoln Family Home
Port Pirie Cottage/Family Home
Pybus Family Home, Port Augusta
Reception Cottage, Glandore/Somerton Park
Slade Cottage, Glandore/Somerton Park
Spence Cottage, Kensington Gardens
Stirling Cottage, St Peters
Tintoo Cottage
Unit Living, Marion

This document Government Institutions South Australia gives a description, the history and where to find records for each institution listed above. If you had an ancestor who spent time in one of these homes you may be able to find them in the records.

There is more information here at Care Leavers Australasia Network https://clan.org.au/

Find and Connect A resource for Forgotten Australians, Former Child Migrants and anyone interested in the history of child welfare in Australia.