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Monday, February 20, 2012

Wow, it's been a long time since my last post. I must get cracking and write something more interesting then this.

Sunday, January 23, 2011


In the past week I have managed to locate another French cousin named Claude, well at this stage we think we are cousins. Claude has been kind enough to locate some French records to help establish our potential relationship. It always amazes me that people I meet through genealogy are so kind and so helpful, even people who are not even related. This says a lot about the fact that the vast majority of people in this world are good and very kind. It's reassuring to know that in spite of all the negative reports we hear in the news about human behaviour, the vast majority of people are civilised and responsible. We only have to look to the events surrounding the recent floods in Queensland, northern NSW and Victoria. The response by people to these events is heartening.

During the past three weeks I have been going through some old photographs and loading many of them onto my flickr site. Many are not my photographs, some belong to my mother Jeanne, who would have to be the world worse photographer - renown for disembodying people and managing to capture ceilings, blank walls and the like in favour of the totality of the subject. There is a classic Jeanne photograph where the head of my brother Ross sits at the bottom of the frame and a vast expense of ceiling fills the field of vision. If I can locate that photograph I'll post it here. You'll need to have an invitation from me to see my personal photographs, but the vast majority are freely available at my flickr site.

During last year my best friend and his wife Asia (Joanna) visited Australia from Poland. Here are some photographs from their visit. I put up the Polish and Australian flags to signify welcome. L-R Myself, Julia, Asia and Kevin's mother Margaret outside my home. We all went up the coast to visit Margaret's rural property at Pacific Palms. It was good to catch up with some of Kevin's family, many of whom I've not seen for some years. While there Kevin and me got busy trying to remove the dreaded lantana as this shot indicates. Lantana removal is like painting the Sydney Harbour Bridge, once you seem to have finished, you have to start all over again. It's a never ending job - thanks Mrs MacQuarrie!!! L-R Kevin and me. We could have spent the entire time at Pacific Palms cutting down lantana.

Going through these old photographs I found some from my graduation so I thought I'd post one here. Photograph by Anthony Steklenborg. L-R my sister Yvonne, my mother Jeanne, myself and my good friend Barrie Jones, at the University of New South Wales, Kensington.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

I've been remiss of late in not posting to my blog, and it is my New Year's intention to change that.

On the family history front, I've made some good progress, but much is yet to be completed. A new contact has been made with a cousin Gilles in France. Whilst I need to do more on the French side of the family, the English side seems easier to research. I'm in the process of joining a French genealogical society, which might make research a little easier.

In the past year our school in Poland has come along well, especially with the refurbishment of an old building leased to us by the Gdansk City Hall. We moved into the new building in September and both students and staff seem to be very happy with the move to a new location in Przymorze. We have also up-dated our web pages for the school. The new web address is

As I'm not able to get about much these days, my photographic adventures have been some what curtailed - my family are always complaining that I never seem to show my photographs, but they never seem to visit my flickr site!

I made the big push to grow more vegetables to become more self-sufficient, but my tomatoes and peppers don't seem to share my enthusiasm! After giving them a final warning they seem to have picked up their game – but results are in the eating…I’ll keep you posted on their progress. Gardening use to be one of my favourite activities!

This blog seems more like my own personal diary, as I’m almost 100% sure nobody actually reads it. Of course that won’t stop me writing to it, because it will be here for posterity, long after I have gone. I really can’t complain too much as it has been a fairly poor effort so far by me. If I were to rate my own blog it would rate no more than 2 out of 10, and I’m being kind to myself.

My mother Jeanne and her Great Great Grandson Michael Harvey.

Our mother Jeanne celebrated her 91st Birthday in December 2010. She maintains a good sense of humour and her thinking cuts through anyone’s bullshit. People with a high opinion of their own self-importance have never impressed her. She says she is not interested to live to 100 years, but she always said she would when she was young.

In 2010 I managed to attend the 50th Anniversary Dinner and celebrations of my old high school. It was an interesting day and evening. More than 500 people attended. Although I didn’t find anyone I knew from my year. There were a few from the same time frame, but they were in other classes. It was amazing that our old Deputy Principal Mr. Ford was in attendance for the evening events, and at 98 years old he did a great job with his anecdotal accounts of his time at the school. They were all very funny, especially considering how our educational systems has become far too politically “correct” – and in the process has lost its way in dealing with the education of the young! School was tough in my day – it was a time when if you didn’t work, you failed school, unlike today when nobody fails. Schools today are sausage factories – turning out uniform items of production, many of which contain no meat!
My best mate Kevin and his wife Asia were her from Poland in 2010. It was great to see them and enjoy their company, although it was an all too short a visit. I also got to meet their beautiful little daughter Julia. She is just beautiful!

My best mate Kevin, with Asia and Julia.

My new project for 2011 follows the purchase of a new dat-recorder. Firstly, I'll need to learn how to operate this new device - more technology added to my list.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Since my last post I have been over to Europe and the UK. Most of my time there was spent in Poland. Although I don't speak Polish, apart for a few words picked up during my time there, I only had a few problems with communications. Most younger Poles, especially in the major towns and cities tend to speak some English, often quite well. In smaller villages and towns it is harder to find English speakers, although they are there, if you inquire. The major problem in not speaking Polish was dealing with people working in institutions, such as the post office, the police, museums, and other government and quasi-government organisations. Many of the people working in these institutions are older people who don't speak English or can't be bothered. I found that postal workers were the least helpful, and I tried to avoid dealing with them.

Most of the Poles I met were very friendly and helpful - some went out of their way to help me. Most Poles who speak some English are keen to improve their conversational skills, so they are happy to met and speak with native English speakers. I recall meeting a teenage boy at the bus stop out near Stogi, Gdansk, who not only gave me directions as to which bus to catch back to the city, but paid my fare as well. I did quite a bit of sightseeing using the local bus and tram systems, and I always found people willing to help me find the places I wanted to visit. Sometimes the buses and trams are from the old communist times, but many are new and all are very affordable. Just a warning however, at peak times, expect them to be packed, as many Poles don't own cars. Also, be aware that in some cities the bus or tram driver will not sell you a ticket, especially at peak times. You have to buy your ticket beforhand, from one of the kiosks that abound in Poland. Most train, bus and tram tickets must be franked either before boarding or at time of boarding the vehicle. Even if you have a valid ticket, you can find yourself in trouble with the ticket inspectors if you have not franked your ticket.

Intercity rains in Poland are pretty good. I found them cheap enough to always go first class. If you go second class expect every seat to be occupied, especially during the summer. Poles like most people like to travel, either to visit friends or relatives, or to go on holidays. PKP is the biggest train company in Poland. The tranis are always clean and well maintained. In most cases you'll find a dining car that will incluse a bar. During my travels by trains I met some interesting Poles. I'll wite more about this later.

Poles love their alcohol, although they have been given an unfair reputation of being heavy drinkers. Well that's true in some cases, but most people only drink during festive occassions. When they do drink, don't try and keep up with them, especially if they are drinking vodka. Home made vodka is something else - I can speak from experience. One thing I like about Poland and alcohol is that drinking, apart from being fairly cheap, is considered a social activity and most pubs and bars are very social. From my experience, drinking alcohol is done with friends, not alone. More later...

Monday, October 08, 2007


Well its been a long time since my last post. My time has been taken up with a heap of family history research, an ongoing project that I doubt will be completed in my life-time. I was fortunate enough to make contact with a fellow family history researcher in France, who was most helpful in organizing some of his contacts to look at various French records to give me a family tree going back to the 1600s. It's a good starting place to continue my own research on my maternal French grandparents.

During a visit with my cousin Richard Collett in Adelaide, I was given an old post card album that belonged to my grandmother Gertrude Annie Collett. Thank you Richard! I have now scanned all of these post cards, and they are available to look at on my flickr page. There are a lot of other photographs there as well. I have a few hundred other photographs that I want to post, but it's a matter of finding the time to up-load them to my flickr page.

Next year I'm off to Poland, Sweden, Russia, France and the UK, so no doubt I'll have many more images to post on flickr - when I have time. My best friend Kevin is getting married in Poland in 2008 - the main reason for my trip to Europe. Its been quite a long time since I was last in Europe.

During the past few months I managed to fracture my left foot, and yesterday I managed to fracture it again - not the same bone however. Is it a sign of getting old or something more serious? I'll certainly miss my walking - having only just gotten back to it after recovering from the first fracture.

My mate Chris Murphy at go2wo ( ) and I have been looking forward to the up-coming federal election - with the fervent hope that John Howard and his cohort of political no-hoper's will be tossed out of government. I found it difficult to accept that he was elected last time - I had my doubts about the sanity of the Australian population then. Now it's their chance to redeem themselves - surely they can see, at last, how evil and immoral John Howard and his government are! John Howard has caused my Australia to become a place in which I feel fearful. Not from some outside force, but of our own government and its various agencies.

Australia has become police state, a place where Australian citizens can be locked away at the whim of the government, without redress to the law courts. How many Australian citizens were locked up by Amanda Vanstone and Philip Ruddock might never be known. How many non-citizens remain locked away - we do not know, and my never know. What more evidence do we need! John Howard is evil and immoral - it make me laugh every time I see news reports of him attending church - what a hypocrite!

God help us all if John Howard gets back into office.

Saturday, October 14, 2006


This is a test post from flickr, a fancy photo sharing thing.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Hulin Family Reunion

The Reunion of the family of William & Mary Hulin 2006 at Singleton, New South Wales

Well it's been some time since I lasted added to my Blog page. Last weekend I attended a family reunion near Singleton, N.S.W, for the family of my cousins William and Mary Hulin. William & Mary Hulin came to Australia in about 1833 as convicts; William from St Briavels in Gloucestershire and his then wife to be, Mary Donahue from Ireland.

On Sunday the 1 October 2006 my sister and me attended the second day activities of the Hulin family reunion with a visit to Vere where William and Mary Hulin had lived. The actual location is now incorporated into land controlled by the Australian Army, so it was with special permission that we were allowed to visit the two homestead locations for William & Mary Hulin and that of their daughter and son-in-law, Sarah & George William Bates.

Later that same day a larger number of family members gathered at Catherine Vale Winery at Milbrodale for lunch and the exchange of family history information. In excess of 50 people gathered for lunch. Of course this number represents just a fraction of the descendents of William & Mary Hulin's family.

I have included some photographs of the day for anyone interested. Please feel free to download these photographs as copyright is given for personal or non-commercial use.

This image, and the one above, is of the Catherine Vale Winery.

It was a great opportunity for me to meet some of my distant cousins, as my connexion to William Hulin goes back to the 1790s through William's great, great, grandparents George Hulin and his wife Martha King of St Briavels in Gloucestershire.

My cousin Wal Mills was the main person responsible for organising a full weekend of Hulin family related activities. Thanks to Wal and his team the weekend was a great success. I hope there will be similar events in the future, as there was not enough time to met and talk at length with all my cousins who attended. As I could not find out all the names of the people in the above photograph, I would be delighted if you could let me know any names by e-mailing me at Then I can repost this image with all the names attached, so other family members will then know as well.

I have quite a few other photographs taken on the 1 October 2006, so if anyone wants to have a copy of these please contact me for a copy.

This photograph is of the oldest member of the Hulin family who attended on the day. I'm not sure of his exact name, but I'm sure someone will help me out here.

The pepper tree in the background is all that remains of the homestead at Vere, N.S.W of Sarah & George William Bates. Considering that this is now in the direct firing line of the army's target range, we are lucky that even this tree is still growing. The tree was at the back door of the farmhouse. Behind the raised ground at the back is a disused railway line, built by the army during the Second World War to tow moving targets. Apparently the farmhouse was still standing at the time of the Vietnam War, but every trace has now been removed. Yes that's me on the far left of the above photograph. Take a good look as you'll see very little of me in photographs in these blog pages.

Here we are being instructed by Firing Range Officer, Andy Thompson not to pick up any strange objects lying about. He was very helpful in telling the story of the army's control of this area and of the Bates' farm. He was a most gracious host and had a good sense of humour; well- done Andy!

On the right-hand side of the road is the farm land of William & Mary Hulin. This road, for as far as one can see, is now part of the Singleton Army Base.

Here in the Broke Cemetery are the unmarked graves of William & Mary Hulin, together with that of their daughter Sarah Bates. We all had an interesting time here as many of those buried in the Broke Cemetery are related to the Hulin and Bates families. The memorial shown here commemorates those people in unmarked graves.

Here is the headstone of George William and Sarah Bates at Broke Cemetery

Buried next to her parents is Kezia MacDonald, daughter of George William & Sarah Bates.

Below is a general shot of the very picturesque Broke Cemetery at Broke, New South Wales.

Below is a shot of the next generation, enjoying themselves at the family reunion.