Inverell Family History Group hopes to reopen next week

I’ve received a response to my previous post about the fire that destroyed the premises and resources of the Inverell Family History Group from the President, Ann Hodgens:

Dear Carole,
Thanks for publishing the story about Inverell District Family History Group and the big fire which destroyed our library. We would like everyone to know that the group will be continuing and we have new premises already. The group did have a very small amount of material off site, however the wonderful family history and history world have overwhelmed us with their generous offers of duplicate books etc. At present we are unable to accept any offers of research material, however people can register anything they would like to offer, relevant to the wider Inverell district, by downloading from our website a donation form and after completing this, returning the form to us at PO Box 367, Inverell 2360. We we are able to accdept material we will then contact donors.
The wonderful fire brigade people rescued some of our family files containing family trees, copies of BDM certificates, etc and our priority is to salvage what we can of these. We believe we may salvage as many of 200 of these family files which is fantastic.
Our insurance company have authorised an immediate payment to provide us with computer, photocopier, desk, table, filing cabinet, bookshelf and chairs – these are now in place in our new premises at 129 Otho Street, opposite the centrelink offices. Members have generously donated items such as, paper, pens, pencils, stapler, magnifying glass, waste paper bins and even toilet paper!! We hope to be open again next week.
We would like to thank everyone for their amazing and very welcome support through this disaster.
Ann Hodgens

Please contact the group directly through their website if you can offer them any assistance.

Inverell Family History Group destroyed by fire, not the Inverell Genealogical & Historical Society

I have been forwarded the following email regarding the fire in Inverell:

Due to the number of phone calls and E-mails that we have received we have decided to let everyone know that the Inverell Genealogical & Historical Society Inc is not the one named in the news about a Historic Building being gutted by fire in Inverell.

The fire was in the Byron Arcade building which housed a Butchers shop, A Legacy opportunity Shop,  A crystal spiritual shop, a Café And a youth assistance centre as well 2 or 3 other shops on the ground floor and the Inverell District Family History Group shop front and research room. The shops were completely gutted as well as the 14 apartments on the first floor which because smoke alarms were fitted the tenants all escaped without any injuries. All the contents of the shops and apartments were completely destroyed and all that stands now is the façade and some of the other brick walls. An engineers inspection is being carried out to see if the building can be resurrected, we hope this is the case.

The Inverell District Family History Group has lost all their archives, books, family histories as well as various other records on paper and film as well as their CD collection, which are almost all irreplaceable. The computer photo copier and cabinets can be replaced but the records are all lost

You can go to to see the full headline story in the Inverell Times of Tuesday January 26th.

We will add a story in our February E-History Newsletter, and hope by then to know if the building is to be demolished or not.

Editor:  Inverell Genealogical & Historical Society Inc


When you are writing up your family history, don’t forget the weather.

Sydney is suffering today from a few days of hot weather. We are always shocked when it gets hot like this, with the north-westerly wind straight from the desert, and we hide inside with our air-conditioners. At least, that’s what I do.

Our reliance on domestic air-conditioning has developed during my life time. Where I grew up, in Dubbo in central western New South Wales, we got days like this quite frequently in summer. It’s a dry heat, with little humidity. We had an evaporative air-cooler, which was an air-conditioner-shaped box on a stand with wheels that you filled up with water and turned it on. It would blow air, cooled by the water, in the direction you pointed it.

In the evenings, when the sun was low but still quite bright, we would go outside and sit in the shade, much cooler than inside the house. Any slight breeze was made the most of out there. But of course the cooking still had to be done inside, on the stove or in the oven, heating the kitchen, at least, even more.

I went to a high school that was growing faster than the buildings to contain it. We had two demountable classrooms, which were spare classrooms that could be trucked in in pieces and put together onsite quickly. They had a metal roof and were like ovens in summer. We hated them. A class in one of those rooms was torture. I believe those classrooms are still there, in the same place on the edge of the oval, with air-conditioning in them, with more recently erected classrooms alongside.

Christmas Day was spent cooking a large hot meal with roast chicken and vegetables and plum pudding. Chickens were expensive in those days, without battery hen houses, and turkeys even more so. We always had a box of cherries that my grandfather would buy on his annual trip to Sydney. As a special treat we might have bottles of soft drink with dinner. After dinner we would go somewhere and sit, or lie, as still as possible.

Imagine, then, what it was like for our ancestors! What a shock this heat must have been, for those new immigrants!

The clothes of the eighteenth century did not leave any skin bare except for the hands and perhaps the forearms, so they would have been hot, even though they were made of natural materials. They didn’t just wear them once and toss them in the laundry basket, either, as we do. Water wasn’t on tap, for washing clothes, or people, or anything else, but brought by bucket from a dam or river. Kids didn’t play under the hose when it was hot, as we did.

Work had to be done whatever the weather, then as now. Offices weren’t air-conditioned, and I imagine the clerks with their beautiful handwriting in their shirtsleeves on days like today, trying not to get sweat on the big registers we look at now in the archives. The paper was thicker, and I guess it could withstand a bit of moisture!

Farming was mostly small holdings, with little money for livestock, let alone air-conditioned trucks and farm machinery. Farmers are tougher than most of us even now, in their shirtsleeves and hats, out in the fields mending fences, ploughing, harvesting, hay-baling… there is always a long list of jobs a farmer has to do.

Admittedly, they did build houses more practically in those days. Houses had high ceilings and many were of double brick. Farm houses had verandahs all around. But the corrugated iron roof was cheaper than tiles, and it’s incredibly hot to live under. Early houses were mud brick and thatch or corrugated iron.

We talk about global warming and so we may assume that the weather was different in  our ancestors’ day than it is now, but look at any newspaper of the period and you can see that generally it was much the same. Perhaps it rained more but that goes in cycles. They had drought, fires, floods, too much rain, not enough rain, and days that were just too hot to bear.

Just like us.

What to do

  • Ask your parents what the weather was like for them when they were young. Did it get hot like this? What did they do to keep cool?
  • Ask your grandparents and their generation the same questions.
  • Look through local newspapers from this time of year. You may see stories about record temperatures, bushfires, dam water levels – similar stories to those we see today.
  • look at climate statistics for your local area at the Bureau of Meteorology. Look at the average monthly temperature and rainfall and imagine what that meant for day-to-day living.
  • Put on a long, high-necked dress and go shopping! (just kidding)
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