Going back to Shetland

I took a journey to the Shetland Isles and felt like I had come home.

It was a strange feeling. I had never been to Shetland before this journey, yet here I felt like I’d come home. I felt like i belonged in this special place. Standing on a tall cliff, the ancient burial grounds behind me. I held out my arms to embrace the wind. I met a sea eagle gliding on the air currents. This was a very special journey which I will never forget. My lovely grandmother, Margaret Mary, often talked about the family coming from Unst in Shetland. We don’t have many photographs of Margaret Mary. She was my friend when I was young and I will never forget walking in the garden with her.

Her father Andrew Pennant was born in UNST, at Underhoul.

Margaret Mary Pennant (3)

Andrew was baptised by the Rev John Ingram at Uylesound Chapel. He sailed the world. While researching the Pennant families, I found multiple entries on the Shipping records which provide the names of the vessels with which he crewed. Often, his brother Alexander crewed on the same vessel. Two brothers together, sailing both the North Sea and oceans of the world.

shetland home coming
Family Home Unst ©Maggie Bain 2018

A Shetland come coming is a real family gathering. My home coming evening included fiddle music, lots of laughter, some whisky and generous amounts of food. The homes have extremely thick walls and nowadays the heating is always on.

When you have a chance go to http://www.shetland.org to find out more about this beautiful place.

©Maggie Bain 2018


Why I Love History and Family Stories

There is a little book, written by Paul Gallico, named The Snow Goose. The book may be a slim story, yet it contains a wonderful, reflective story.

I read The Snow Goose from cover to cover, over and over again when I was a child. This beautiful, sad story held me captive and I loved both Fritha from the Essex marshes and the reclusive Philip Rhayder. It is a story about love and loss. Its a story about heroic deeds. Its also the story of the evacuation from Dunkirk during World War two.


It was through this little book that i grew to love history and family research.

My grandmother Margaret Mary Bain also loved sharing her stories. She was really my best friend when I was a child.

I believe Family Stories are one of the most important ways to record our History. I have a copy of The Snow Goose on my shelves which I still re-read to remind me about beginnings. It still brings tears to my eyes. My daughter gave me another original copy of the book some years ago.

Fritha brought the Snow Goose to Philip for him to heal. The vivid descriptions of the Essex Marshes are a stark reminder of the landscapes and never ending cycle of nature adding to the story itself.


©Maggie Bain 2018

South Australia Research

I have done a lot of Family Research in South Australia and Victoria.

Towns I have visited while in South Australia include Victor Harbour, Strathalbyn, Lochaber, Naracoorte, the Clare Valley, Handorf as well as walking and trekking in the Flinders Ranges.

Some of the people to whom I’ve provided Family Trees to are the Williams Family and the Cherry Family.  These have all been private publications.  Throughout research of these families, I found extended members who were very interested in meeting their first or second cousin.

Genealogy, Family Research and Photography combines with Photography and Family Story Writing. I have now written several private publications for members of both the Williams and Cherry families.

The Williams families were, and still are, involved in wool production at Strathalbyne and Narracoorte. The families were very much involved in the settlement of these areas and the Methodist Church.

Naracoorte Williams

This side photo is an old shearing shed at their property Viewbank which is still owned by the Williams family. ©Maggie Bain 2017

Naracoorte MethodistNaracoorte Methodist Church Tucker Country 2017©Maggie Bain

New Zealand Adventures

I was in New Zealand in 2016. This trip was with a friend in the South Island.

Driving on the roads was a delight in comparison to Melbourne. The roads in New Zealand don’t have a lot of traffic. They are well signed.

The only thing we had to be wary of were the frequent land slides. In 2016 the slides weren’t that big. Later in that year however, New Zealand suffered a Magnitude-7.8 quake struck 90 kilometres north-east of Christchurch.


Earthquake Posted 14 Nov 2016, 2:46pm Local residents Chris and Viv Young look at damage caused by the earthquake, along a highway near the town of Ward, south of Blenheim on New Zealand’s South Island. Reuters: Anthony Phelps

Another issue that we had was on a particularly steep road in Dunedin. We had hired a van and were doing a picturesque drive around Dunedin. We took Baldwin Street during our travel. At the time we did not know that Baldwin Street is the Steepest Street In the World.

Baldwin Street is located in the suburb of North East Valley about 3.5 kilometres (2.2 miles) northeast of Dunedin’s city centre.

It is a short straight street of a little under 350 metres in length, rising from 30 metres (98 ft) above sea level at its junction with North Road to 100 metres (330 ft) above sea level at the top, giving it an average slope of slightly more than 1:5. Its lower reaches are of only moderate steepness, and the surface is asphalt, but the upper reaches of this cul-de-sac are far steeper, and surfaced in concrete. At its maximum, the slope of Baldwin Street is approximately 1:2.86 (19° or 35%) – that is, for every 2.86 metres travelled horizontally, the elevation rises by 1 metre.

I observed smoke coming from under the van and screamed to the driver. Realising the problem, the driver put the van into low drive via the gear shift. I think I screamed all the way down to safety.

Baldwin Street NZ House (3)

House on Baldwin Street, South Island, New Zealand.

The steepest street in the World