General Meetings

Our General Meetings are held on the 3rd Saturday of the month (January – November) commencing at 2 pm.

After each meeting we present our Speakers Program, with an informative guest speaker each month. Non-members are most welcome to join us for our short meeting – or if preferred, just for the speaker’s presentation, which normally starts around 2.20 pm.

Please see our Speakers Program below for more information on upcoming talks.

Family History Meetings

Please note that our Family History Group meetings are currently in recess.

Our Family History Group Meetings are normally held on the 1st Saturday of the month (February – December)  and also featuring a guest speaker after each meeting. Non-members are most welcome to join us for our short meeting – or if preferred, just for the speaker’s presentation.

Monochrome photo of timber getters, courtesy New South Wales Forestry Commission
Timber Getters, courtesy NSW Forestry Commission

For the latest information about upcoming meetings and guest speakers, stay tuned to this page and our monthly newsletters!

Our meeting venue is Gordon Library Meeting Room No. 1, in the Old Gordon Public School, which adjoins the Gordon Library, 799 Pacific Highway, Gordon (corner Pacific Highway and Park Avenue). It’s just a 5-minute walk from Gordon Station. For a map and parking information, see our Contact page.

Upcoming Meetings & Speakers Program

General Meetings are held on the third Saturday of the month (Jan. – Nov.)

Family History Group Meetings are currently in recess.

Saturday 18th June 2022 General Meeting
Dr Reinhard Ronnebeck: Grace Cossington Smith – A Ku-ring-gai Local

Reinhard’s talk will explore the life and work of Grace Cossington Smith (1892-1984) – a quiet pioneer of modernism who practised her art in Turramurra. Many of her scenes give a glimpse of the ordinary suburban home of her time: still lives, doorways and window sills. She also painted important events, such as the World Wars and the arrival of the Prince of Wales in Sydney, which show a broader view of what was happening in Australia and the world at the time.

Her paintings of the area around Turramurra show the development of the northern suburbs, and her paintings of the Sydney Harbour Bridge as it was being built are some of the best painted at the turn of the century.

About Dr Reinhard Ronnebeck
Reinhard was born, grew up and went to school in Berlin. His tertiary education took place in the USA and he holds a PhD in Clinical Psychology. Before his retirement he was head of the Department of Psychology at Royal North Shore Hospital, and Principal Clinical Psychologist with the NSW Department of Health. His book on child psychology, 7000 Days, was published by the ABC.

As part of his tertiary education, Reinhard completed several courses in art history, and this has remained a life-long interest. He has made numerous presentations on a variety of artists to the University of the Third Age (U3A) and at the Sydney Mechanics’ School of Arts (SMSA).

Saturday 16th July 2022 General Meeting
Ian Thompson: More Australian Inventions

Every day, throughout the world, over a billion people rely heavily on Australian inventions. Every time they drive a car, fly, eat or communicate, there’s a good chance it’s due to Aussies!

We all know some of the great and iconic inventions by Australians – the Victa lawnmower, the Hills Hoist, the wine cask bladder, Vegemite… but our guest speaker, Ian Thompson, knows a whole lot more!

Ian is a graduate industrial chemist with experience in agriculture, entomology and patents (with six to his name).

Ian will take us through the people and science behind some more iconic inventions and innovations, from colonial to contemporary times – so if you missed Ian’s first talk, catch up with this one – there’s so much more than the Hills Hoist and the Victa!

Saturday 20th August 2022 General Meeting
David Rosenberg: Pine Gap – the Inside Story of the NSA in Australia

In 1966, Australia and the US signed a treaty that allowed the establishment of a jointly-run satellite tracking station, just south of Alice Springs. For more than fifty years it has operated in a shroud of secrecy, and been the target of much public and political controversy.

David Rosenberg – a US high-tech spy who worked at Pine Gap for 18 years – was the first to speak out to give an insider’s account of what happens behind those locked gates in the middle of the Australian desert. When he left in 2008, he was the United States government’s longest serving technical liaison officer in Australia.

In his book, and in his presentation, David details his career with an American intelligence agency during a tumultuous period in history that covered the terms of three American Presidents, four Australian Prime Ministers, the end of the Cold War, a peace treaty between Israel and Jordan, two wars in Iraq and genocide in Rwanda, as well as the ‘War Against Terror’ and the emergence of North Korea as a nuclear-armed nation.

The intelligence collection mission at Pine Gap, and the partnership between Australia and the United States, has made Pine Gap the most important satellite ground site in the Intelligence Community.

Saturday 17th September 2022 General Meeting
Ian Burnet: The Tasman Map – the Dutch East India Company and the first Dutch discoveries of Australia

Every visitor who passes through the vestibule of the Mitchell Library stops to admire the magnificent marble mosaic of the Tasman Map, which fills the entire vestibule floor.

This story of the first Dutch voyages to discover Australia is set against the background of the struggle of the newly formed Dutch Republic to gain its independence from the Kingdom of Spain, and the struggle of the Dutch East India Company for trade supremacy in the East Indies, against its Portuguese, Spanish and English rivals.

Over a period of only forty years from 1606 to 1644, and based on sixteen separate discoveries, the first map of Australia took shape. The Tasman Map shows a recognizable outline of the north, west and south coasts of Australia, that was not to change for another 125 years until British explorer James Cook charted the east coast in 1770.

It was in 1925 and 1933 that the Mitchell Library acquired both the Tasman Huydecoper Journal and the Tasman Bonaparte Map. The story of how the library managed to acquire these treasures of Dutch exploration and cartography will bring new recognition to these icons of both Dutch and Australian history!

Saturday 15th October 2022 General Meeting
Patrick Dodd: The Holtermann Collection

Recovered from a garden shed in Chatswood in 1951, the 3500 glass plates that constitute the Holtermann Collection are the world’s most complete record of the gold rush era, and a treasure of the State Library. A very informed talk from State Library volunteer and Ku-ring-gai Historical Society member, Patrick Dodd.

Saturday 19th November 2022 General Meeting
David Hunt: Girt Nation – the Unauthorised History of Australia, Volume 3

Another rollicking ride with author David Hunt, as he speaks about the latest book in his series of prize-winning “unauthorized histories”.

David tramples the tall poppies of the past in charting Australia’s transformation from aspiration to nation – an epic tale of charlatans and costermongers, of bush bards and bushier beards, of workers, and women who weren’t going to take it anymore!

Girt Nation introduces Alfred Deakin – the Liberal necromancer whose dead advisors made Australia a better place to live; and Banjo Paterson – the jihadist who called on God and the Prophet to drive the Australian infidels from the Sudan. And meet Catherine Helen Spence – the feminist polymath who envisaged a utopian future of free contraceptives and easy divorce! 

Thrill as Jandamarra leads the Bunuba against Western Australia, and Valentine Keating leads the Crutchy Push, an all-amputee street gang, against the conventionally limbed. Weep as Scott Morrison’s communist great-great-aunt Mary Gilmore holds a hose in New Australia. And marvel at how Labor, a political party that spent a quarter of a century infighting over how to spell its own name, ever rose to power.

Yes, you’ll meet a colourful cast of characters from the formative period of Australia’s nationhood, and guess what – books will be available to purchase!

Find out more, if you dare, at David Hunt’s website

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