Day 1

Welcome to Country and Conference Opening


Welcome to Country: Uncle Lewis O’Brien

Keynote: The Right Honourable Lord Mayor Martine Haese

The German & Scandinavian Presence in Tasmania

Information and Presenter

The German and Scandinavian Presence in Tasmania: Case Histories on Selected Settlements

Presented by Michael Watt

The purpose of this study is to identify the attributes of rural settlements that immigrants from Germany and Scandinavia established in Tasmania in the nineteenth century. The study focuses on determining whether the immigrants established open or closed settlements based on an examination of five attributes: religion; education; occupation; language use; and social interaction. Using historical, ethnographic and content analysis research methods, the study examined clustered settlements that the immigrants established at Lilydale, north-east of Launceston; in the Fingal Valley on the central east coast; and on Bruny Island, south of Hobart.

About the Speaker

Michael Watt taught in several high schools in Tasmania and worked as an education officer in the Tasmania Department of Education. He holds masters’ degrees in educational studies and education from the University of Tasmania, and a doctorate in education from the University of Canberra. He currently works as an education consultant. In 1988, he published an article, ‘Dutch settlement in Tasmania’ in The Australian People: an Encyclopedia of the Nation, edited by James Jupp.

The German Baptists of Queensland

Information and Presenter

A God Fearing People cast into a strange and forbidding land! The German Baptists of Queensland

Presented by Eric Kopittke

At its peak around the end of the 19th century, German migration contributed up to 10% of the population of Queensland. Of these, a significant group were, or become, Baptists, and they were concentrated in the area north and west of Ipswich. With roots of their churches developing first from the 1860s, they eventually formed their own denomination; after the mid-1920s they merged with their ‘English’ counterparts who were established first in 1855 and organised themselves in 1877.

During their first seventy years, the German Baptists showed themselves to be a God-fearing more or less self-contained community, concentrating at first on their survival and then on their growth but with an eye on support of Christian work much farther afield. Afterwards, they contributed a solid core of faith and commitment to the larger denomination which has had an impact well beyond their numbers.

This paper traces the origins, development and character of this important continuing component of Queensland Baptist history and life.

About the Author

Rev Dr David Parker, BD, MA, PhD,  is an ordained Baptist minister (retired) who directs the Baptist Church Archives, Queensland. He has been researching, writing, visiting and advocating for German Baptists for more than 30 years.

He is the author/editor of numerous publications relating to Baptist identity, thought and history, including Pressing on the With Gospel (2005, 150th anniversary of Baptists in Queensland), Strange Bedfellows:  Rev. Charles Stewart, Brisbane’s First Baptist Minister, and the United Evangelical Church, Brisbane (1998); James Voller: Pioneer Baptist Minister of Australia (1997);‘A True Pastor’: The life and ministry of William Higlett (2002) and Women who made a Difference (2009).

Dr Parker has served as a pastor in NSW and Queensland and taught theology and New Testament in Queensland. He was also the Executive Secretary and Director of Publications for the World Evangelical Alliance Theological Commission and served on the Baptist World Alliance Heritage Commission

The Biography of a German Chair

Information and Presenter

The Biography of a German Chair: an object revealing trans-national connections and stories

Presented by Christeen Schoepf

The biography of the Mayoral chair of Port Pirie, South Australia, can tell the history of that locality. Through further examination of the people and events that have shared this biography, many stories can be told: German migration to the state; trans-national shipping; Hanseatic ship building; German forestry and timber movements; and, even legends of the Teutonic people. How? This chair was crafted from the remnants of the German barque Saturn by a German who had made a new life in South Australia. Beginning life as an acorn in a German forest, it grew to adulthood, and was felled and floated to Stralsund. In its next life, this oak became a ship that sailed the world with cargo but then burned in 1888. The chair then has lived multiple lives. This presentation will reveal how one object biography can add fresh layers to the German-Australian story.

About the Speaker

Christeen Schoepf is a Historical Archaeologist and Community Historian with a keen interest in German migration to South Australia, particularly the mid-north. Her work is focussed on the objects, extant and not, that can tell the stories of this process and the subsequent lives of those who made the journey. The research is multidisciplinary and uses: historical sources; oral history; genealogies and biography. She has presented her work on object biography throughout Australia and internationally including Abu Dhabi, London, Christchurch and Buenos Aries and was awarded South Australian Emerging Historian of 2014.

Lightning Talks - Lutheran Archives and GAGHA


Lutheran Archives – Rachel Kuchel

GAGHA – Eric Kopittke

Lightning Talk - GAGHA


Eric Kopittke – GAGHA and Queensland Family History Society (Central Europe Group)

Lightning Talk - SA Genealogy & Heraldry Society


Aileen Preiss

The Great War & German-Australians

Information and Presenter

The Great War and the treatment of German-Australians in South Australia 1914-1922

Presented by Michael Wohltmann

How could it be that German-Australians, who were viewed as zealous hard working and model citizens prior to the Great War were five years later, treated as outcasts in their own society? Can these events be explained simply as war hysteria, or were there other factors at work? When the Great War ended in 1918, it was not the end for the German-Australian Community .In fact, things only became worse for the German-Australians in the post-war period.
This talk will focus on the phenomenon of internment and Enemy Aliens and the impact on the German-Australian community in South Australia. It will also  examine the post-war period and the concept of internment as a global feature of the Great War.

About the Speaker

Michael Wohltmann was a senior secondary teacher for 31 years, during which he taught Year 12 Modern European History, Australian History and International Politics at country and metropolitan high schools throughout South Australia. For the last eight years, he taught these subjects at Marden Senior College, an adult re-entry college catering for students aged 18-80. In 2015, Michael published “A Future Unlived: A forgotten chapter in South Australia’s history”, documenting the effect of internment on South Australian Germans.

Day 2

Panel Discussion: Australisches Deutschtum?


Australisches Deutschtum? Why study German-Australian history

A robust discussion about the meaning of identity and the need for history.

Facilitator: Ben Hollister, Executive Officer GAGHA

Panellists: Dr Lois Zweck (Lutheran Archives), Cate Pearce (GenGenAus), Christeen Schoepf (Professional Historian)

Heimat Adelaide: Mapping German locations in the city

Information and Presenter

Heimat Adelaide: Mapping German locations in the city

Presented by Benjamin Hollister

German heritage is easy to see in places such as Westgarthtown, Hahndorf and Bethany, but in the larger cities of Australia it is sometimes swallowed up and covered over. ‘Heimat Adelaide’ is the result of researching Germans using council assessment books, directories, and city survey maps and locating the areas of German work, life and recreation.

It is also the work of many volunteer transcribers who have given their time.

About the Speaker

Ben Hollister has been a professional genealogist since 2007, and a historical researcher since 1997. He currently owns and operates a historical research business focussing on German-Australian research, and as well as offering a variety of support services to historical researchers. Ben has been the co-convenor of the Germanic & Continental European SIG of Genealogy SA since 2014 and also serves as Executive Officer of the German-Australian Genealogy and History Alliance, a network of societies, archives and researchers.

Ben is a Certified Professional with the Australian Library and Information Association and a director on the board of the Association of Professional Genealogists. He holds tertiary qualifications in information management, educational management, and applied history, and vocational qualifications in business management and event management and design.

Which Side of the Hyphen? Acculturation of music

Information and Presenter

Which Side of the Hyphen? Acculturation of German Immigrant Music into a Unique German-Queensland Musical Landscape

Presented by Mark Schuster (presented remotely)

This presentation will focus on the research findings of a long-term study into the acculturation of music and song of the once extensive German-Queensland farming communities. The original music, song and dance repertoires were the extensive ‘cultural baggage’ of the mass migrations from the Germanic regions to southern Queensland from the 1850s to the early 1900s.  Folksong, dance, accordion, brass band and zither traditions will be detailed and the geographic ‘songlines’ of these traditions with respect to acculturation, persistence and settlement patterns will be presented.  The question of when and where do these ‘German’ traditions become ‘Australian’, or even ‘German-Queensland’ will be examined in detail.

About the Speaker

Mark Schuster has spent over thirty years investigating, recording, documenting and performing the rural German-Queensland folk culture. Much of his time has been spent with the German-Queensland farming community. His knowledge of the customs, folklore and music of these unique German-Queensland enclaves is unrivalled and today he is a custodian and descendant documenting the tail-end of these many traditions before they disappear. He has written self-published books, including the ‘Singing Farmers’, appeared on ABCs Australian Story and has performed at hundreds of functions and festivals. Mark is also a master of that most ‘German’ of Queensland bush instruments – the squeezebox (button accordion).

Welcoming New Australians: migrants after World War II

Information and Presenter

Welcoming New Australians: the Lutheran experience for migrants after World War II

Presented by Adam Kauschke

At the end of World War II, one in every six refugees in Europe was Lutheran. Many Germans, Latvians, and Lithuanians sought a new home in Australia, and the Lutheran Church in Australia played a pivotal role in assisting their migration and resettlement. Almost overnight the Church found itself responsible for the provision of chaplaincy and immigration services, alongside the support of migrant pastors and the establishment of migrant congregations. Immigration records created by the Church’s departments and congregations provide a rich source of migration information. This project has resulted in a greater understanding of the records held at Lutheran Archives which tell the stories of these migrants. These stories range from the administrative legwork undertaken by the Board of Immigration’s Executive Officer from Bonegilla to the local communities across Australia where migrants eventually settled, worked and worshipped. This presentation will touch on these newly-discovered stories and research opportunities.

About the Speaker

Adam Kauschke is an archivist based at Lutheran Archives in Adelaide, serving Australia’s largest national religious archive since early 2017. Since October Adam has been working on the post-WWII migration records project in order to improve the accessibility of these records for the migrants, their families and the researching community. This kind of work brings together individuals and families, and enables them to discover their own histories, which is what Adam finds most rewarding about his work.

Power behind the pulpit – the Pastor’s wife

Presenter and Information

Power behind the pulpit – the Pastor’s wife

Presented by David Sweet

Eleven hours of interviews and ninety thousand words transcribed provides a rich and thick oral history of a Pastor’s wife. Vida Heinrich (1930-2016) was raised, went to school and married in Freeling (SA). She was the second eldest of five children to fourth generation (immigrant) German farmers. At twenty-one, (1951), she married recently ordained Lutheran Pastor, Dudley Liebelt and moved to outback Queensland. The role of a pastor’s wife in the second half of the 20th century was not easy. Her family often survived on the generosity of parishioners who provided them with gifts of food. From Gin Gin, Queensland to country South Australia, Vida juggled the demanding and dual roles of mother and pastor’s wife. My research methodology commences with the traditional approach to oral history and then employs what I call ‘photographic autoethnography’ where the research participant uses family photographs to tell their story. This is Vida’s story recounted, in part, through her family photographs.

About the Speaker

Dr David Sweet lectures in communications studies at the University of South Australia and has written for a range of business, educational and academic publications. His ethnographic focused research is based on oral history and the legacy of family photographic collections. David actively encourages others to record their oral stories using family photographs. He also holds a Masters in photo-media (ECU WA). David is a Fellow of the Public Relations Institute of Australia, national secretary of Oral History Australia and has been awarded the Australian National and the Police Overseas Service Medals.