I've had a fun-packed afternoon wandering round the archives at the State Library of New South Wales, and I now have a basic reader ticket, but I'll have to come back with a different form of ID in order to get the 'gold' card which will enable me to use some subscription databases and also to handle rare materials in the reading room.
It was interesting to note some of the subtle differences between the Mitchell Library and the British Library, although they aren't attempting to do exactly the same thing: in the British Library you have to sit in designated seats in order to use a laptop and woe betide you if you aren't in the right place (as I have previously found out to my cost...). In the Mitchell Library you simply have to locate a seat with a plug and if you can't find one then you can - with the Librarian's permission - go and sit in the otherwise exclusive 'rare books' section. And I haven't yet found a British Librarian who is prepared to come out from behind their desk to show you the catalogues. On the other hand, the British Library's catalogue is much better and you don't have to search in three places to find things.
Anyway, I guess the overwhelming impression I was left with was that I've got a lot of work to do in order to find a 'hook' that will enable me to start searching in the collection, because right now I haven't got a clue where to start.