RDP: Migration


Migration

Migration is such a contentious subject today. So many people fleeing war, starvation or oppressive governments and it seems that few countries want them. These people undertake journeys so hard and so scary and with so little chance of finding acceptance in a new country that I’m sure it is not undertaken on a whim. Leaving everything you have ever known is hard, especially if you are poor and faced with no other choice.

LE Eithne Operation Triton
Of course even the people who left their homes of their own free will did not always find migration easy. I’m thinking about the ones who emigrated to Australia, New Zealand, Canada, South Africa and the USA in the decades after World War II.

When we first lived in Australia we heard of many cases of British migrants who came but went back to England because one or more family members were homesick, they didn’t like the place they were living  or missed their friends and family back at home. Some ended up going back and forth two or three times before finally deciding where they really belonged. Many members of mum’s family emigrated, mostly to Australia but one branch to South Africa. Mum brought Naomi and I here on her own. That could not have been easy even though we were going to be with family. I was eight, Naomi six.

In those days many migrants to Australia came on subsidised fares as after the war there was a big push to bring new settlers here . “Populate or Perish” was the cry. Not all the migrants were British although a large proportion were. I’ve written before about former workmates who came from Italy, Greece, Yugoslavia, Poland and practically every other country in Europe.

Here we have Aussies, English, Polish, Italian and Greeks all working together.

Some of my former workmates at our Christmas Party circa 1990

A lot of those post war  migrants came as indentured workers, they worked on the Snowy Mountains Hydro Electric Scheme or for the Commonwealth or State railways systems or roads in other out of the way parts of Australia.  I mentioned one in my previous post who worked at Maralinga when the British were testing bombs there.

The “Ten Pound Poms” and their fellow migrants often lived in hostels when they first arrived. Some of these were probably war surplus pre fabricated buildings like Nissen Huts. Imagine spending your first Australian summer in one of those! Later those same hostels housed waves of Vietnamese “Boat People” who came to Australia as refugees after that war  and later again Albanian refugees from Kosovo although I think by this time the Nissen Huts had been retired.

Former Main Roads Migrant Camp in Narrogin, Western Australia (exterior)
Eventually those migrants that stayed bought houses, raised families and became Aussies, Aussies with funny accents but Aussies just the same.

Two former Australian Prime Ministers were “Ten Pound Poms” or their parents were. Julia Gillard, our first and only female PM and ironically, Tony Abbott the man who vowed to “Stop the Boats” both came from the UK.

The Header of this blog shows the Sitmar ship Castel Felice. She carried many migrants, including us from the UK and Europe to Australia and New Zealand. Below are a couple of links to migrant stories.

http://passengersinhistory.sa.gov.au/node/922486

http://www.open.edu/openlearn/history-the-arts/history/social-economic-history/meet-the-ten-pound-poms#

Author: Taswegian1957

Born in England in 1957 my family came to Australia in 1966. I grew up in Adelaide, South Australia, where I met and married my husband David. We came together over a mutual love of trains. Both of us worked for the railways for many years, his job was with Australian National Railways, while I spent 12 years working for the STA, later TransAdelaide the Adelaide city transit system. After leaving that job I worked in hospitality until 2008. We moved to Tasmania in 2002 to live in the beautiful Huon Valley. David passed away in 2015 and I'm here on my own now but I have Cindy the dog and Polly the cat to keep me company. I currently co-write two Wordpress blogswith my sister Naomi. Our doll blog "Dolls, Dolls, Dolls", and a "Our Other Blog" which is about everything else but with a focus on photographs and places in Tasmania.

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