|Country of Origin||Czechoslovakia|
|Date of Birth||1930|
|Year of Arrival in Australia||1952|
|Submitted by||Daniel Kopunic|
Reason For Leaving Homeland:
Bohumil was born at Sekule in 1930 within the then Communist Czechoslovakia. He was the youngest of 3 children and was only eight when Europe was engulfed by World War II. Sekule is a small town not far from the river Morava, which flows in to the Danube and forms the border between the now Slovak Republic, Austria and Czech republic. His early years saw him witness many harsh realities of war and its countless victims. He too, had a near death experience at 13 years old, when a Russian soldier held a pistol to his head and threatened to blow his head off, after being caught running out the back of his home to ring the church bell, alerting the towns folk to another occupation of their village. As he grew under the auspices of war torn Europe, he began working as an apprentice mechanic at the age of 12 or 13 and spent four hours a day, by train, travelling to and from his place of work. Often due to the long days he would fall asleep on the return journey home, end up at the end of the rail line, where he had to sleep on the empty train with no means to communicate his whereabouts to his parents. In his later teen years Bohumil embraced the virtues of democracy, where he eventually found himself picked up off the street by the authorities, spending 4 months in a communist mine due to his emerging beliefs. After his release, he and several friends from neighbouring towns saved up enough money and swam across the river Morava to Austria, with little more than the shirts on their backs and at the risk of certain death. Due to the fear of reprisals against his family, Bohumil told his parents he was going to watch a football match in the next town…..though he never returned, or ever saw his parents again before their death. Bohumil’s group then divided where he and 3 friends decided to travel to Australia under the Immigration Labour Organisation (ILO).
About the journey:
Bohumil embarked towards Australia on the ship called the ‘SS Nelly’, part of ‘the fifth fleet’, from Bremerhaven, Germany, spending nearly 4 months at sea. During his ship journey he was amazed at the flying fish that leapt from the water in the middle of the ocean. He disembarked in Melbourne, Australia on the 5th of May 1952, 25 days before his 21st birthday.
Arrival In Australia: He as many others, then spent time at Bonegilla in Victoria before beginning his immigration contract building the rail roads in the centre of Australia, just south of the Northern Territory Border. At this stage his English was very broken and relied on basic forms of communication. It wasn’t long before his expertise as a mechanic was known by a local Station owner, Mr McDill, who then offered him a job as a mechanic/Jackaroo on his station where he learnt English and often said, he was treated better than Mr McDills own son. Bohumil’s first experiences in Australia, initially in Bonegilla were of hot dry days. His experiences working under the ILO contracts in central Australia in a very harsh and inhospitable environment saw him work and socialise with Native Australians. His exposure to Australia’s first inhabitants and their cultures helped him understand the uniqueness of the environment, especially when half the jackaroos went ‘walk about’ and only returned 4-5 months later. Bohumil worked hard to create a new life a world away from his own and sacrificed many things such as family that should not be taken for granted. He eventually settled in Hahndorf, South Australia as the small German town reminded him of his homeland. He taught his three sons that the things in life that cannot be bought, like one’s health, their family and friends are more important that money. Bohumil suddenly passed away in Hahndorf, on 10 December 1999. His sons remain very proud of the man he was and the sacrifices he made to provide a better future for his family. Bohumil was a proud, strong and committed person who transitioned his unwavering and resilient morals and beliefs to the next generation of Australia.