|Country of Origin||England|
|Date of Birth||7/5/1946|
|Year of Arrival in Australia||Mar-69|
|Submitted by||Christopher Smith|
A lost young love, an overbearing parent and a desire to see the world were my reasons for coming to Australia. My intentions were to travel to Australia on my £10 ticket, work my way around the country for two years and return home to England. The working around the country never eventuated because I ended up getting married, having three children Jason, Trevor and Sarah and settling in Brisbane. I am now divorced but still live in Brisbane. I left school when I was fifteen, I have no qualifications or trade certificates and I worked for British Rail as a goods delivery driver. I had nothing to lose and everything to gain by going to Australia.
After a four hour car journey in the early hours of the morning from Cambridge to Southampton via London, I arrived at Southampton docks at 5am to board the Achille Lauro. Exhilaration and excitement soon changed to sadness upon having to say goodbye to my parents, younger brother and cousin who had travelled with me to see me off. (It would be another ten years before I saw them all again.) After the tearful goodbyes the ship set sail to an unknown world and it was time to explore our new surroundings. Being two single men, (I travelled with my long time friend, Don) we were sharing a four berth cabin with two single guys from Manchester. I remember the cabin being cramped and below the water line. The next six weeks would be very eventful. It was not a very pleasant voyage. The best part of the whole trip was calling in at different ports, Malta, Messina, Naples, Genoa, Teneriffe and Cape Town. The English immigrants were very parochial and were not used to the Italian way of life and Italian food on board. I can remember the English passengers, myself included, signing a petition to the Italian captain demanding roast beef and Yorkshire pudding. My friend Don was chosen as the person to hand this petition to the Captain via the Entertainments Officer and was threatened with being locked up in the brig for inciting a riot. The upshot was that the following Sunday we got a very poor imitation of roast beef and Yorkshire pudding. We decided to stick to the pizza from a pizza bar after that. We couldn’t use the swimming pool as it was full of broken bottles and I can remember sitting on a lower deck watching deck chairs being thrown overboard from an upper deck. It was not a happy ship and everybody on board gave a sigh of relief when we entered Fremantle Port six weeks after setting sail from The Old Dart.
My first impression of Australia was Fremantle. Dirty, smelly, industrial place. My first thought was, “Have I travelled half way around the world for this!!”. We then caught the bus to Perth. I am afraid that I have no recollection of Perth at all, other than my diary entry: “Lovely city”. Back on board ship next stop Melbourne. Diary: “Didn’t think much of Melbourne”. So my first enduring memory was passing under the Sydney Harbour Bridge bathed in mist, early morning. At last, the brave new world. This is one memory that will stay with me forever. Finally I was in Australia. But I still had one destination to reach, Brisbane. Boarding “The Brisbane Limited Express” train, sixteen and a half hours later, after sitting up all night on a very uncomfortable vinyl seat I arrived in Brisbane. After the hustle and bustle and fast pace of London, Brisbane was a comparatively big quiet country town. I fell in love with the place immediately.