|Country of Origin||ITALY|
|Date of Birth||10/10/2028|
|Year of Arrival in Australia||1956|
|Submitted by||MICHAEL ROMANO|
My name is Giovanni Romano, I was 27 years old, my story begins when I left my home country, Italy on the 6th January 1956 and sailed on the ship NEPTUNIA. I was born in Joia, Sanitico Prov Caserta. I decided to leave my beloved Italy for the opportunity & better life. Also there were fantastic stories of wonderful job prospects waiting beyond this troubled country in disarray. I was about to leave, those prospects and opportunities were to be given the name Ð Australia. I also left my sweetheart Clementina in Santo Potito behind & I vowed one day that I would call for her and we would be together once again.
On the ship I met some wonderful people in which become great friends. I was on the ship for a long 29 days, it seemed like an eternity. The meals on board included Steak, Spaghetti of course, coffee and wine 2lt per four people, they were generous don\’t you think? I guess they wanted us to numb the pain of the long journey. We went up to the top deck to view the large fish swimming which were actually sharks. People were also dancing to music in the formal ballroom, suit only attire was allowed. Also a swimming pool to cool us down as we approached Australia\’s hot summer. We had 4 stops, we started from Naples, Italy then stopped at Mercina, Sicily; Port Said, Egypt; Columbia, Ceylon; Jakarta, Indonesia.
We then arrived in Australia at the port of Fremantle then the next stop was to be Melbourne then Sydney where I finally stretched my legs for the first time on February 5th, 1956 – 30 days later
My first thought of Sydney was it seemed like a wonderful place. The next day I was on the train to Brisbane where I found work after 2 days, preserving fruit in a factory. I did this while waiting to start a contract in sugar cane. I decided not to work in sugar cane.
Two months later I found myself in Horsham Victoria where I knew a friend that said work was available in abundance. It was good to see this friend, a familiar face. I first worked on the railway at Jung. The conditions weren\’t great – my bed was made of straw, yes I slept on straw like a horse, so it was not very comfortable.
After 1 year I had had enough and found work at the water commission. I then left and found contract work at the foundry & they also paid me a better wage. Then it closed, I went back to the railway, worked for a year. Then back to the new foundry where I worked for the next 26 years. This was a small and quaint town where people could be trusted and treated you quite well. My English improved dramatically over this time and communication was much easier.
For the next three years I continued to communicate with my wife to be, we wrote letters to each other all the time. I finally saved enough money to then pay for Clemetina’s trip to Australia. The day she arrived in Australia was 16 August, 1959. When she arrived in Melbourne I whisked her off to the church and we were married that same day at St Josephs in Collingwood.
This year we celebrated our 50th Wedding Anniversary.
We adapted easily to the Australian lifestyle, the only barrier at the beginning was learning a new language. We had 2 wonderful children Marisa and Michael. After working at the foundry we then opened our own business – a plant nursery which was fantastic and brought us joy as it was one our passions. The people of the town also embraced the business and us which brought a smile to our face. We built a new house as our life improved.
My 2 other brothers also left Italy and joined me here in Australia. Then my brother-in-law also joined us. It was good to have an extended family once again since I was from a family of 13 children.
I become an Australian Citizen after 5 years and my wife 3 years later. So I am proud to call Australia home after all these years.
I arrived in Melbourne\’s Olympic year, I heard the events on the radio as no TV was available. I walked past an electrical shop to catch a glimpse of an event – it was a poor quality picture. Hasn\’t technology come a long way?
Horsham seemed like a little quiet town, it had old looking buildings. Today it is a vibrant new modern community, and I am happy to say I helped to build it.
The early years were very labour intensive but with machinery today we have transformed into revolution. Melbourne changed over the years, only 2 storey buildings touched the skyline unlike the skyscrapers of today.
Sir Robert Menzies was the Prime Minister who in effect increased immigration to develop Australia and effectively brought me here.
My name Giovanni (John) Romano and this was my story. Farewell.