|Country of Origin||Ireland|
|Date of Birth||13/02/48|
|Year of Arrival in Australia||1957|
|Submitted by||John Crawford|
My story begins in Cork, Ireland in the mid 1950’s when my parents decided that our family would have a more prosperous and better lifestyle in Australia, and so began our journey to Australia. We left Cork travelling through Ireland and England saying farewell to relatives and friends, arriving on the 10th August 1957 at Tilbury Docks in London to board the P & O liner SS Orcades.
The ship was full and we were on one of the lower decks where families were not allowed to be together. My mother and 2 sisters were in a cabin with other women, whilst dad and I were in another cabin with men. I think the cabin had 6 or 8 bunks with little room to move and very stuffy. During the voyage the weather was very hot and we often slept out on deck.
Leaving London our passage took us through the Mediterranean Sea, calling in at the ports of Gibraltar, Naples (with a day visit to the ruins of Pompeii) and then onto Port Said on the Suez Canal. Travelling through the Suez overnight, our next stop was Aden, followed by stopovers at Bombay and finally Colombo before crossing the Indian Ocean and seeing the Australian continent for the first time at Fremantle on the 2nd September. Some highlights of the journey were seeing dolphins racing the ship and at various ports people selling souvenirs from their little craft. Around the Suez and Aden we had magicians entertaining us on board.
We spent a day in Fremantle and Perth before continuing to Adelaide where we spent a further day touring the city. As we were travelling to Tasmania, we arrived in Melbourne on the 5th September 1957 to disembark at Station Pier, and then flew to Wynward/Burnie the next day. However, our time in Tasmania was short due to lack of job prospects and we soon returned to Melbourne to start our new life.
We were made very welcome by distant cousins as well as members of a local church and youth group where we made some lifelong friends. I was 9 years old and very homesick for Ireland and it took me a while to settle down especially when my mother had to also work as things were tight.
I completed my education in Melbourne, commencing work in the city for a number of years before transferring to Swan Hill in country Victoria where I met my wife and our 2 sons were born. For the next 40 years we have lived in a number of towns along the Murray River, the last 16years in the beautiful north-east part of Victoria.
It took me nearly 40 years to return to Ireland but have travelled back there many times in recent years and hope to continue to return for many years to come.
However, Australia is my home and I always look forward to returning when we travel. The year of 1972 was large in my life as it was the year I took out Australian citizenship, being very grateful to have been accepted and given a great and happy life in Australia as it is a wonderful country with beautiful scenery and great people as we have travelled to many parts of the country.