|Country of Origin
|Date of Birth
|Year of Arrival in Australia
I feel mine is an ordinary story probably common to many immigrants of my day. Comparatively I didn\’t endure the terrible suffering that World War II brought so many but my ordinary story was shaped by the extraordinary times in which we lived.
The war robbed me of my youth and the education I would have liked. I had more freedom than perhaps I would have been allowed normally but my parents knew that any day could be our last. Although the war ended,the restrictions didn\’t and there was so much poverty and hardship, I longed to spread my wings and see the world and experience new things.
In December 1952 at the age of 26 I left England for New Zealand with a girlfriend. I didn\’t know anything about New Zealand and I hadn\’t really thought about where I wanted to go, I just wanted to go somewhere else. We travelled on the ship the Captain Cook on a 2 year travel bond with jobs awaiting us as telephonists at the Wellington Telephone Exchange.
We had great fun on the liner, everybody was filled with excitement and anticipation of a new beginning. When we disembarked at New Zealand we were astounded at how backward it seemed, we thought we were on a film lot. Still we met nice people and of course many of us were in the same boat, so we had good times.
It was at the Settlers Club in Wellington which held a dance for newcomers on Saturday nights that I met my future husband, Jack. We were married in New Zealand in 1954 and travelled on the Wanganella ship to honeymoon in Australia and never left. Jack had been back and forth to Australia many times and it had always been his intention to live there. It was somewhere where neither of us had family and we felt we could create a good life. I found Australia more modern but too damn hot and couldn\’t relate to the flora and found the landscape harsh, rough and unattractive. I did enjoy the beaches and like lots of migrants we settled in Bondi and began our family, a son Kelvin born in 1955 and daughter Julie in 1957. I found it a bit difficult to settle as it was a time when many migrants were arriving in Australia to populate or perish and felt resentment from Australians towards us ten pound ‘poms’.
We left Australia to return to England in 1958 as my sister who had married an American soldier and was living in Germany was killed in a car accident. My mother was devastated and I felt the need to return home to my family. But Britain still hadn\’t recovered from the war and life was hard and in 1962 we decided to return to Australia where we believed we could provide a better life for our children. We sailed on the Brittania which took around 5 weeks taking in many parts of the world visiting many interesting ports along the way but was difficult at times with small children, but filled with fun and adventure for them.
We stayed in a friends flat at Bondi and then we went to live at Westmead when Jack worked in Parramatta. We had sold our house in Britain and had the deposit to buy our first house in Blacktown where we lived for 6 years. A cul de sac of young families like ourselves from Australia and overseas, there we made good friends for life.
We have lived in various parts of NSW, 12 moves in all, longest time to date spent on the Central Coast.
We are average people who have worked hard living day to day. I did find Australia gave you the opportunity to be yourself and follow your own wishes without having to conform to what would have been expected back in Britain. For me the best thing about Australia has always been the people.
I have always felt guilty about leaving my family in Britain and have always felt torn between two countries which has never allowed me to feel fully settled. The war not only took me away but another sister also, leaving one sister and my parents alone. It wasn\’t the same for Jack who always felt Australian and didn’t have the same pull.
It was also difficult without a family and support from either side which makes for hard work on your own. However, it did made for a very strong relationship and close family unit.
Of course our children are Australian and so is our grandson. Our family continues to add migrants, our daughter brought her husband from England and our grandson is soon bringing his wife and our great granddaughter from China to this melting pot that we all call home.