My parents were 10 pound poms in 1950…Yep they were boat people!
They came to Australia with my older brother in tow to make a better life for themselves, plus my father was a wool sorter – he had started his job in the mills in North Yorkshire.
To cut a long story short I was born here; their 1st generation Aussie.
I apparently was a sickly child being allergic to almost everything! The doctor’s advice to my parents was to move from Queensland to Victoria and maybe the cooler climate would help. My fathers reply: “If I’m moving anywhere cold it’s back to ‘Ole Blighty'” and they did. I am only relaying what I was told up to here as I was about a year old when they returned.
I do remember growing up in Yorkshire – my parents lived in Bradford due to work but our VERY large extended family lived on or near the moors. I remember walking those moors on a regular basis with my very beloved grandfather and coming home to a little cottage with a cobbled floor and a BIG wood stove. Something was always cooking away. The big featherdown mattresses on the beds and pillows and doonas as well. These were all homemade so I’m guessing we ate a lot of poultry as kids? I always felt very loved, wanted and safe. Unbeknown to my elder brother and since arriving back in England we now had a younger brother. when dad told us we were about to get something we always wanted we were so excited. we thought we were going to get a puppy – but we were about to become boat people for a second time!
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We left England in 1964 on an Italian ship/boat (don’t want to upset any salties out there) called the Flavia. We hit a massive storm within hours of leaving England and can remember all having to put life jackets on and sitting in the large entertainment area. We would whizz across the floor with each large wave and we the kids were having a ball, but the adults – not so much! After a few days we all settled and we were off to the place where “cockies would eat the wallpaper off the walls and eagles were big enough to pick up fully grown sheep and the kangaroos would hop down the street and snakes were as thick as Dad’s arm.. All double dutch to me but it sounded interesting! Took me ages to realise a cockie was an insect I thought it was a very colourful bird!
We arrived in Sydney one nice autumn day and sailed under the Harbour Bridge and then went to a train station as we were off to Brisbane. We were met by my Godparents and taken to our first accommodation. We were staying with one of my Godmothers and her husband; we loved them both very much, plus they owned a car! Not that much later we moved into our first very own home. It was a massive Queenslander in Yeerongpilly, a suburb of Brisbane. It had big verandahs right round with a massive garden filled with mango trees.
I was to get my first real initiation into becoming the Aussie I was born to be. Let me just say, mosquitos love young pale people…they ate me alive! I use to go to school looking like a red Indian from the amount of calamine lotion Mum use to put on the bites. I was miserable – I wanted my granddad sooo much. Mum thought a pet would make me settle more, we got one from the RSPCA (a cat) and it promptly died! I hated this place even more. To makes thing worse everyone called me the little Aussie!
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Monday was wash day and I would help Mum start the fire under the copper (this was 1964) so she could get the washing on. Our furniture still hadn’t arrived. Looking back I bet mum wished it had as she owned a very smart English Electric washing machine with a wringer attached. Yet here she was building a wood fire to heat the water in the copper!
We the two elder ones started school – my brother thrived but I hated it!
We were just settling into a routine when again unbeknown to us we were about to move again. No not back to England but to the house we would spend most of our youth…our family home.
Did you family migrate to Australia? What are your memories from that time? Tell us below!