An Australian in a strange land called Australia… 288



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Australian Flag - Starts at sixty

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!

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!

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!

Libby English

I was a child of the "Age of Aquarius", which is a bit strange really as I am Libra through and through. As we were married young we didn't get to do the obligatory tour overseas until recently. We had a blast because we were "grey backpackers" in other words we backpacked but had more disposable income and if doing it rough some days didn't appeal we didn't!!! Nothing special about me I don't have any degrees or anything like that I worked from the age of 16 in the Veterinary profession for over 40 years. Had three boys (younger ones twins) Seen most of Australia following my husbands work and now semi retired for about the 6th time... until something else comes along!

  1. My two brothers, my sister and I came out from England with my parents in 1964 as ten pound poms. We came by plane – not without incident. A tyre blew when we landed at Singapore so we had a long wait. On the next leg of the trip the pilot’s window started melting and we had another long wait at Darwin. Being a much smaller airport, we were all transferred to the RAAF base for a sleep. Not that my brother and I did any. We were 9 and 11 and when we were found wandering around we were given bathers and taken out to the pool for a swim and given a guided tour of the rainforest around it. From there it was off to Sydney and after a quick night-time crossing of the brightly lit harbour bridge we returned to the airport for a domestic flight to Melbourne. We stayed at a big city hotel over night before my father’s new employers (Phelans) picked us up and took us on a three hour trip to our new home -Maryborough in Central Victoria. We all loved it instantly. Mum and Dad have now passed on but in November we are having a little family reunion in Maryborough to celebrate our 50th year in Australia. From the four children who arrived there are now 36 direct descendants in a family totalling over fifty. All very proud Australians

  2. Enjoyed your story Libbie, You were the ‘boat people’ we loved, even though we sometimes called you whinging poms.But your grit and determination and work values helped make Australians who we are today.My dad was a proud Scot with the softest brogue and was often called a ‘pom’.xx

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