Photograph, courtesy of Margaret.
There was a lot of advertising about Australia in London during the 1960s. ďMigrate to Australia. Donít take your winter clothes. Everybody in Australia owns their own home.Ē That was the kind of thing we saw all the time.
My husband was the one who really wanted to come to Australia to be with his father and the rest of his family. It didnít really bother me so I just went along with it.
He migrated to Australia in 1966 and I came a few months later on the Fairstar with our son Stephen. Our boat left Southampton dead on time at 3.30pm in the afternoon but we sailed straight into a storm and by 5.30pm everybody on board ship was in bed with sea sickness. For three days the ship rocked us four ways. Furniture and suitcases slid backwards and forwards. It was ghastly. When the storm finally eased people has cuts and bruises and some had even lost fingers.
Sailing through the Suez Canal was an experience Iíll never forget. We stood on the deck all day watching the sand of the desert in the distance and people fishing in the canal. They were so close. I felt as if I could reach out and touch them.
We arrived in Fremantle on Christmas Day. It was a lovely sunny day and the docks were very clean and quiet. We docked for about three hours and then travelled on to Melbourne. As we sailed through the heads into Port Phillip Bay people stood on the shore waving. Bernie met us at the docks with his family - thirty people who I had never met.
My first impression of Australia was the colour, red. House roofs in London were made of grey slate so the red iron roofs in Melbourne made a strong impression, glowing bright red in the sun. The sky also seemed much bigger in Australia.
I didnít have any problems settling in Melbourne. As soon as my son started school I got a job and went out and met people. Itís no good sitting at home moping. Life is all about going out and doing things. I fit in here because Iíve learnt that the three essential things in Australia are your fridge, your lawn mower and your car.
My son found it a bit hard to settle at school because one of the kids called him a pommy bastard. I was never called a pommy bastard but if I had been I would have taken it as a compliment. Actually, Iíve been living in Australia longer than some of the kids who call us pommies now.
For a few months after we arrived in Australia we rented a bungalow from an elderly couple called Mr and Mrs Rocket. Mrs Rocket taught me how to cook pumpkin and silverbeet, which werenít the kind of vegetables we ate in England. Clayton South was just starting to be developed in the late 1960s and the houses had no sewerage or indoor toilets. The streets had open drains and there were no made roads. In fact taxis refused to drive down Third Street because the road was so bad.
When it rained, South Clayton was awash with mud. All my high-heeled shoes from London wore out within three months. Actually I preferred it when there was no roads here; it was more countrified.
The kids here all play in the street, which is fantastic. They play cricket against our fence or set up chairs and ropes and play tennis while all the kids sit around watching. When my grandchildren come here from England they love playing on the street because this never happens in London.
But we donít really have a sense of community in Westall because we have nowhere to get together. All our facilities, such as the community health centre and the library, are in Springvale. The Cambodians and the Vietnamese living around here also go across to associations in Springvale because we donít have anything of our own.
Article Cat. Blended Voices
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