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Photographic Journal - B.J. Watling, S.S. New Australia, 'Journey to Australia and Life There', 1951 Document Reg. No: HT 1105

Photographic Journal complied by Benjamin James Watling, who immigrated to Australia from England in 1951 with his wife, Amy Ethel Amelia, and his daughters, Benita June and Jennifer Anne. When they migrated Benjamin and Amy were 47 and 51 respectively and the girls were 10 and 13.

The family decided to migrate as they were searching for more opportunities and a better life in a new country. Before deciding to migrate Benjamin was working in an accountant's office in Tilbury, while the family lived in Grays in Essex. Their first choice was New Zealand, but according to the family they weren't taking migrants at this time (however, this contradicts figures showing that NZ actually accepted 2,873 assisted migrants from the UK in 1951); their second choice was South Africa but, according to the family, the Mau Mau unrest at the time affected immigration opportunities from the UK, so they came to Australia.

The Watlings came to Australia as 'ten pound tourists' and arrived with a nest egg to establish themselves in Australia. They boarded the British Ministry of Transport's S.S. 'New Australia' at Southampton, for a six week journey. A hospital ship, they were accommodated on D deck and food was rationed. The family recounts their amazement on reaching Australia of the abundance of food available. Due to the brewing Suez crisis, the ship was escorted through the canal by two British naval ships.

The family came via Fremantle and Melbourne and got off at Sydney. Benjamin established a goods transport business which transported goods between Sydney and Melbourne. The family settled in Mullambimbi and purchased banana plantations in northern New South Wales. Benjamin and Amy eventually settled in Brisbane while Benita came to Melbourne. The family express their contentment at having ended up in Australia.
Standard lined exercise book with red cover. It contains 47 pages with photos and annotations, and there are 9 blank pages at end of book. Each page has 3 photos, attached by photo corners, and each with a hand written caption, clearly stating location and then a short comment. The photographs are 6.5 x 6.5cm and good to fair quality - amateur snapshots. The first page has single larger image of the ship 'SS New Australia'.
Acquisition Information:
Donation from Ms Benita Watling, 2003
Discipline: History
Dimensions: 165 mm (Width), 205 mm (Length)

More information

Tagged with: immigration, assisted immigration, immigrant voyages, ten pound tourists, station pier, benjamin james watling, diaries, journal writing
Themes this item is part of: Transport Collection
Primary Classification: MIGRATION
Secondary Classification: Travel - Shipboard Life
Tertiary Classification: diaries
Inscriptions: Front cover inscribed: 'BJ Watling / Journey to Australia and Life There'
Author: Benjamin Watling, Australia, 1951-1961
Ship Depicted: Shaw, Savill & Albion Line, 1951


Jill Lanham Posted on 22 Jun 2014 1:28 AM
Can I contact Benita? My cousin Lynn Rendell(nee Watling) is Benita's cousin. Her Father Leslie was Benjamin Watling's brother. Her late mother Betty was my Father's sister. Lynn has already seen the diary and is thrilled to bits about it.
Kind regards Jill
Discovery Centre Posted on 22 Jun 2014 10:24 AM
Museum Victoria Comment
Hi Jill, we will be in touch with you as soon as we can to let you know what the possibilities are.

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