Departure & Arrival

Immigrants arriving at Port Melbourne Railway Pier, 1910
Immigrants arriving at Port Melbourne Railway Pier, 1910.
Source: Museum Victoria

Millions of people have made the journey to Australia since the first European settlers arrived in 1788. Many came seeking a new home. Some fled from the ravages of war, hunger, religious persecution or political repression. Others have been lured by a sense of adventure or by the prospect of a new beginning, owning land, making a fortune, or being reunited with loved ones.

Over the years, people migrating to Australia have recorded a range of emotions upon departure—fear when embarking on a dangerous journey or the excitement of setting out to seek a new and prosperous life, and the sadness of leaving family or friends.

Landing at an Australian port has also been marked by a variety of emotions. For those who migrated by clipper in the 1800s, arrival often meant relief that a long journey had ended safely. Those migrating from continental Europe after World War II were often more concerned with how their new life would differ from the one they had left behind.

Today the experience of migrating to Australia may not be so different. Regardless of whether travelling by air or sea, the excitement of landing is usually tempered by feelings of anxiety about starting a new life in a different country.


Search the web to find poems about leaving home as a migrant.

By entering Poetry Leaving England Migration into Google, you will obtain several good poems. Google search for similar poems in languages other than English.

Which poem do you like most? Print it out and discuss it in class.

Have you ever felt homesick? Write a few sentences describing when you had this feeling and what it was like.