Hello all £10 Poms.
I'm conducting research for a feature length film on £10 Poms in the 1970s. I'm specifically wanting to talk to anyone who travelled on the Britanis - or anyone else who emigrated during that time. I'm also very keen to make contact with people that returned to the UK. If you would be willing to complete an questionnaire about any of your experiences, please get in touch.
Hi fellow migrants, I arrived in February 1957 on the S.S. Arcadia with my bother, sister, Mum and Dad. We sailed from Tilbury and arrived in Syndey 5 weeks later, travelling around the Cape instead of thru the Suez Canal, which was blocked at the time. We were based at Bunnerong Hostel in eastern sydney for 9 months, and resided in block 8, if I remember correctly the room numbers were 810,811,812. Life was good once we got used to the climate and the difference in cultures. Being laughed at constantly for my scottish accent became a daily hazard but I soon learned to talk like a true local and now have no trace (whatsoever)of my original tongue. I attended Crown St., Girls Intermediate High School for the time I lived in the hostel but transferred to Moorefield Girls High School once we'd moved into our own home. My Dad, Ken MacKay only lived till 1967 but my Mum lived until 2007, succumbing to Altzheimers disease several years earlier. My brother and sister are both still living, both having extended families. Even although I was nearly 14 when I arrived here, my memory of the trip is as clear as if it was yesterday, especially rounding the Cape, where dishes got broken, bones got cracked and hundreds of passengers got seasick. The Australian 1956 Kangaroos travelled with us on their return voyage to Sydney. My Dad had great fun conversing with them and trading stories about his life in the RAF. Keith Holman was one who asked us to meet him on the top deck at 5.00am on the 7th Febraury so he could introduce us all to Sydney Harbour thru his eyes. What an extra-ordinary gentleman he was. A special day I shall never forget as we berthed around the back of the harbour somewhere in Balmain, we were told to wait whilst all the paying passengers disembarked and then we were herded like cattle onto a public single decker bus out thru Redfern, Botany and around past the cemetery to Bunnerong Hostel. We lined up at the (female) managers office and told to stand at attention with our arms outstretched and were handed a grey blanket, white sheets, towels, plate, fork, knife and spoon, mug, toilet roll and of course room keys and told to make our way to our respective rooms. That had to be the one and only time I ever saw my father cry. He sat on the spring matress and sobbed "What have I done to you all", he lamented. Of course Mum shooed all three of us kids outside and comforted him. When we were allowed back into our rooms, we all decided there and then to work or help in any way we could to leave that awful place as soon as was possible to do so. This of course took nine months as only three of the five were eligible to work. Dad went straight to work the next day at Qantas, followed by Mum 3 days later where she stayed for 24 years. My brother got a job at MacDonald Construction and eventually transferred to Qantas as an apprentice where he stayed till he retired about 6 years ago. My little sister Patricia went to the kindergarten provided at the hostel and my daily routine was to take care of her in the mornings and drop her off at kindy at which time she would run to the wire fence and cry till I was out of site. Imagine having to travel to Crown St., High knowing that your little 4 yr old sister was sobbing daily till you returned. Not a happy time for me until the kindy teacher informed me that she quit crying the minute I was out of site and started as soon as she saw me get off the bus. Maroubra Beach was our summer haunt, picture threatres at Kingsford and Maroubra were weekly outings for us all. The people around Matraville were absolutely marvellous and never failed to help in any way if we ever got confused about buses, trams etc., It ended up being a positive experience and one which I (for one) will never forget.