Wednesday 18 December is International Migrants Day. Almost half the population of Australia has direct or indirect family links to another country, so to celebrate this day, we thought it would be great to hear your migration stories.
To kick off I’m going to share my migration story, which is an indirect one, given I was born in Australia to migrant parents.
My father was born in Austria but first came to Australia on the Arcadia passenger liner in 1955, spending time in a migrant camp in Singleton, New South Wales before heading to Sydney.
I can’t begin to imagine how challenging this would have been, but also what an adventure! Imagine arriving to the country town of Singleton in the middle of summer, compared to Vienna—a cosmopolitan city transitioning from its occupation following the war. A different language, culture and environment.
He settled in Sydney for a few years, working several jobs while knocking about town on his motorbike and taking advantage of our sporting culture—participating in amateur boxing in Sydney’s inner west and regular tennis matches with fellow migrants during the hot summer.
Eventually he returned to Austria and met my mother in a small village in the alps. They married and quickly decided to move to a country which offered them more opportunities. Like many migrants of their era, it was a toss of a coin between Australia and Canada, but they boarded the ocean liner to make the long journey to settle here.
The world is a much smaller place than it was in the 1960s and I’ll always be impressed by their spirit and tenacity—to move to the other side of the world without knowing a soul (or the language) is quite an achievement. If the coin toss went the other way, I might be writing this blog post for the Department of Citizenship and Immigration Canada!
Well, that’s my story and it would be great to read your stories in the comments below. You might also be interested to know the National Archives of Australia is developing a major national exhibition on Australian migration in 2014 called 'A Ticket to Paradise?'. If you’d like to be part of it check out the Destination: Australia website.