Diary of a "Client" of a Replacement Counselling

23 Jun, 2011

First Days in Australia – real auntie writing

Posted by: Bianca Schlimm In: Job Search Campain

We disembarked in Port Melbourne on the 31st of May, 1959. On that same day a special train took us from Melbourne to Bonegilla (near Albury/Wodonga). The train was for the migrants who had come on S.S. STRAITHAIRD to Port Melbourne. Around lunch-time it stopped in the middle of nowhere. There were however two huts, where friendly Australian volunteer ladies were about to serve us a warm meal. One hut was designated for women and children, the other for men. In the huts there were long tables and benches set out for our lunch. The meal consisted of meat with three vegies: Potatoes, carrots and peas. The peas were straight away called ‘Kuller-Erbsen’ by some German migrants. They thought the peas weren’t soft enough; just good enough to be ‘kullert’ (rolled around)!

P. was most upset that he wasn’t allowed to sit with me and the children. ‘I could’ve helped you with the feeding of the babies,’ he said. ‘Why on earth wouldn’t they let me sit with you?’

Yes, I would have loved P to be with us for the meal. Nonetheless I felt that the feeding of the newcomers was well organised. I thought we ought to be thankful that they went to a lot of trouble to provide a warm meal for all of us. Strangely enough, I even liked the ‘Kuller-Erbsen’. The meat-rissoles were tasty and suitable to be fed to the babies. On top of it, they had allowed us enough time for our lunch. We did not feel rushed at all. – There were special chairs for all the babies! That gave me the feeling that Australians liked children. In Germany we had never seen a baby-chair in any public place. It shows, that the taking of babies to restaurants was definitely not encouraged in our home country.In the evening our train stopped at a siding close to the Bonegilla Migrant Hostel. It was still early evening, but already pitch dark. And we could immediately feel that it was going to be a very cold night.

At the Hostel P and I were given two rooms in one of the huts. In those rooms it felt freezing cold. However for heating there was an electric radiator in each of the rooms. We decided we would sleep with our two babies in one of the rooms only. There were plenty of Army blankets on the beds. We used some of the blankets for the windows to keep the cold out. Using both radiators for the one room we had no problem getting the room quite pleasantly warm.

Before bedtime we were given another hot meal in the huge dining hall. We were told every day we would get breakfast, lunch and dinner in the dining hall. We noticed there were plenty of baby chairs for all the little ones.

I remember for breakfast there was always semolina available, which was good for the babies. I very much liked it too! Most German grown-ups didn’t like it at all and would complain that this sort of food was served every morning. Nonetheless, this was not the only breakfast food. There was always toast and butter and jams as well as other hot cooked food, for instance baked beans, scambled or boiled eggs or fried eggs with bacon. And of course there was always hot tea as well as coffee. I thought we had really nothing to complain about!


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