Piet and Lisa and two daughters aged seven and five came on the Dutch migrant ship “Johann Van Oldenbarnveld” on the 5 September 1950. The ship was used as a troop ship that transported Dutch soldiers to Indonesia. Lisa writes that the ship had no cabins at the time. Men slept in one dormitory whilst women and children were in another. There were not many passengers on board as it was a trial run for the ship but the food and trip was good.
The ship arrived in Sydney mid-November 1950 where the passengers disembarked. After gathering information Lisa and family boarded a train bound for Bathurst where they were placed in a former army base now used as a migrant camp and given five blankets. The food was good and the children Tina and Marlies got special food.
After a little while another shipload of migrants came and Lisa and family were transferred and went to Broadmeadows, Newcastle where they again boarded buses and were taken to a new hostel between Nelson Bay and Shoal Bay. The new hostel had Nissan huts and they were provided with two rooms. There was a little beach which was so nice. The rent was a pound a week for food and accommodation. After a few months or more we rented a little cottage for two pound a week.
Lisa goes on to say that that she had read in a Dutch magazine in 1949 of the CWA so whilst at Shoal Bay she decided to join the organisation along with Ivy an Australian neighbour. The meetings were held in a room in a building owned by the Navy.
“The CWA held a birthday party in the local picture theatre at which a famous Australian soprano was the guest artist. To get to the party, we travelled in a little truck owned by Ivy’s brother-inlaw. Ivy sat next to the driver, whilst I sat in the open back on a little seat. We had also gone once to the movies the same way. We lived there for two years”.
“When Marlies had to go to school we went to Nelson Bay. When we enrolled Marlies we were told that there was a school at the hostel. Piet said that ‘we came to mix’ and after a few phone calls she was allowed to stay. Luckily some friends from the ship had rented a house at Nelson Bay and they told us that she could stay with them before school.”
“Later Piet bought a block of land at Warners Bay and we bought a big American army tent to live in as he was going to build a house for us. He built a floor on stilts and placed the tent on the floor. We had to use steps to get to the floor and enter the tent. We also had to build an outside toilet so that we could get the power connected. Piet built a double brick two bedroom home. That was our beginning.”
A regular reader of this magazine, Lisa Meuffels , of Richmond writes of the following memory of living in Migrant Camps.
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