Nissen huts, boiled mutton, bottled milk and helping hands are just some of the memories post-war immigrants have shared in A Place to Call Home? Migrant hostel memories which exhibit at the Hinkler Hall of Aviation from 9 November.
For many migrants after World War II, for better or worse, hostels were their first homes.
National Archives curator Amy Lay said the exhibit rekindles memories with vivid photographs of life in Australia’s migrant hostels.
“While this latest exhibition is based around photographs held in our collection, it is these human recollections, both good and bad, that bring it to life,” she said.
“People recalled the tastes, the sights and smells (including the ‘rotten' scent of mangoes) which, on our companion website Destination: Australia, evoked memories and strong responses from other immigrants.
“Such memories, with their depth of personal emotion and culture shock, give us an insight into what it meant to cross the world in hope of a new life.”
At the end of World War II, the Australian Government believed the nation needed a larger population if it was to survive and grow.
As well as welcoming displaced persons, it launched a major campaign to entice other immigrants to Australia, and Bundaberg became the centre of migrant settlement on the central Queensland coast.
More than 7.5 million immigrants have arrived in Australia since World War II and about 2000 migrants called Bundaberg home.
While some returned to their country of origin, the vast majority who came to Australia chose to remain, enriching the nation's cultural diversity and leading to this exhibition on migrant life post World War II.
“With hundreds of thousands of new arrivals, housing was at a premium,” Amy said.
“Former army and air force camps were converted into hostels to provide temporary accommodation while immigrants found homes and jobs.
“The images were taken by government photographers and used to promote Australia overseas as an ideal destination.”
Today about 46 per cent of Australians were either born overseas or have at least one parent who was.
The exhibition will be held at the Hinkler Hall of Aviation from 9 November to 6 December. The Hinkler Hall of Aviation is open daily from 9am to 3pm.
For more information about the exhibition click here.