The story of the many European families that passed through Benalla's migrant camp will be recorded before it is lost.November 30, 2012 12:00am
More than 60,
‘‘I have been thinking for a while that if we don’t act soon, eye-witness accounts of this important chapter of local history will be lost forever,’’ long-time Benalla resident Sabine Smyth said.
‘‘This is why I am now beginning a project to collect and preserve the personal stories about the migrant camp. I am really excited that Benalla Rural City has made available a portion of BARC Hut 11 for an exhibition in January and February 2013.
‘‘This local history project, which will be launched at an afternoon tea on Australia Day, January 26, is aiming to showcase old photos and some of the stories of the migrant families I am able to trace.
‘‘Ideally this is the beginning of a growing collection. I would also love to see a plaque commemorating camp residents’ names as part of my project.
‘‘I am looking for the names and contact details of anyone who lived in the camp. But I am also keen to talk to people who worked at the camp as teachers, nurses, childcare workers or people who ran programs there,’’ Mrs Smyth said.
‘‘I have already found out that the Benalla Rovers Soccer Club started with migrants from the camp, and so did the Girl Guides, so their records will be of great historical interest to me.’’
Mrs Smyth said she felt that historical photos of the Victorian Railways could also be a ‘‘treasure trove’’, as many migrants arrived here from Melbourne by train via Seymour, where they had a meal break.
‘‘Although both our local history groups and Jenny Campbell of U3A are contributing information from their own research work, there is not much information around so far.
‘‘I am looking for anyone in the Benalla and District community — as well as in Mansfield and Wangaratta, or further afield — who might still have old photos and memorabilia from that time,’’ Mrs Smyth said.
‘‘Old maps of the site, newspaper clippings, original suitcases and letters — it is all pure gold to me.’’
Mrs Smyth said her work was fuelled by her admiration for the migrants who came out to Australia after the war.
There are many stories of war and hardship on top of what she believes is ‘‘the incredible adjustment that has to happen when you leave behind your country and culture, your entire past and language’’.
‘‘These people are all heroes, groundbreakers as far as I am concerned. They chose Australia for a better life, but it was no bed of roses when they first arrived, it was hard work,’’ she said.
‘‘They did not ask for, nor get, special treatment.’’
Mrs Smyth said we needed to acknowledge this was an important time for Benalla, and that the diversity we have in our community today largely came from the Benalla Migrant Camp. She said we need an authentic, honest place to remember their stories forever — and it would be wonderful if one day it could be at the BARC huts in its own permanent display.
Contact Sabine Smyth on 0439
Five shopfronts and a car were damaged following a spate of vandalism on St Georges Rd.
At the presentations located at the half-way mark of YMGCR's Lake Course, PGA Legends Co-Ordinator Andy Rogers said, "It's been a great three days.
Tatura’s rainfall for the last three months of 2015, 116.6mm, was marginally down on the long-term average for the same period, 120.8mm.
A FESTIVAL aimed at high school students will be held in Echuca next month.
ROCHESTER has welcomed a new family into the community this year.
More of the districts newest preps
No end to V/Line's troubles
The Finley community will always remember the tremendous Trevor Hendy, who was friends with everyone.
TOOLLEEN Recreation Reserve Committee of Management presented three awards on Australia Day in front of 80 local residents.
Cobram’s Adriana Fazio has battled cancer for the past seven years and is now one of the faces of the Fight Cancer Foundation’s fundraising efforts
World War II veteran Max Gunn reflects on town's historic recognition.
There’s been a big win for SPC and Australian tomato growers.
The News magazines are online - read high quality magazines in your time. Check in regularly for the latest editions.
Riverine Herald's well regarded locally produced magazines. They're now online, so you can read them whenever and wherever you like.
Search for published and unpublished photos from McPherson Media Group newspapers and magazines. All our photos are available to purchase.
Place an advertisement in any one of McPherson Media Group's local newspapers.