Arrival - What have we done?

We were tired and here was the end in sight – and we were to go to Rosewater. Everyone was upbeat, with such a lovely name it would be wonderful. … When the buses pulled up among the huge grey woolsheds there were exclamations of ‘This can’t be right!’
Lester Cannon, British migrant, Rosewater 1951, recorded 2010

Migrants’ first glimpses of their new country from harbours and airports were usually followed by a long train or bus journey. Arrival at the hostels often left a strong first impression. Some welcomed a safe place to lay their heads: for others the sight of the hostels was a worrying indication of the life to come. The tin huts and makeshift accommodation that greeted many when they arrived were a shock.

Adelaide appeared a small town to some migrants from large European cities. Others were struck by a new sense of space and light. For most, the hostels provided a base from which they could begin to orientate themselves and explore.

Were the hostels a first home in Australia, or a ‘holding place’ where people waited for real life to begin?


I arrived in South Australia in November 1967 with my parents Gilbert and Joan Tweedie, and my brother Andrew.

I was just enquiring if you took photos of the groups of arrivals at each camp? My family arrived then moved into Smithfield Camp.

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