Remembering the hostels

Very little remains on the sites of the former migrant hostels. A few physical structures remain, including a Nissen hut in Glenelg and buildings at Semaphore, though most were demolished or moved. At Elder Park and Mallala there is a mention of the migrant hostel on site history plaques.  Charles Sturt Council has established a memorial garden on part of the site that was the Pennington Hostel.

With few physical reminders of hostels, many former residents have only their memories. Memories can shift and change, and are often coloured by the life that has followed.

Those who were children often remember the freedom of hostel life and friendships formed. But comments about ‘mum crying a lot’ suggest the experience might have been different for parents, and particularly women.

Migrant hostels played a vital role in South Australia’s history, yet until now the story has remained largely untold. Our understanding of the hostel story continues to evolve, shaped by contributions of those who lived in the hostels.

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