• Photograph si950

When they landed in Fremantle, Western Australia, a kind gentleman bought them an ice cream and milkshakes. Mum was very weak from the trip and she cried at the kindness. "The taste! After years of deprivation and the rough journey over." After docking in Sydney came the long train trip to Greta Camp near Maitland. Arriving in the middle of summer, basic army style facilities, huts with no lining, no heating in winter, poor drainage and next to no privacy. All cooking was done in a central kitchen, line up, hold out your plate and move on. The rooms were basic. Two iron beds pushed together. The walls thin, with all the noise from the outside or the neighbours coming in, laughing, talking, fighting, yelling. Mice, cockroaches, scrabbled in the dark. In the beginning, Mum could just sit there, no radio, nothing to even make a cup of coffee, nothing to nibble on, no money to buy anything; just fatty mutton stew. That’s all there was. When Dad brought home his first pay, and they bought a jug and a little coffee, Mum cried. Then Mum was able to walk up to the little shop occasionally. And once she did that, she began to venture further out. She spoke of the man who was the supervisor, he was kind, would say hello, be a person to talk to. And bit by bit they got through.

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