My husband and I had never travelled overseas before we migrated to Australia. That was on March 1st 1966, my 24th birthday and just 64 days after we got married in the country of our birth, Malta. We arrived at Sydney Kingsford Smith international airport on a Boeing 707 KLM Royal Dutch Airlines Chartered Flight, which was mainly full of young newly-wedded couples, plus some single men and women, a few young children, and four elderly Maltese who were visiting their relatives in Australia. The flight from Malta to Sydney, Australia took us about 25 hours in all, which included three brief stops in Cairo, Egypt, Bangkok in Thailand, and Manila in the Philippines. We, and all the other couples migrating here with us, held no passport except for an official document (a sheet of paper) indicating our personal details as “British Subjects Citizens of Malta”. This document was taken from us by the Immigration Authorities on our arrival in Sydney. The migration agreement between Australia and Malta Governments at that time also made it easier financially for our group to come here. The very efficient and lovely KLM crew served us all champagne and canapés soon after our departure at 7.30pm local time. After our very sad departure from our dear families and friends, it was a strange, but exciting sensation boarding that plane with little knowledge of what really lay ahead for us on the way. Some among us had no idea about the political turmoil experienced by those in Egypt and the Middle East. Our flight path took us over Saudi Arabia, the Persian Gulf and the Arabian Sea, all at a safe distance away from known peripheries of war-prone areas. Next was flying over India where we experienced our first air-pocket, then on to Asia where we were so close to the war in Vietnam. This was followed by a diversion to the Philippines instead of flying over Indonesia to Australia.

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Beni
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