• My beautiful Dad went to Rome on 24th April, 1962 to apply for migration to Melbourne, Australia. He was only 19yrs old.
  • This amazing postcard is of the school my Dad went to. It was sent to him with lots of love by his Zia Elisabetta and Zio Luigi who Dad was close to growing up. They adored Dad.
  • Dad's original passport dated March, 1962.
  • An image I found of the ship 'Roma' that Dad came to Australia on in May, 1962.
  • A life buoy picture I discovered from Dad's ship 'Roma'.
  • Dad lived at 14 George Street, Dandenong when he first arrived in Australia.
  • Photograph si658
  • Photograph si653
  • Photograph si654
  • Photograph si655
  • Photograph si656
  • Photograph si657
  • Photograph si652

Dad recalls how when he did something wrong, Nonno would chase after him saying "come back, I love you". Dad while still running would yell back, "if you love me, why are you chasing me"? Nonno wasn't mad at Dad, he was upset for other reasons. Dad went to school for a short time, but then as a teenager he found work and his boss loved him. He tells me how he would run home for lunch, eat and then run back as he didn't want to to be late or let anyone down. When he got back to work the other workers would still be eating. Food was scarce in those days, so when you saw it, you ate and fast or someone else would.

He had lots of friends, but his best friend was Luigi Rotundo who he has never forgotten and still talks about. They loved climbing the olive trees and going to the beach and getting up to a little mischief. Unfortunately, after my Nonno passed away things were more difficult at home. Only a few years later, Dad at 19yrs old would have to leave for his journey to Australia. On the 5th May, 1962, he said goodbye to Nonna at his family home and then left for the Naples dock with a family friend. It was heartbreaking for both of them. He boarded the ship 'Roma' and left for his new life. Surrounded by strangers who were all feeling the same, they comforted each other, ate together and talked about their future new life. There was a photographer on board who took pictures and a day or two later they could be purchased and Dad did, thankfully.

The voyage was long and tiring, but the ship finally arrived on 31st May, 1962 at Station Pier in Port Melbourne. It had first past through Freemantle, Western Australia. Dad remembers it being around dusk. He told me that friends from his hometown in Bitritto, Bari who had arrived in Australia earlier came to greet him with open arms. He was so happy to see someone that he knew.

He was first welcomed into the home of an amazing lady named Giustina who even though had her own family, took care of Italian migrants. This was at 14 George Street in Dandenong. She helped them to settle in and encouraged them to look for work.  Dad found a job after a few weeks at the Ordish Brick Works on Stud Road, Dandenong. It must have been so hard for him with not knowing anyone or not being able to speak English, but he was a hard worker and they could see that. When I talk to Dad about this adventure, his eyes swell up with tears, as the memory is so fresh as if it was only yesterday.

Story details

Country of origin: 
Share on social media: