I was nine years old in 1956. It had been one of the coldest winters on record in Holland. Comfortably sitting in front of the fire in the living room, my parents told me we were migrating to Australia. Posters said blue sky and sun. In March 56 everything was packed in one huge wooden crate. I used the crate as a cubby house afterwards. See our passport photos. I didn't realise I was leaving people and places - most of them forever. I have only photos to trigger memories: the comfortable house in Arnhem. I was born in that second room with the big window. Photos at kindergarten, street where I learned to ride a scooter, the family photo with dog, a boxer called Porto. Oh yes, there is my primary school across the road. My teacher wrote 'draw strength from your roots': Houd hoog jouw land en stad, Waar jij ter wereld kwam In April 56 we took a train journey to visit relatives. I recited the names of Dutch towns along the railway line from Arnhem to Akkrum. Stations loomed as the train swayed through mist. I saw the canals and the flat, green open land. I embraced grandparents, Oma Koch and Pake Harsta. I didn't understand I would not see them again. It was stuffy in our cabin on the Johan van Olden Barneveldt but we had a porthole to let in sea air. Children were captive in the bowels of the ship. Five tedious weeks at sea were disrupted by seasickness, the journey through the Suez Canal and day excursions to Port Said and Aden. I vividly recall the elephants, the crowds, heat and a bus tour to the pyramids. I saw black and brown children, my age, begging in the streets. Cigarettes! In Fremantle I practiced my first English words. "Ice cream please". This language was different. In May 56 we disembarked in Melbourne as ALIENS. We caught a train to Adelaide. I had no idea where I was. The view from the train was a strange wide, dry brown land. In the wet winter of 1956 we lived in a Nissan Hut at the Woodside Army Barracks. Enter the world of gre

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Tina Koch
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