BONEGILLA

There are many current living Australians that would owe there early history to Bonegilla. Bonegilla was, in the late forties and early fifties a refugee camp. Bonegilla today is a museum that is a must visit if in either Albury or Wodonga. The surviving Block 19 is the museum.

You can’t really appreciate Block 19 without first understanding its history. The army moved into the Bonegilla military camp and hospital in September 1940. Altogether, about 5,000 service men and women were based at the site at any one time.

After World War II, the Australian Government actively sought migrants/refugees to help populate Australia.

Between 1947 and 1971, over 300,000 migrants from more than 50 countries called Bonegilla their first "Aussie home." They arrived by train to Bonegilla railway siding where they were met, in the early days, by army personnel who provided transport, security and catering services. Because the migrant centre was initially run by the army, the military character of the buildings and routines remained long after the army left in 1949.

The first migrants to arrive at the migrant centre were displaced persons who had lived in refugee camps in Europe. About half of the 170,000 displaced people coming to Australia between 1947 and 1951 lived at Bonegilla.

In Bryce Courtney’s novel Four Fires the lead character collapses mentally and is treated semi-successfully by his childhood sweetheart, Anna Dumbrowski, now a respected psychiatrist. They later marry. Anna’s childhood years were at Bonegilla. There are four fires of our dreaming, the bushfire of our land's renewal, and the war fire of good men killing, the soul fire of a different God, and The fires of a consuming love.

When visiting the museum and taking in the contents of the letters and news articles fully paints the picture of the mindset and fear at that time in the worlds history.

 

 

 

 

 

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