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Monday, 4 June 2012

19. A Courage of Farewells.

In 1929 Bert and Nell applied and were accepted as assisted migrants to Australia under a scheme that gave a high priority to English migrants with agricultural skills.

Nell, Grace & Sylvia with Nell's mother, Kate
In the weeks before leaving they visited family, taking photos that would be their main memory and link to their roots throughout their lives. Nell collected photos of most of her family. Some of them, like the one here, taken by Albert with his Brownie Box camera.

Photos were taken of the family with Bert's mother.

The most homely photo is of Bert's mother having tea in their council house. The photo was taken by Albert with his box camera.

It was a hard time for Bert's mother. Her two youngest children were already in Australia and her eldest son was now leaving as well.

Bert and Nell, with their children Albert, 16, Grace 14, and Sylvia 3, left the Port of London on the Orontes on 25 October1929, the day after the collapse of the stock exchange and two months before Australia suspended assisted migration because of the Great Depression.

They brought very little with them. Bert, however, brought a machine for knitting socks - perhaps justified as a practical measure, but more likely because of its mechanical and engineering interest.

The Orontes went via Suez and Fremantle to Sydney. It was its first voyage as a migrant ship. Launched the same year, The Orontes had its maiden voyage in June 1929 cruising the Mediterranean before being fitted out to take migrants to Australia.

Sylvia, aged 3, does not appear on the immigration form in Fremantle, but does appear on the quarantine form. Their address in Australia is listed as Kingsway, Miranda, the address of the sponsoring nursery.

Orontes arriving in Fremantle

While the family was looking around Fremantle, the cautious and law-abiding Bert was stopped and cautioned by a policeman for jay-walking - his first experience in Australia! At least in later years, Bert and Nell would tell the story and laugh.

Ted and Nell made friends with two couples on board, Jack and Jessie Harris and the Taylors, neither of whom had children. They kept in touch once they reached Sydney and remained friends throughout the rest of their lives.

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