After a stay in the migrant camp, which was a series of old Nissan huts and a communal food hall, we arrived at his new place of employment, Bunnings Mills. Bunnings had saw mills in several locations around W.A. This one was in Nyamup surrounded by natural bushland. The company actually constructed little communities in which the employees and their families could live. The road through town was gravel and the mill houses were timber with little front verandahs. They were basic but comfortable, we had beds and a couple of donated pieces of furniture but managed with wooden crates for dining chairs, and a larger timber crate as a table. We had a wood burning cooking stove, there was a huge rainwater tank outback of the house which we had to rely on for our water supply and of course, right down the end of the backyard was the essential little timber structure. For a small child, this was a big adventure but I’m not sure my poor mother saw it the same way. In the UK she had been used to an electric stove, running water and indoor loo. It didn’t help when, the first time she used the backyard facility she had a small visitor sitting next to her, watching. It was a goanna!!! I confess I was a bit scared of them till I got used to them.
I commenced Primary school and was happily travelling from the mill into town on an old school bus, meeting new friends and swapping stories of where we came from. (90% of the school were children of immigrants from many locations). Dad was enjoying his new job and making friends but poor Mum was having a much harder time getting used to the facilities. I don’t think she shared our enthusiasm for the new life at that point.
Our first Christmas was the hardest. Being away from family, we had been invited to the Community hall for a Bunnings Christmas. Children were given gifts by the company and happily played, the men chatted. It was fun. Unfortunately, the invitation said, “bring a plate”, so my parents, being their first year, brought a plate each plus a cup and cutlery, thinking the mill may be short on those too. No one advised them that there was supposed to be food on the plate to share. An embarrassing introduction to the Aussie tradition of “bring a plate”. Everyone was very nice about it and it became a source of good-natured humor. We got it right the second year, hahahahahaha …
The move to Australia was the best idea my parent ever had. They eventually got to own their own home, with indoor plumbing, plus they got a car. My sisters and I got an education and made our lives here. We have been very happy.