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Colin's Diary
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Colin's Diary
Who Are They?
These photographs were taken on board the Asturias in November 1948, by Pat Piggott. His wife Irene (Rene) and son Michael are pictured with other passengers. If you can identify them, please let us know.
If you have a story about travel on the SS Asturias we would love to publish it. Some people kept a diary of their voyage from the UK - others have stories about how they came to be on board, for example as children who believed they were orphaned only to find out later that they had a family in the UK.

Other passengers came from many countries, including Malta and Poland. Stories from these passengers would be most welcome.

Email your story for publication, including your full name and address, and a contact telephone number for verification (your contact details will not be published). The website administrator will let you know if anyone wants to contact you.
[Click on family name to see their page]
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WINDSOR (KEY) FAMILY

In 1949, 13 year old Ruby Windsor (nee Key) left Sheffield, UK, with her Grandmother, mother, sister and brother.  They were on their way to join her Grandfather who had migrated to Australia in 1921.  "It was a long-held dream for all of us to go and live in Australia ...."

 

DALY FAMILY

In July 1949 Beau Daly left Southampton with her three little children, Gillian - Gill (aged 3), Philip (aged 2) and baby Stephen (3 months).  They were on their way to meet their husband and father, George Daly, who had left the UK in 1948 on a Navy ship.  They would join him in Darling Harbour, Sydney, on the 28th August, after a long separation.  George presented Beau with a gold locket which remains in the family .....

 
HENCHLIFFE FAMILY

My family - Frank, Harriet and me (Derek, aged 12), left Derby early one November 1951 morning by train, through London and onwards to Southampton, to embark on our journey to Australia.  Having never been anywhere outside UK, it was indeed a voyage of adventure.....

 

SCARLETT FAMILY

In May 1952 Robert and Mary Scarlett came to Australia, with their two children Maureen and John, and Robert's widowed mother.  John went on to play Australian Rules football with Geelong and South Melbourne, and then his son Matthew with Geelong ....

 
GUNN FAMILY

On a cold, misty morning in August 1951, John and Lily Gunn and their two young children, John and Linda, left their house in Sutton Surrey, and travelled by taxi to the London Rail Station and began their long journey to Australia...... 

 

GREGORY FAMILY
Steve Gregory migrated on the SS Asturias in 1950, travelling with his parents Dim and Mick Gregory, and older brother David. His mother went on to join the "Good Neighbour Council" and met many migrant ships in Port Adelaide for many years after they settled in..... 
 
STEWART FAMILY
John Stewart, his brother and parents migrated to Fremantle in December 1950.  John has many vivid recollections of the voyage ... "The boat train from Kings Cross station took us to Southampton docks, alongside our home for the next three weeks, the HMT Asturias.  She was a troopship of 22,000 tons but from the dockside looked every bit as big as what I imaged the Queen Mary to be, a huge black bulk of steel that seemed to rise up forever.  Compared to the tramp colliers I was familiar with in Amble harbour, this was a totally awesome sight ..."
 
Tom Anthony was 13 in 1950 when his mother (Martha) and stepfather (David Moore) left Ireland and journeyed to Australia on the Asturias, together with his older brother David (aged 16) and young step-brother Matthew.  Tom's older brother, Crawford was 18 and did not want to make the journey.  Tom eventually settled in, working at many jobs.  After 50 years he travelled back to Ireland to see his brother for the first time since 1950.  His son Peter wrote a poem about Tom (Tit's) journey ...
 
Edward Lawrence was born in 1908 and Violet Bulmer (Henderson) was born in 1911 (both in Leeds).  They left Southampton on the Asturias in May 1948, arriving in Fremantle on the 16th May 1948. Edward was a bricklayer and building contractor and built his own property in Australia.  They lived in several places, including Sydney, and possibly Surfers Paradise in the early 1980s.
 
Edward was in a nursing home but his family in the UK lost contact with him.  His niece Valerie would love to find out more about them.....
 
DAVIES FAMILY
In May 1949, Michael (Mike) Davies, his parents and siblings left Birmingham, bound for Australia on the SS Asturias.  "On the 4th June 1949 we emerged from our month and a day of limbo between the old life and the new and said goodbye to the friends we had made, the Clements and Ferguson families. Initially we lived at the home of a nominator, a family whom my father had met when in Sydney during the war. That was at Engadine, a quiet little area with dirt roads, about 20 miles south of the city. After a short time we moved to a bush block where we roughed it in a cabin which Dad had built from old packing cases.....
 
WILKIE FAMILY
In November 1947 Hugh and Georgina Wilkie and their two daughters, Isobel and Christine (aged 8) left Rothesay, Isle of Bute on the west coast of Scotland to journey to Australia on the SS Asturias.  Within a month they were in an isolated migrant camp in Fremantle, on the Swan river, surrounded by gum trees, ant hills and mosquitoes.  They celebrated Christmas in sweltering heat, with a traditional roast lunch.  They then travelled to Melbourne - their final destination - changing trains at Kalgoorlie, Port Pirie and Adelaide.  Christine still remembers the trip across the Nullarbor ....
 
MOUNT FAMILY
On 7th July 1948 Leslie and Winifred Mount and their two children, Grenville (age 10) and Anthony (age 2) left Farndon on their journey to Australia.  They stayed overnight in London, boarding the Asturias on the 8th July.  Arriving in Melbourne they are taken by their sponsor to a farm in Colac, rural Victoria.  Leslie soon finds that his promised job has been given to someone else .... and his hunt for work and a house for his family begins.  He kept a detailed diary of their voyage from the UK and the first months after the arrival in Australia .....
 
In August 1949, Mary Azzopardi and her three sons, Tony (age 5), Roger (age 4) and Godwin (age 3) migrated to Australia from Malta, on the SS Asturias.  They were to join their husband and father, Edgar, who had arrived earlier to work on a farm in Narrawong, near Portland .....
 
LAVERTY FAMILY
Daniel Laverty was a crew member on the Asturias on its voyage in May 1948.  On board he met a passenger, Amy Longden.  He jumped ship in Fremantle to stay with her....
 
BARBER FAMILY
Ron and Freda Barber left their home in Brighton, England with their two children, Tony and Margaret, departing Southampton on the 11th May 1950.  They arrived in Perth on Foundation Day, 5th June 1950....
 
CLIFF SCHWERIN
My dad, Cliff Schwerin, travelled on the SS Asturias - not as a migrant on his way to Australia, but as a member of the RAAF in 78 Wing, which was deployed to Malta for garrison duty in 1952. Dad, at that time an LAC, took part in a farewell march through the streets of Newcastle on 27 June 1952 and departed with 78 Wing by train for Sydney, where they embarked on the SS Asturias......
 
THE TUBB FAMILY
Geroge and Lillian Tubb migrated to Australia with their two children, Charles [10] and Jacqueline [6] abord the Asturias, leaving Southampton in March 1952.  They were 10 Pound Poms and never regretted the move to improve their lifestyle from that of their post war years.  They did miss leaving their families and the England that they knew and liked.  They got off the ship in Sydney and caught the train up to Brisbane .....
 
THE HOWETT FAMILY
The Howett family - Charles, Doreen and their three children, Frank (aged 15), Gordon (aged 13) and Valerie (aged 5), left Southampton on the 5th November 1949 on the SS Asturias, for Sydney.  They were sponsored by descendants of their family who had travelled to Australia in the days of sail.  After living in cramped circumstances with their relatives for six months, Charles, a carpenter, purchased a block of land in Canley Vale.....
 
THE FREEMAN FAMILY
The Freeman family - Gordon, Ruby and their two sons Brian and Colin, migrated from Harrogate in Yorkshire to Australia in November 1951.  After a stay in the Bathurst Migrant Hostel and Finsbury Hostel they eventually settled in Adelaide, South Australia.  Both boys attended Adelaide University and went on to Post Graduate studies.  Colin spent six years in Papua New Guinea as Librarian of the New Guinea collection in the newly formed University of Papua New Guinea and has written three books on New Guinea topics.  He subsequently had a three year Diplomatic posting in the Embassy of Australia, Washington DC .....
 
THE WILKINSON FAMILY
In November 1948 Thomas and Millie Wilkinson and their two children, Gordon and Rosemary, travelled from Belfast via Liverpool then Southampton where they boarded the Asturias for their journey to Australia to settle in Geelong, Victoria. Thomas kept a very detailed diary of their trip which his family had bound and presented to him shortly before his death in 1989.  The diary contains many photos taken on board and vivid descriptions of their month at sea.
 
THE BAILEY FAMILY
Lynnette Fiddick (nee Bailey) was only 8 months old when she came to Australia with her young parents on the Asturias in August, 1948.   ”My mother was Australian and my father was English, serving in the Royal Navy when they met at the end of WW2. They married in Australia and my mother went to England as a war bride. I was born in England in November, 1947 and we arrived in Sydney in August, 1948. My parents were very young at the time, Mum was only 19 and Dad was 24 and they arrived in Sydney with only 15/- in their pocket.........
 
FR ROLAND OWENS
Rev Roland Owens was an Australian Military Chaplain in World War II.  He accompanied Australian soldiers returning home on the Asturias in June 1947.  During the voyage he wrote a poem about the children's concert and was persuaded by Catholic sisters to also write a poem about them ......
 
SR ANGELA MARY DOYLE AO
Sister Angela Mary Doyle was born in Cranny, County Clare, Ireland.  In 1947, at the age of 21, she journeyed to Australia to join the Brisbane Congregation of the Sisters of Mercy.  She travelled on the Asturias, together with nine professed Sisters and five girls.  Her early work was in teaching, but within a year of arriving in Brisbane she had commenced nursing at the Mater Hospitals in Brisbane.  Sr Angela Mary has been awarded the Order of Australia (1993), was Queenslander of the Year (1989) and has received numerous other awards for her contribution to society.  She kept a highly detailed and entertaining diary of her 5 week voyage and has kindly agreed to its publishing on the site .....
 
THE FORBES FAMILY
In January 1949 the Forbes family (William and Grace and their three children) from Mansfield, England, departed Southampton for Australia on the SS Asturias. During their 37 day voyage the family were often seasick and their son Ian (22 months old) was unwell for most of the time.
 
William Forbes kept a diary during the family's voyage to Australia.  From cheerful entries "lovely boat, lovely food" to less happy entries "heavy seas, stormy passage - all feeling crocky", the diary gives a wonderful insight into life at sea for 5 weeks.  William, Winifred Grace and their children Jean, Wendy and Ian arrived in Sydney on March 5 1949, to begin their new life....
 
THE FLOWERS FAMILY
Frank and Ada Flowers and their four daughters migrated to Australia under the '£10 pom' scheme and they arrived in Melbourne in March 1950.  Their brother Donald sailed on the ship "TSS Cameronia" from Glasgow. He was required to stay in England to finish his two year compulsory national service in the air force.  He joined the family in 1951.  The Flowers family lived with their sponsors on a berry farm at Wandin Yallock, Victoria, for a short time.
 
"It was a real culture shock; we had never seen an outside 'dunny' let alone used one, and there were only rain water tanks.  Water was scarce at that time and we had to use the same bath water as other family members.  The bathroom was outside in a shed, along with two troughs for washing clothes ......."
 
BON SCOTT
In 1952 Mr Charles Scott and his wife Isa along with their two sons Derek and Ronald (Bon) left the Scottish town of Kirriemuir to travel on the SS Asturias to a new life in Australia.  At the time no-one was to know that Ronald (then aged 6) would later go on to front one of the biggest rock bands of all time - AC/DC.
 
Thanks to Glenn Robertson for permission to use this information.
 
ANDREW CLARK HERD
Andrew "Sandy" Clark Herd (born 28 June 1902 in Torryburn, Fife) was a Scottish professional footballer.  A miner by trade, he started his senior career with Dundee in 1923.  He was signed by Hearts in 1927 in a 250 Pound transfer deal.  He spent ten seasons with the Tynecastle club, making 229 first team appearances.  His half-back combination with Alex Massie and John Johnston proved successful for Hearts, the trio proving a constant part of the side between 1930 and 1935 and eventually all three gained selection for the Scottish national team.  Herd retired in 1939 and emigrated to Melbourne, Australia, arriving with his family on the Asturias on 16 November 1946. (Source: Wikipedia)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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Passenger Stories
Pictured above: Colin Freeman and his family
 
"November 1951.  We were leaving the shores of England, our homeland, perhaps forever. We were a family of  “Ten Pound Migrants” - Mother, Father and two boys.   Myself, just turned fourteen and my brother Brian eight years, our final destination was Australia....."
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