A Migrant Story
Station Pier and the ship Johan van Oldenbarnevelt have something in common. Both were completed in 1930 and both often met during and after the Second World War.
During the war, the JvO was used as a troop ship and ferried many Australian and American soldiers from their shores to and from England. It survived the war unscathed and was subsequently chartered by the Australian Government to transport migrants to Australia.
My family was among the many Dutch migrants that enjoyed the comfort of this ship.
The family ran a Bakery in one of the main streets of Groningen. We lived behind the shop and our bedrooms were on the 1st floor behind the flats shown. It was a rented property. The photo of my mother must have been taken in the late 1930’s as later we had a different phone number.
The photo of the street is from the late 1940s early 50’s. You can just make out a square clock on the right. It was on the front of our building. My Dad always said that installing the clock was something he regretted as it led to many complaints about the accuracy of the time but it did bring customers into the shop.
In March 1951 the family secured visas from Australia House in The Strand, London. We embarked on the JvO in Amsterdam and left for Australia on March 28. After a wonderful and exciting journey, for a 16 year old, we arrived in Port Melbourne on May 3 and berthed at Station Pier.
We settled in Frankston. These small family photos were taken in 1952 in front of our rented house in Jasper Terrace. Dad had got it as a reward for taking up employment as a baker. Skilled workers were hard to find at the time.
The family built this house in Frankston in 1960. Mum lived there until she died in 1992. Dad died in 1961.
To bring the story full circle, Kathleen and I moved to Bridge Street, Port Melbourne in 1996. We enjoyed almost two decades here before Kathleen died in September 2015. In June, 2016 I visited Groningen. Not much has changed in the street where the family Bakery was, although there are no longer any shops on that side of the street. Our son, Paul, now works at the University of Groningen and lives in the same street where I was born.