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Remember the Migrant Hostels of Adelaide?

Recently on Adelaide Remember When Facebook website, famous Adelaide singer and songwriter Beeb Birtles (Zoot and LRB) posted a photo and shared some of his early memories of time spent with his high school friend and fellow band member of Zoot, John D’arcy at the Glenelg Migrant Hostel.

Thousands of newly arrived migrants passed through these migrant hostels, situated around Adelaide from the late 1940s to the 1980s, including such well-known figures as former Prime Minister Julia Gillard, Lt Governor Hieu Van Le, LRB’s Glen Shorrock and rock singer Jimmy Barnes, to mention but a few.

Photo from the Migration Museum SA. The Glenelg Migrant Hostel where John D'Arcy first arrived in Adelaide

Photo from the Migration Museum SA. The Glenelg Migrant Hostel where John D’arcy first arrived in Adelaide

In South Australia there were migrant hostels at Elder Park, Gawler, Gepps Cross, Glenelg, Hendon, Mallala, Pennington/Finsbury, Rosewater, Salisbury, Semaphore, Smithfield, Woodside and Woodville. The hostels were temporary homes for a wide range of people, some escaping from a war devastated Europe, refugees and right through to “Ten Pound Poms”, all looking for a new beginning in Australia.

Some of the comments from those who viewed Beeb’s post and photographs showed that life was not always easy in the hostels. Many consisted of clusters of World War 2 Nissen Huts or vacant government buildings, once used for other purposes (e.g. former army barracks and ‘Cheer Up’ entertainment huts from the World Wars). Sometimes the hostels were located in cheaper industrial suburbs or on the very outskirts of the city and the Federal Government considered that it was not bound by State health inspection and pricing regulations. Living conditions were basic with no heating or cooling and at times caused a great deal of dissatisfaction.

One poster recalled “My parents, two sisters and I lived in the Glenelg Migrant Hostel from mid to late 1963. My family emigrated from Spain and moved to the Glenelg Hostel from the Bonegilla Migrant Hostel in Victoria”.

She wrote about the vivid memories of her time there. “My younger sister and I walked to Our Lady of Fatima School and our lunches were made in the canteen and carried in a brown paper bag. Our English was minimal then and I remember ordering a “honey” sandwich thinking I had ordered meat. Got a big surprise at lunch time and I guess the lady in the canteen must have thought the order was strange too”.

She also remembered her father taking photos to send back to the family in Spain, “I remember there was an empty fountain with a kangaroo in the middle which we girls climbed on to be photographed, just to confirm that we were indeed in Australia! Great memories!”

Photo from the Migration Museum SA. Pennington Hostel at Finsbury

Photo from the Migration Museum SA. Pennington Hostel at Finsbury

Others did not have such pleasant memories though, as one poster recalled; “Pennington Migrant Hostel (Finsbury) 1964, ‘Come to Finsbury, come to Finsbury it’s a place of misery. There is a sign that bids you welcome, so welcome unto thee. Don’t believe it, don’t believe it it’s a pack of dirty lies, there’s cockroaches in the bathrooms and the rooms are full of flies’ That little ditty was commonly sung”. He concluded “However, I am sincerely grateful for the opportunities I found in Australia and to the wonderful people I know as my wonderful fellow Australians. There is no better country!”

65 Responses to Remember the Migrant Hostels of Adelaide?

  1. Peter H December 14, 2014 at 3:55 am #

    When my mum’s family emigrated from England in 1959 they were originally put in the Rosewater hostel.

    • Pauline byllaardt June 26, 2022 at 8:50 pm #

      Yes Bingham family lived there in
      Flat in 1954 came on ss stratheden

  2. Helen Szafer January 6, 2015 at 6:11 am #

    I have researched and blogged about a number of Victorian drinking fountains in Australia and several in the Adelaide Area.

  3. Pamela King September 25, 2015 at 9:28 am #

    I stayed at Pennington Hostel in 1973 after paying a £10 passage from the UK. I remember taking a little bucket with cutlery everyday to the communal canteen, dreading having a shower as there were always spiders, moths and a variety of insects hanging around in there. The food was so bad that our main diet was jelly! Even the bread never seemed fresh and one day it was closed because of a cockroach infestation, they were literally running all over the floor and crawling up onto your body as you sat eating your breakfast! The rooms were very small and I would liken them to a Nissan hut for war prisoners. I became terribly depressed in there, but looking back the Australian government were keeping me and my husband until we found work and could afford to stand on our own feet as we arrived with virtually nothing. Our one crate of belongings were in transit and we had £100 between us. It was certainly an experience I will never forget but it did not do me any harm.

    • William K Sansom September 30, 2019 at 6:22 am #

      I was there in 1972 and couldnt wait to get out of that place.horribke not a very welcoming start to a new in adelaiide for a year.then did princess highway to victoria.stated 18 months in traraldon morwell.then lived in nsw which i a place called st mary nesr around mout druid .parramatta.loved it there.met some liovely people especially my aussie boss harry

  4. Stefan November 30, 2015 at 1:21 pm #

    I arrived at Glenelg Hostel in December, 1969 at the age of 16 with my parents. We had migrated from England and stayed in the hostel for 12 months before moving to Sydney. I have some very fond memories of my stay there but long ago lost contact with the friends I made at the hostel.
    We often went to the local beach and into Glenelg. Because at 16 I could drive I would borrow my dad’s car and my friends and I would explore further afield.

    • Sandra Wilson December 21, 2022 at 11:30 am #

      I stayed in the Glenelg hostel in 1961 for a year with my mum and dad sister and two brothers at the age of 9. We then moved to Seacliff for 4 years and then returned to England. I went to st Leonard’s primary school and then on to seacome high school.

  5. Denise scriven May 10, 2016 at 6:51 am #

    my parents and my brother and I arrived in finsbury park when we emigrated from Scotland in 1959. I remember the Nissan huts and the toilet block. Also the dining room which was a huge Nissan hut. We went to finsbury park school and we all sang the song come to finsbury. It went come to finsbury come to finsbury when you get there there’s a signpost saying welcome unto thee. Don’t believe it don’t believe it, it’s a place of misery …… We were there for a year and then moved to Queensland where we still are. Australia is a great country but mum hated the heat.

    • K G Ramsey August 23, 2020 at 10:10 am #

      Arrived in Fremantle 1960 from Plymouth on the ms fairsky
      Train journey to Adelaide then a bus to finsbury/Pennington, my mother cried
      pretty grim like an unfinished Butlins POW camp, good fun though, stayed for 3 mnths then moved to a house in rose park suburb. Mum loved that
      Dad had a job at Harris Scarf Dept store which he didn’t like, Mum loved Australia, Dad didn’t he was a whingey POM. We returned to uk in 1962, still miss Aussie land

      • k G ramsey April 2, 2022 at 3:39 am #

        A great website
        p[ease update while we’re still alive!

    • K G Ramsey May 12, 2024 at 9:39 am #

      We arrived at Finsbury late 1959
      Parents hated it
      As I kid it was a camping adventure not as bad as many say
      Dad ended up getting a job that provided a house,
      Mum much happier
      Mum and I loved Australia, dad couldn’t hack it whingey Pom
      Sadly We returned Tito uk 2 years later
      Mum & I missed our great adventure spoke about it until she sadly passed

  6. Jeanette Keen June 23, 2016 at 10:22 pm #

    We arrived in Adelaide on December the 8th 1971 and were taken to Glenelg Hostel, It was very Basic but I guess as an 8 year old It was more of an adventure for me. I remember the Deli, the Canteen where they always served fish and Chips on a friday for dinner, there was a shower/toilet block which is similar to when you go camping. I remember the Laundry block where you washed your clothes and the ironing room where my teenage brother hung out and smoked with his new friends. The lounge room had one settee which turned into a bed for mum and dad, my room came off that, and then my brothers room led off of my room, so it was just one room connected to another, and only one way out. There was a reck room where they would hold a disco sometimes 🙂 we were 10 pound poms. Oh I nearly forgot, we rented our TV from the Deli, where we could also change our Pounds we received from English relatives for Chrismas for Au$ would love to hear from anyone lived there around the same time

    • George Edwards October 24, 2017 at 1:06 pm #

      I was there with my wife Elaine and son Lucas in January 1971. Not sure of my hut number though. We made friends with Sam & Eileen Hutchison. Not sure if we ever met.

      • Sonia April 15, 2018 at 7:38 pm #

        We arrived there on 21st February 1971. We came from Jersey Channel Islands but we went to England to immigrate. I was 6 my brother 7 my parents Sonia and Ken Bouchere were in their mid 20s.. i remember everything about Pennington we eventually bought a house at Prospect. My brother and I went to the school they provided. It was very clean in the little huts. We stayed there 12 months till my parent got their deposit for our house. I loved it but i did suffer with nightmares..

    • Lisa Taylor November 22, 2020 at 6:56 am #

      Hi Jeanette, My name is Lisa and I also arrived at the Glenelg Hostel same yr as you, the month was around August. I remember the canteen/dinning hall, it was lovely, yes remember the fish and chips on a certain day, the house we stayed in had 3 bedrooms, they all ran off of each other. My dad was working in the city of Adelaide, I remember also there was a bus which collected the school kids and returned them to the hostel after school. There was also a fence around the whole complex, and when you drive in the main gate there was a big banner, cant remember what it said, do you? I came over on the concord plane. I was born in Leicester England along with my 4 siblings. Kind regards, Lisa

  7. Joy August 19, 2016 at 2:09 pm #

    I didn’t live in a hostel (I was born in Australia) however I have fond memories of being at school with “hostel kids” from Pennington. As students at Mansfield Park Primary and Angle Park High it was an honour to be chosen to be a ‘helper” for a friend from overseas, helping some to learn English and show them around etc. Sadly the friendships came and went as these children moved to housing in other areas. I think the experience shaped my life as I have always been interested in other cultures.

    • Deb June 23, 2017 at 11:32 pm #


    • Mario Jaspers January 27, 2023 at 6:20 am #

      Hello Joy, only just saw your post while doing some research. i was 7 y.o when we arrived at Finsbury Hostel in May 1965. I went to school at Mansfield Pk P.S straight into grade 3 & stayed until finishing grade 7 in 1969 but i don’t remember a lot about the first couple of years there. Can’t recall if i had a “helper” or if i went to English classes at the Hostel before i started school. Then went on to Angle Park Boys Tech H.S for 4 years afterwards. What years were you at Mansfield Park & Angle Park ??

  8. Richard Hamm February 20, 2017 at 4:53 am #

    Our family arrived in Finsbury in May 1961 and my parents spent the next 2 years saving to return to England. My Dad made some of the money by making boomerangs and painting them with primitive designs -selling boomerangs to the Aussies was his greatest achievement! I’m now 60 and taking my mother’s weekly letters and recording her stories (she’s an active 90). watch this space

    Richard Hamm

    • Andy January 21, 2018 at 8:48 pm #

      Hahaha! selling boomerangs to the Aussies, that’s great!
      Did you stay in Oz Richard?
      We stayed at Glenelg hostel for a while in 1965. It was good to get out of the place. I don’t think it was meant to be luxurious or nobody would have left. As soon as mum and dad and my brother got jobs and we could afford to leave, we moved to Clearview which was like paradise.
      Being only 12, it was all a big adventure for me.

      • Cynthea August 11, 2018 at 1:05 pm #

        What year did you leave glenelg andy

    • Mary cherry April 10, 2020 at 6:10 am #

      My family went to Finsbury Park in 1959 my dad worked at woomera rocket range went on Sunday evenings and came back on Friday night there was 4. Hildren and it meant my mother enomalso worked at Lucas was left with us 4 all week which must have been very hard like your family my parents decided to come back to England in1963 as my mother was really homesick I only really have good memories I now live I. Spain

      • Lillian nee Simpson February 21, 2024 at 5:10 am #

        Hi we arrived early 1960. Mum dad 4 girls and brother, mum started work in canteen, my sister and I started work in the fruit factory Bookers or Brookers dad also was drivers there, then he went to work in Womerer the rocket range. We later moved to Gepps Cross till our 2 years were up then we came back to Coventry, so many memories

      • Roger Timmins March 6, 2024 at 7:55 pm #

        Hi Mary, we arrived in 1959 aboard SS Orion. I was 8 with my older brother and 3 sisters. Like you my dad (Alan Warder) worked at Woomera but we had moved to Port Augusta by then. I still remember what to my parents dreadful conditions buts as kids we never really noticed. I still have my report card from Pennington School. I remember the canteen and collecting my crib bag for my school lunch. What a difference it is today. I’m now in my 70’s living in UK and often look back on what to us kids was a fantastic adventure

  9. allan kempster September 8, 2017 at 3:44 pm #

    My name is Allan Kempster
    I was 4 years old when we arrived in Australia (1st of January 1951) and were then housed in Rosewater Hostel .
    I have vivid memories of the place .

    We were assigned a ‘room’ for the 4 of us in the family , my elder brother Carl, myself, and my parents May and Alf

    We could watch the tide rise and fall through the slatted floor. There was a basic ‘shop’ in one corner where limited basics could be purchased, ( if you dropped your change , chances are it was retrieved later by my brother when nobody was looking and he went for a crawl under the floor)

    We were housed in wool storage sheds, (not to be found in any records at the housing trust on my last investigation).

    For us kids , it was a great adventure, but i have distinct memories of many disgruntled adults wishing that they had never met the place.

    Our second abode was D30b Gepps Cross Hostel.
    The hostel shop was owned and run by William P. Wicker who later became my mothers( May) employer.
    He made us very welcome in our new country, as did his business partner Alan Maddock who ran the post office .
    We enjoyed many outings with our new found family.

    We were some of the second or third wave of ‘boat people’ and many of us embrace the arrival of later arrivals, and are sympathetic to the fact that the current accommodation is not up to certain standards. e.g. the air conditioning may not be the latest! wear a damp towel around your neck or put on an extra jumper.
    The t.v. set has too small a screen!take a walk outside and look at the relatively unpolluted air .and breathe the free air .The jobs i am qualified to do are not available here. try a change of vocation etc. etc………..

    We arrived in a fantastic country which has so many opportunities .
    grab them with both hands and don’t let go if you don’t succeed at your first attempt.there are more out there.

    Allan Kempster .

    • bev bates January 17, 2018 at 7:01 pm #

      hi allan just read about you being in the same hostels came to australia in 1951 with my mum and dad then next hostel was gepps cross

    • Patricia Smith June 7, 2018 at 8:12 pm #

      Hi allan … Just found this site … I arrived from UK with my family as a 6 year old New years eve 1951.. We were placed in Finsbury Hostel in 1952 … We were lucky we got 2 rooms .. There was my parents, my older sister & my younger brother … I remember the trouble of men coming into the camp angry & accusing the adults of stealing their work .. My father sat outside with a large piece of wood .. There were some violent times .. One young Maltese or Greek man was beaten to death & left in one of the ditches … Scary days .. As you said .. no air conditioning for us either but plenty of flies .. No heating in winter .. TV ?? .. Never heard of it in those days .. My mother worked in the kitchen & we used to get our brown paper bags of sandwiches for lunch at school … ( Called cribs ) … Dad made friends with an Aussie family while working in the building trade . We never looked back as we were introduced to cream puffs, lamingtons & BBQs … These days are long gone but the memories are still there … We thought we had struck gold when the Government housed us in a brand new 3 bedroom semi- detached housing trust house with a large closed in garden … … So much to tell …

    • John McGregor December 5, 2018 at 4:56 pm #

      G’day, Allan Kempster…I remember you as being one of the original contributors to ‘Tin Huts & Memories’. It’s now out again on an expanded two disc set suitable for viewing on a computer or T.V. set. It was nice to see your name come up again. Regards, John McGregor.

    • Jacqueline Shields (Gunner) January 31, 2021 at 8:21 pm #

      Jim and Hilda Gunner and the twins Jacqueline and Rodney lived at Gepps Cross Hostel. Great friends with the Kempsters who moved to Modbury when our family did. Remember Rex, the gorgeous collie. Auntie May was a fabulous caring kind lady.

  10. Sean S November 25, 2017 at 12:02 am #

    My parent immigrated to Adelaide from the UK in October 1971. We were housed in an an immigration hostel in Clovercrest. We were there for a few months until our house was built in Para Hills East. Great memories of exploring the empty paddocks, creeks, and the new construction of the suburb in the hot Adelaide summer.

  11. malcolm nicholls January 30, 2018 at 6:30 am #

    We arrived from England in 1964 to FINSBURY HOSTEL. ( I was 10 years old, my brother 6). The whole experience was surreal for a lad from London, but I liked the hostel. My Dad, still going strong 92 yrs young, thought he’d been given a fair dinkum chance . No government here was giving anyone an opportunity to accommodate their family ‘ till they could get set up. We moved to Semaphore Park and rented a nice new bungalow. We didn’t stay long enough,3 years, I guess my dad had itchy feet. I would like to say that he thought the Australians were straight talking and honest, and that he was treated very fairly. He liked the fact that they would ask your first name at work, and not judge you by which school you attended. We should have stayed!

    • gale arnold August 19, 2018 at 6:11 am #

      HI MALCOLM , our family was in finsbury in 1964 , i will ask my mother if she remembers a nicholls family , we was the arnold family , len was my dads name and audrey my mother , my sister and i was 2 and 4 years old at the time and ended up living in northcote drive , para hills west , then back to the uk early 1970s …. gale

      • Dawn sparks / Johnson March 12, 2023 at 3:46 pm #

        Hi my family came to Australia in 1964 on the Castel Felice .I was 6 my sister 3 , we stayed at the Finsbury hostel not sure how long for then my parents bought a house in Elizabeth fields when there were fields behind us,We used to walk to the broad meadows railway station to go places because we never had a car .Dad rode his bike to the G.M.H factory, and we all rode bicycles and caught bus’s every where.

  12. Susan James March 15, 2018 at 3:07 am #

    My parents emigrated with me aged 10 in 1971. We went to Pennington Hostel first and then moved on to Glenelg Hostel. I went to St Leonards school and loved it and everything about Australia! We moved to Seacliff for a while. Great memories.

  13. Sonia April 15, 2018 at 7:51 pm #

    My family arrived at Pennington February 1971. My brother 7 me 6… we stayed their 12 months prior to my parents buying a house at Prospect. I use to rollerskate at Sinclair’s roller rink then i skated for Elizabeth rink.. we had great swimming days at Semaphore beach. I loved the house my parent bought back then.. done lots of travelling since then but live in Sydney now…

  14. Jess July 19, 2018 at 4:45 pm #

    In family history some distant relatives may have been at a hostel. I have the address, is there a way to search which on it was? It now looks like a vacant building in Adelaide I believe

  15. Christopher J. Barnes August 18, 2018 at 9:41 pm #

    Our Family arrived as Ten Pound Poms at Adelaide in late December 1964 and stayed at a Migrant Hostel for one week until my father secured employment and a home in Williamstown with Jumbuck Pastoral as a farm worker. We happily lived in Williamstown and Adelaide for the next ten years until the threat of The Vietnam War forced my father to take us on a holiday back to the UK. He was a UK Army Reservist who had experienced war and death in Suez as an Army RAMC Medic and ambulance driver. He did not wish to be conscripted again. We had every intention to return to Australia by 1979 because we found that the UK was heading into the insanity of the Ted Heath government and the blackouts, food shortages, corruption, three day weeks. Returning to Australia was an obvious choice. I migrated back to Australia and have a life and family with a lifestyle that competes with modern Europe, but without the long dark winters.

  16. Jacqueline Smart September 16, 2018 at 3:52 am #

    We’re looking for relatives who left Portsmouth, UK aboard the ship ‘Castel Felice’ in 1969/70. They stayed in a migrant hostel in Adelaide for a time, but no idea what happened to them after that. They were George Ernest Watson aged 37years, his wife Patricia Ann Watson aged 31years, Karen Elaine Watson aged 7years, and Gary Watson aged 4years.
    Any news of them, if anyone remembers them, would be greatly appreciated.

    • Diane Sanders June 28, 2022 at 2:26 pm #

      Hello Jacqueline,
      I searched, and their migration record is online, with this information, I searched Ancestry and found the parents have passed away, Patricia in 2004, and George, in 1998. The headstone is online and lists many grandchildren on Findagrave. They lived in the Northern suburbs of Adelaide in South Australia. I don’t want to break any privacy rules by adding living peoples info here, but you won’t have any problems finding them. Good Luck

  17. Janet Thornley October 14, 2018 at 6:03 pm #

    My family arrived in Adelaide in May 1955, after sailing on S S Strathaird, we lived at the Finsbury Hostel for, i think about 6 to 9 months. I can remember queuing up in the playground of Pennington primary school to have the polio injection, i was terrified.
    .Dad found a job as a mechanic and there was a home supplied with the job.
    We then moved to Brown St on the edge of the city then i with my brother attended Sturt St school, until we came the uk in July 1958

    My name was Janet Morley i was 8 yrs old and my younger brother Stephen was 5Yrs
    when we arrived on oz.
    They were happy days

  18. Anja de Ruijter (nee de Wilde) October 27, 2018 at 11:48 am #

    we arrived in Pennington hostel in July 1972, I remember the food hall, the primary school where we were welcomed. the headmaster at time told my mum all of us would be fluent in English in a couple of weeks and he was right.
    I have fond memories of the nearby primary school, although cannot remember the name.
    We arrived with Mum , Dad and four children aged 14, 10, 6, and 2 years old.

    A young boy in my class told me he knew the Dutch word for sleeping, I remember feeling very welcomed and excited.
    I also remember suddenly understanding the words at assembly.
    the first sentence I really understood was not wearing “gym shoes to school”

  19. John McGregor December 5, 2018 at 4:48 pm #

    The history of Gepps Cross Hostel and the migrant experience in Australia (‘TIN HUTS & MEMORIES), is now available on a two disc set for $25 (post free to anywhere in Australia). Includes two hours of interviews with former migrants. For a preview, try this link: or email: for details. Phone 0882631215

  20. Kat January 30, 2019 at 8:22 pm #

    how to I find more information on my parents who came from UK in 1960 the were in one of the hostels in Adelaide I cant remember the name. Is there somewhere a list of names to search.

  21. Michelle Fabian March 3, 2019 at 6:00 am #

    Does anyone remember Gawler Migrant Hostel? My father was running that in 1955 and I was born whilst there. I have his old Albums with some photos I will try to find.

  22. Esther Mcbryde March 4, 2019 at 7:20 pm #

    My family arrived at Finsbury in July 1961, mum with 3 toddlers and heavily pregnant. We met the Murphys from Ireland and the Tyrrels from England who became family as none of us had relatives here, sadly our parents have passed but us kids keep in touch. Moved to Gepps Cross for a while then on to Kilburn. I have great memories from those days.

  23. Alan Ford July 28, 2019 at 5:44 pm #

    We arrived at Finsbury Hostel in Feb 1960, I was age 12. Lord what a place, A dirt floor Nissan hut. I remember queuing up at the canteen ( I think it was the canteen) with a metal billy mug for some milk. My parents were aghast at the state of Finsbury as the place left much to be desired… Dad managed to find work and we were out of there as soon as possible. From there we moved to a council house in Elizabeth S.A, what a relief it was to get out of Finsbury, no wonder so many of the “10 Pound Poms” went back home.

    • Marion Knott .nee Edwards October 25, 2022 at 5:51 pm #

      Hi Allen my family arrived in march 1960. We came over from England on a ship called The Strathnaver
      I can’t say I have fond memories living on the camp. I do remember cordial and biscuits in the afternoon and given lunch for school in a brown paper bag

      • ian donnelly April 24, 2023 at 6:05 pm #

        Hi Marion
        I arrived on the ss strathnaiver April 1960 11 years old from scotland, went to Penington Primary, I have very fond memories of the hostel, we went to Elizabeth dad got a job at GMH got a house in Kilsby street went to elizabeth park primary, then onto Tech moved to elizabeth fields, left adelaide hitch hiked to melbourne when 16 years old, still live in melbourne. but have really fond memories of my journey to australia. I love Australia.
        I hope australia has been kind to you Marion

  24. sandra green December 29, 2019 at 2:20 am #

    I arrived at Finsbury Hostel late March 1966 with my 4 brothers, 1 sister & parents, I thought it was a huge adventure & thoroughly enjoyed myself, we had a dance every Friday night from memory & the masters apprentices played there just before they became famous. By the end of september 1966 we had relocated to the west & settled in the suburbs of Perth where my whole family have lived since.I love Australia, the best gift our parents gave us was taking the risk & moving us all over here,I can only imagine how scary it was for my mum, no friends, family, home or much money & living in a tin shed in the freezing Adelaide winter we had that year. I lost touch with the friends I made & would love to make contact with anyone who was ther between March & September 1966 aged between 14 & 16 especially a Susan & a Christine.

  25. Gerry Nolan January 8, 2020 at 9:39 pm #

    Gudday i came to Australia in 1964 with my parents we ended up in a hostel in SA , not sure but think it was near port Adelaide , i remember the mashed potato was served with a ice cream scoop at the mess hall and it looking like army buildings from gomer pile show moved to Brahma lodge then to qld 1974 to flooding wouldn’t want to be any where else luv Aussie

  26. Tony January 26, 2020 at 1:47 am #

    My name is tony and I was the youngest of 4 boys. Mum and dad brought us here from the UK in October of 1969 and we were in Pennington hostel . If memory serves me correctly we were there between 4 & 6 months. I remember going to Port Adelaide to see if our belongings had arrived by ship as we flew over, Qantas 707. I remember the hostel very well, especially where you went to eat, all those long corrugated iron buildings and all the stormwater channels that ran through there. We of course arrived October so within 6 weeks we were in the grips of our first summer. Then we rented a place not far from there over in Woodville in a trust home. We were there maybe a year or so then mum and dad bought there first home here one street over from where we were renting and we set up roots there for many years with both of them not driving but both got good jobs in the QEH hospital after a few factory jobs in finsbury in the early part of our new life. All I can say they were all in all the best days of my life. Sure the hostel was a bit rough but we had a close family and in still here to talk about it, alas one brother and both my parents are no longer here but will remain forever greatful. We have many other family members from back home that came before us and after us.

    • Keith June 26, 2022 at 8:34 pm #

      Hi Tony how old were you at the time, we were on the hostel October 68 but continued to go back and see our friends had some great times on the hostel

  27. Marc Penzi December 30, 2020 at 12:31 pm #

    Hi All,

    My family immigrated to Aus in 1973 from Italy on the SS Marconi, we left in the foggy cold from Genoa and several weeks later, arrived in a sweltering hot (I still remember the heat of the day) Adelaide and were put up at the Pennington Hostel. Being only 6 or 7 I too, like many of you found it an adventure. Australia was this big unexplored place, It always seemed sunny and that to me, at the time, seemed trapped in a not too distant past.
    The Canteen reminded me of something out of a school camp, during the day you could eat there and at night, it would get converted to hold classes for Adults to learn English.
    I remember my mum being mortified at the conditions of the hostel, but my Dad making the most of the new adventure, seemed to enjoy it and eventually was able to persuade mum to see it that way too. My brothers and I, enjoyed our stay there. Even if we were teased by some of the locals, it seemed that it was pretty much give and take….ended up becoming good friends with a few of them, even discovered Cricket and Aussie rules at the nearby oval. After a few months, my parents found employment and we moved to Elizabeth Vale ( yes and I went to Elizabeth Vale Primary. After a few years , my farther was transferred to Melbourne where I’ve lived for a while. I moved back to Italy – specifically San Marino in 2003 but only lasted 12 months. I missed Australia its most definitely my home and it was from those first few impressionable months back at Pennington hostel.

  28. Valerie Kellie was Connelly March 16, 2021 at 10:51 am #

    My Scottish parents migrated to Australia from Liverpool England in 1963 with 6 kids aged 19, 17, 8, 5, 4 and 15 months.

    We lived at Finsbury Hostel in a nissan hut. I remember the weird smell of the water in the bathrooms, the concrete ditches that ran through the place, orange cordial and a biscuit from the ladies at the kitchen door at the back of the huge eating hall in the afternoons, lots of kids to play with, packed lunches in a brown paper bag, getting a little suitcase to put my lunch in like the Aussie kids had. My oldest sister used to make toast in our rooms with the iron. My mum was very stoic and just got on with it. She loved the Aussie lamb and oranges were cheap. My dad was a fitter and turner at Tecalemit. He passed away from bowel cancer aged 48, in 1971.

    We lived in Finsbury Hostel for about 9 months then moved to 36 Hartley Rd Flinders Park. From there we moved to Elizabeth Park to a semi detached 3 bedroom house with a backyard which was luxury.

    All 6 kids still live in various parts of Australia. My eldest brother fought in Vietnam aged 21. I wouldn’t live anywhere else.

  29. Cynthia Voormeij May 19, 2021 at 2:28 am #

    We immigrated in 1959 to Adelaide but I don’t remember what the name of the Hostel was; the only thing I know about it was what my parents said about it: terrible! Luckily dad was a master painter and started his own business and we got out very soon. As for living “Down Under” I have many fond memories! 🙂

  30. Alex July 3, 2021 at 4:44 pm #

    My parents emigrated to Australia from Greece, arriving in Port Melbourne in December 1953. They were transferred to Bonegilla and several months later moved to Adelaide where they lived at the Finsbury hostel for a few months. I was born in 1954. My parents were then able to buy a small house where we lived for 18 years. I can still remember the stories my parents told me of the camps and of life there.
    My parents were excited to arrive in a new country and to have the opportunities that weren’t available to them in Europe at that time.

  31. Ngoc Dinh February 19, 2022 at 5:23 pm #


    I’m looking for an English teacher, Katalina (from Czechoslovakia). She was teaching English in Pennington hostel in 1980. Is there way to find out where she is now?

    Many thanks,

  32. Tony roberts June 26, 2022 at 7:52 pm #

    we arrIved in October 1976 me the wife and three sons
    stayed at Pennington until Early January 1977 rented a house
    I played rugby for Port Adelaide
    we have done extensive research
    apparently we are the last Welsh Family to stay at Pennington
    we have a name and date brick at the migrant museum in the city
    there were other families staying there after us
    but not assisted passage arrivals the Vietnam boat people
    were already arriving so glad we came to South Australia
    although Australia house in Bristol told us Adelaide don’t have winters
    it never gets cold Bloody liars it’s freezing in June ha ha

  33. Jayne Summers June 26, 2022 at 8:46 pm #

    Arriving in Adleaide September 1963, we lived in Glenelg Hostel. What a culture shock! I know we were 10 pound poms but we came from a 2 story house with a modern bathroom, front and back yards to a Nissan Hut… shared amenities including the canteen. Primitive and less than basic.

  34. Alison McLennan August 21, 2022 at 8:20 pm #

    Alison McLennan (nee Tomkins)
    My Mum and Dad and my brother and I arrived in Adelaide May 1965 (as 10 pound poms) after a 3 day flight from UK. We were taken by bus to the Finsbury Hostel. It was late at night, very cold and bleak and we wondered what on earth had we gotten ourselves into! We were allocated a Nissan hut which consisted of 2 rooms. we were each also allocated a plate a mug and a knife and fork! these utensils were as we found out were to be taken to the communal dining room each time for a meal. It was quite depressing at first but we soon got used to it, and my parents were very grateful to have somewhere to stay on first arrival. I was 13 and my brother was 15 so I went to school at Angle Park Girls Technical High School and my brother got a job at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital. My Dad found work at a near by factory and my Mother worked in the canteen on the hostel. It was very comforting to see my Mother in the Canteen each time I went in there. We made the best of these trying times and after a while I felt quite safe and protected on the hostel and was quite sad to leave it when the time came. My Brother was a great guitarist and singer so I remember we used to gather at the laundry block with a few friends and have a great old sing along and a few laughs. Even though the hostel was so very grim it was home to us a great stop gap before finally moving out to the real Australia a few Months later. My Dad always said this was the land of Milk and Honey and he was right. We all did very well moving and living all around Australia (Adelaide/Alice Springs/ Melbourne/ and lastly QLD. We have done well thanks to that 10 pound passage.

  35. M Cottrell August 24, 2022 at 3:00 am #

    We stopped at the Pennington Hostel for a few months in 1966, coming over as 10 quid poms. I remember attending the local school. We collected our lunches in a brown bag from the hostel canteen. Never knew what was in them until we arrived at school. Remember the Friday fish and chip suppers. As kids we often ended up getting 2 portions. It was all an adventure and we ended up in Wingfield, which is just up the road. Eventually we ended going back to the Uk 10 years later. I will always consider myself an Aussie at heart, having spent the best years of my schooling there. Wonderful memories.

    • Ursula Sneddon June 30, 2023 at 10:00 pm #

      Hi M Cottrell
      We travelled as 10 pound pommies back in 1972, staying at Pennington Hostel. Yes, the brown paper bagged lunches. I opened up mine one lunch time and it was a cold baked bean sandwich!! The food was generally terrible, except for Friday’s with the fish and chips! We were there for 8 months and moved to Salisbury Downs. Returned to the UK in 1974 but the returned to Australia again in 1976, the same year you returned to the UK. This time we stayed at Woodville Hostel which was REALLY nice! More like Hotel. Moved back to Salisbury, into a new build house which was lovely. I was 13 yrs old at the time and went to Parafield Gardens High School….then Muirden College. Got a job in Bridgestone and then moved back to the UK in 1985 – big mistake but I am still here in Leicester….2 of my brothers are still living in Adelaide!

  36. Trish Murray January 16, 2024 at 7:11 am #

    Hi all,
    I came over from Scotland on the boat in 1962. It was a 6-week trip in those days and as I was aged 15 at the time it was all a huge adventure to me. There were 6 of us Murrays — Mum, Dad, me (Pat), brother Ian, sister Celia and brother Paul.
    We were sent to Finsbury but unfortunately I don’t have many memories of the place as we didn’t stay there very long. What I do remember was the boys, the dances, the concerts and all the excitement of running wild — well sort of. Glen Shorrocks was there at the same time and he has gone on to be a bit of a singing legend I believe.
    We then moved to a rental in Wayville and it was next to the tram line to Glenelg beach so we went there often. I remember we didn’t have a fridge only an ice chest and getting the ice delivered was a real eye opener for me. So hot in summer I slept with a wet towel over me so I could get some sleep!!
    After that we moved to Elizabeth but I was working in Adelaide and came in every day with my father who also worked in town. Stayed the required 2 years then we moved to New Zealand and have been there ever since.
    I am coming back to Adelaide on 18th March this year and will definitely go and have a look at the site of the old Hostel. Are there any people still in Adelaide who were there in late 1962?

  37. Heather Shipton April 3, 2024 at 8:15 am #

    Looking for David Victor Clark who emigrated from England in 1959 aged 10 with his parents Victor Arnold Clark and Marjorie Ellen Clark. They originally stayed at the Elder Park Hostel in Adelaide.

    David was born in Kettering, England in 1949. We would dearly love to be in touch with him or any of his family. My late Father John Raymond Clarke was the cousin of David’s Father Victor.

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