2019 saw the start of many 70-year anniversaries across Australia in connection with post World War 2 migration to Australia.
The Commonwealth migration schemes, brought many people to the Illawarra who started their lives in hostel accommodation. From 1949 migrant hostel accommodation was built, or re-purposed from exiting camps, to house the people who came to Wollongong under the migration schemes introduced by the Australian Government after World War 2.
A special presentation by the Migration Heritage Project (MHP) was given in recognition of the significant anniversaries of migrant hostels in the Illawarra, including the 70th anniversary for Balgownie and Berkeley Hostels that occurred in 2021. It was held on Saturday 29 February 2019 at the Fraternity Club, Fairy Meadow which is located not too far from the former Balgownie (Fairy Meadow) Hostel Site.
The research for the presentation was undertaken on behalf of the Migration Heritage Project by Fidelia Pontarolo, founding member and Secretary. The presentation looked back and recalled the people, places and memories from those times, and also looked at the various migration schemes and why they were introduced and how those migration schemes impacted on where and how hostels were built in the Illawarra. Apart from three hostel buildings that remain on the former site of the Balgownie (Fairy Meadow Hostel) there is no evidence of any other hostel sites and the presentation provided the answers to where in the physical landscape of the Illawarra today, those hostels were located.
The audience were asked to participate in the MHP’s Share the Stories project and at the completion of the presentation some of the audience members spoke of their personal experiences and memories.
The MHP’s a presentation commemorated this significant milestone in the Illawarra’s local history.