Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Bonegilla Where Waters Meet: The Dutch Migrant Experience by Dirk Eysbertse and Marijke Eysbertse.

Bonegilla Where Waters Meet: The Dutch Migrant Experience by Dirk Eysbertse and Marijke Eysbertse.  Paperback book published by Erasmus Foundation 1997, 104 pages with black and white photographs and illustrations as well as a few colour photographs and illustrations.

Bonegilla was Australia’s first and largest migrant reception centre in the post WW2 era. The camp was first home to 320,000 migrants from many nations. More than a million people can trace their origins to Bonegilla. The Dutch were one of the largest groups at the camp.”

Yes, I am one of the “More than a million people” that “can trace their origins to Bonegilla.” I wasn't with my family at the time as it was during my prehistory that they took the plunge and ventured away from the ancestral homelands to these welcoming shores. My mother doesn't speak very highly of her time in Bonegilla and I do know that my family left there as soon as they possibly could for elsewhere in Victoria, ending up close to a Ford factory and a job for my father.

The Dutch have a long history here in Oz and like many groups before and after them, have managed to mix, blend and finally disappear within the diaspora. It is for these people who can trace their origins to a devastated post war Holland and the upheaval of emigration, that a book such as this is written for. The migrant experience was very similar for all nationalities at the time and even though my family weren't Dutch this book seems to have the same themes and stories as my family and many others.

This book is pure nostalgia with history as it's base. I can't see that anyone who doesn't have a Bonegilla connection, including those of Dutch extraction, would have much interest in a book such as this. Fortunately there are plenty of us and them, who do have a connection, for whom this book should have some interest.

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