Sunday, 31 August 2008

Iron Knob

Iron Knob is located 68 kilometres southwest of Port Augusta, and 90 kilometres east of Kimba in South Australia. A small town of about 700 people, with only one hotel was the first workplace and home for many Lithuanian DP’s from the first transport to Australia. The first Balts (10 of them) were sent there in February 1948 and later smaller numbers of other nationalities arrived. The refugees were initially housed in tents until suitable accommodation could be found. The work was not hard and it seemed that all grasped their tasks easily, it was just dirty work. The wages were good and overtime is often available. Life however was very monotonous. Dances are organised weekly, and being able to swim in the local pool relieves the boredom.

Australijos Lietuvis (Australian Lithuanian newspaper) 1948

Sunday, 24 August 2008

Adelaide Lithuanian News

The first edition of Adelaidės Lietuvių Žinios (Adelaide Lithuanian News) was printed on 1 July 1960. This monthly newspaper is still produced today, although numerous years ago it was combined with Šventadieno Balsas (Sunday Voice) the Adelaide Lithuanian Catholic Church newsletter. The newspaper highlights news of the community, from local Lithuanian sports results, scouts, Lithuanian house news, deaths, special occasions and the list goes on. It was published by Vaclovas Raginis on behalf of the Adelaide Lithuanian Association. The first issue details that Ignatavičius and Gumbys were selected for the SA basketball team.

For family historians this source of information is invaluable, the only issue though is that it’s all in Lithuanian!

Sunday, 10 August 2008

Alien invasion

Immigrants to Australia were officially referred to as Aliens. The Aliens Act of 1947 meant that all immigrants 16 years of age or older had to register and notify any change of name, address or occupation.

The registration process required aliens to submit a number of 'RA' (Registered Alien) documents. The range of forms to be completed included the following.

RA Information from Aliens over Sixteen Entering the Commonwealth
RA1 Application for Registration Form
RA2 Application for Registration by Alien Entering Australia
RA3 Notice of Change of Occupation or Employment
RA4 Notification of Departure from Australia
RA5 Notice of Change of Residence
RA6 Notification of Marriage
RA7 Notification of Naturalisation
RA9 Application for Issue of New Certificate

The most commonly used form was the Application for Registration by Alien Entering Australia (Form RA2), which in practice appears to have been issued for both resident aliens and aliens leaving the Commonwealth. The RA2 form varied slightly in format over time but recorded the same details about aliens entering Australia. These details included name, address, nationality, date and place of birth, occupation, place and dates of birth of spouse and children, name of ship or aircraft registration, date and place of arrival in Australia. A passport-sized photograph of the applicant was attached to the majority of forms.

You can now access these types of documents from the National Archives.

Monday, 4 August 2008


Bonegilla is located 12km from Wodonga on the NSW Victoria border.

The original complex was built as the Bonegilla Army camp during the second world war. It became the Bonegilla Migrant Reception and Training centre in 1947 and until 1971 served as Australia’s largest and longest operating migrant centre. It was the first Australian home for more than 320 000 post war migrants from over 30 countries.

There were 24 separate accommodation blocks comprising of several long huts arranged around a central kitchen and dining area, with showers, a laundry and deep pit latrines.
The huts were corrugated iron, unlined and with ventilation gaps between the roof and walls.

Each person was allocated linen and grey woolen blankets as well as crockery and cutlery.

The centres facilities included a large hospital, three churches, movie theatre, library, primary school, canteen, butcher, barber, police station and three banks. The administration area provided a paymaster, social services, CES, customs, alien registration and information centre.

Women and children were housed separately from the men until huts were partitioned into cubicles for families.

It was here that many Lithuanians who came to Australia were placed upon arrival.