Saturday, 21 April 2012

Two years indentured

Stasys Šiuskus arrived in Perth and stayed in the Grayland migrant camp for a brief time. After two weeks, he was told that he would be going to pick grapes in South Australia. He was sent by train to Adelaide and then by bus to Renmark. A farmer named H. Rasheed selected a small group of Lithuanians and took them to his property on 28 March 1948. He would receive £4 per week for a 40 hour week. Two shillings were deducted for tax. Other farmers allowed their workers to earn by amount and so could potentially earn more.

On one occasion, the group picked large grapes and then were taken to a crop consisting of small grapes. Here the farmer changed how they were to paid, now they earned their wage by the amount you pick. The group knew they were being taken advantage of, and as a group decided they would not pick and instigated a strike. The farmer got the Union representative, who sided with the workers. He had to pay them an hourly wage which included the half a day they were striking.
At the end of the harvest they received a letter from the Renmark Harvest Labour committee, it read;

As the harvesting of the dried fruits has now concluded it is gratifying to hear of good work done and also your conduct during the period of engagement with our Growers. You will now be moving on to other parts of Australia and we wish you every success in your new home of adoption and feel sure you will be loyal to the British Empire.

After the harvest, Stays was sent to work on the railways at Bancham, between Naracoorte and Mt Gambier. He lived here in tents, two to a tent. His next door neighbours were J and Vytas Neverauskas. Meals were eaten in a communal area, the food was good and inexpensive. They were earning 1 shilling a week which was paid fortnightly, after tax they received £13.

Stasys was injured and spend two weeks in the Naracoorte hospital; he contracted rheumatism in his foot. He asked for a transfer to Adelaide. After a week he received notification that he was transfer to Islington, to work on the tractors at the Railway yards. He was fortunate to find a room with furniture at 254 Main North Rd, Prospect.

The day after Stasys two year contract ended he purchased a six ton truck and drove north to the Leigh Creek coalfields, where he could now earn over six shillings an hour.

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Dancing group

A set of guidelines for the group was drawn up by Ilgunas in 1949, stating that;
The group is open to all who can represent the Lithuanian name
The desire to perform at ones best.

At the concert at Glenelg in 1949, was the first time that the group had sold a brochure on the dancing group, they collected £20-10-0 at 6d each.

The first group consisted of L. Giniotytė, Spaskauskas, Mockūnienė, A. Armonas, A Šliužas, G. Janulevičius, Vyt Dainius, J. Čizauskas, N. Skidzevičius and accordion player J. Songaila.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Bathurst Migrant Camp

Having just posted on the Bonegilla Migrant camp, I thought I would find out what is available on the Internet for Bathurst Migrant camp. At the end of the WWII the former army camp became a migrant reception and training Centre for European refugees and displaced persons. It was one of the major migrant reception centres in Australia, accepting around 100,000 migrants between 1948 and 1952.

The Migration Heritage Centre of NSW has created a website that looks at the camp, peoples experiences and contains photographs and documents. You can have a look at the website here.

This site links to further webpages that looks at the Post WWII migration in a site called Belongings. It contains stories from different migrants that can be searched on by country of origin, arrival date, place of departure. Unfortunately there is no Lithuanian story recorded. The site features information on how to care for our materials. It appears there is no dedicated museum to the Bathurst migrant camp, there is a memorial site you can visit and local museums where I am sure more information can be found.

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Bonegilla Migrant Camp

Originally an Army camp, it became a migrant hostel from 1947 to thousands of refugees from Europe. Here the migrants stayed for a month or so, learning English as they waited for a work placement. It is estimated that about half of the migrants who came between 1947 and 1951 lived at Bonegilla.

The Bonegilla hostel still exists, now as a museum and memorial to the new migrants first "Aussie" home. They have recently launched a fantastic website full of information about the hostel and life in the camp.

If you were in Bonegilla you are able to leave a memory and donate to the Tribute wall.

Take some time and look at this excellent resource.

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Lithuanian National Dancing group

It was not long after the first group of Lithuanian displaced persons arrived in Adelaide that a dancing group was formed and began performing. There first performance was on January 2nd, 1949. At that time, the “new Australians’ would have been a curious site, as a result the group were invited along with other Eastern European groups to perform at various functions. By May 1950 the group has 10 dances in their repertoire, with 20 dancers, all with national costumes and had by that time performed over 24 times. At that time no name had been given to the group apart from Adelaide Lithuanian Folk Dancing group.

Woodville Carnival and Carols, Woodville oval, 23 December 1949
•The United Nations Arts Festival, Adelaide Town Hall, 20-22 October 1949
Glenelg Commemoration Celebrations Carnival Concert by New Australians, Monday 26th December 1949 at 8pm. (Four dancers)
•Garden Fete at “Thorpe”, Crafers February 25
•International Goodwill Week Ball in Glenelg town hall, 24 February 1950
Nurioopta Festival Night, 14th April 1950 with Estonians
•St Dominic’s Priory College concert for building fund, May 1950
•Teachers College May 1950
•F.H Faulding Social Birthday Dance, 17th May 1950
•Grand Variety Entertainment by New Australians, Port Adelaide Town Hall, 6th July 1950
•The New Australian Service, Music Lovers Grand Ball, Adelaide Town Hall, 19th October 1951
•Popular Concert presented by New and Old Australians, Adelaide Town Hall, October 26
•Lithuanian artists concert in Lobethal, 8th December 1951
•Student nurses annual ball at Palais Royal, 5th September 1952
•Henley & Grange Carnival, 23 January 1953
•Charity Coronation Ball, Palais Royal 27th May 1953, over 1200 guests