My mother, to her parents, October 1957. 17 months in Australia.

My mother was thirty-nine, in April, 1956, when she migrated, together with my father (also 39) and me(12), to Australia.
Destination Applecross, near Perth. But that had not been thought through…….. We ended up in Matraville (now Hillsdale), in the eastern suburbs of Sydney, sharing an old house with Mr and Mrs van Hoorn and their daughter (six, when we left the Netherlands.)
My mother wrote to her parents, one-and-a-half years later (in Dutch):

Monday morning 28 October, 1957.

Dear parents
Here, again a sign of life from Matraville. Writing doesn’t happen as smoothly as it did in the beginning but the important thing is that everything is still happening as we wished. Last week we received a letter from (younger sister) Bep, with news that syrup-waffles and licorice are on their way to us. You will understand that a cheer went up for that news. I hope it all arrives safely. You are still enjoying your t.v., aren’t you?
Well. Last night, for the first time, we saw a t.v. telecast, here. At the Picnell (sic) family’s place. They have a t.v. set on approval. We saw a beautiful film and news and in between the customary advertisements.
The transmissions here are, for the most part financed by the large firms. Well, the picture was fine and we certainly enjoyed it.
It was a fine t.v. set but Mr Picknell will not take it yet. He wants to wait a few years with this. It is, after all, very expensive here.

Saturday evening we went to the car and motorcycle races. Only one of them drove himself into hospital. So that wasn’t too bad.
Well. While the ambulance is away to take the man to hospital, they just play a bit of music because they cannot go on with the competition because there is only one ambulance available and while it is away they cannot take care of a possible next victim. So they wait for its return.
“What a sport!”
And for that you pay so much money to see it!
Yesterday we had a truly, great day. We took a trip, with another small family, in our cars, for a picnic. We first drove, for about an hour along the coast, and then entered the National Park.
That is a large nature reserve, 35000 acres in size. It is exceedingly beautiful there. We had parked our cars there and hired two rowing boats and spent the rest of the day on the water.
When you then find yourself between those rocks and the high mountainsides, on beautiful, clear water and above you, the clear blue sky, then you never want to return to that cold, wet little country.
But then, it isn’t always Sunday and we aren’t always free (from work). But I still find it to be regrettable that you can’t just experience this (some day).
Our Joop
(Ozcloggie) has exams, this week. Today French and Woodwork and for the rest of the week every day other exams.
Well, he practically has never had homework, in recent months but he says:
I’m not worried. It will be o.k..
Well, I think he would have learnt a lot more in a year like this, in Holland. Anyhow, English he now knows perfectly and that’s always handy. Every week he gets another book from the library and reads it just as quickly as if it was in Dutch.
His teeth are getting beautifully straightened. So it will surely still become a nice
(little) chap.
The photos which I am including were taken a few weeks ago on the property of a Dutchman. That’s the man who so proudly is holding up the big lizard. He didn’t catch it himself but the little man beside him, with that rifle.
Pa and Ma, greetings to all and lots of love from your daughter, Co.


My mother, to her parents, October 1957. 17 months in Australia.


Ramsgate Beach, Australia

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Artist's Description

My father was enthusiastic about migrating. Like so many Dutch people, not long after World War II, he was worried about the build-up of tension between the USA and the (then) USSR. He was not happy selling insurance. (Glass-cutting, making mirrors was his trade.) He convinced himself and others that Australia would offer a better future for me, even though, events proved that, apart from my uncle’s response that The sun always shines in Australia_, he, my mother and our friends were woefully uninformed about what would await them in their new country.
My mother agreed to go (event hough she would miss her parents and eight brothers and sisters), as long as it was agreed that after the two yeas were up and if they (we) were not happy, we would return. We stayed and very likely had a better life than we would have had. Although, meanwhile, the standard of living in the Netherlands rose and rose and my parents (aged 39) and their friends (a little younger) had to build up their new lives, from scratch.
My new kitten, yesterday, playfully pulled down some items from a little table. I found my mother’s letter (_She passed away, May, 2004
) and I have translated it, to share with you.

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