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Established: 1954

Location: Sirius Road, Voyager Point

For many migrants, living here was their first experience of Australia. As a former resident said, ‘it was a bleak place in the middle of nowhere.’ Liverpool was a four kilometre walk and migrants going to work crossed the Georges River by a wooden footbridge to catch the train at East Hills station.

Two migrant hostels: East Hills and Heathcote, provided basic living conditions in former army huts. Migrants were crowded into a small space divided by a very flimsy wall, with minimal privacy. Family life was different; children whose parents were at work all day, were free to roam, meals were provided, although not necessarily tasty ones.

The first group of migrants, who came to live here in 1954, were British. English journalist Malcolm Muggeridge considered communal life in hostels ‘abhorrent’ to the ‘English temperament’ and assumed that European refugees would cope better because they had come from more desperate situations. However, many Europeans found this type of housing unpleasantly reminiscent of their experiences in concentration and refugee camps.

Some British migrants enjoyed the hostel community, yet others could hardly wait to find their own home. One migrant said, ‘It’s a bit of a no man’s land; it’s neither Britain nor Australia, so you can’t judge the Australian way of life until you actually move off the hostel.’

Hundreds of migrants from different countries passed through the hostels. Many settled permanently in the Hammondville and East Hills area.

Community Relations Commision Powerhouse Museum