The 2nd Wave
After the Second World War, Estonians fleeing post war Europe began to arrive. They built on their national connections and helped each other to start farming. By the 1960s there were over 60 families from Estonia involved in chicken farming in Thirlmere. The Commonwealth Government encouraged them to apply for Crown land on condition that they cleared the bush and set up productive farms. Chicken farming was comparatively inexpensive to set up and had been proved viable by the first Estonian settlers. They used bush materials to build their sheds and open yards for the chickens.
Gustav & Helga Alas (née Voore)
Gustav's brother and father were sent to Siberia by the KGB where his father was shot.
Mall Juske (née) Karp
I lived in Tallinn with my parents Linda & Albert Karp. When I was 6 or 7 the Russians were driven out by the Germans; there was a lot of firing and bodies lying around. We left Estonia on the last barge to leave the harbour. I was nine years old. We fled across Germany and went to Geislingen displaced persons camp after the war.
- Mall Juske 2003.
Ilma Maidla (née Kivi)
Ilma Maidla [née Kivi] married Paul in 1944 and they left immediately to avoid Paul being drafted into the Soviet Army. He joined the Estonian Battalion in Poland. Illma and her sister Oie joined him there until he was sent away again with the Nazi Army. Ilma and Oie fled to Tostedt in Western Germany. After the war Paul found them in Tostedt after walking from Prague which took him three weeks. They found sanctuary in the British zone before being sent to England. Ilma and Paul arrived in Australia in 1949.
Paul & Ilma Maidla
Paul & Ilma Maidla married in Estonia. They came from a displaced persons camp in Germany to Yorkshire, England, and then to the Norden's farm in Thirlmere on May 1st 1949 with their son Urmas. They worked for Norderns, Kaljusto's and Peets while clearing their own land on Michelle Road, Thirlmere. Paul worked on Warragamba Dam to earn money for materials while Ilma managed the farm and family.
We arrived in 1949. I looked around and I thought 'I will not stay long' - it was like another planet - 'wild' and 'uncivilised' were two words which came to mind. Heavy rain, dirt roads, mud everywhere, strange trees and bushes; what had I done! - but I knew that Europe was in a worse condition. We worked for Arnold Kaljusto on his farm before going to Peet's on Shelley's Lane where we worked hard to get our own land – which we did eventually from the Lands Department. It was 32 acres of bushland which we cleared by hand using bush timber to build sheds. The Peets generously gave us a heifer which we named Maasik, meaning 'Strawberry' and a ewe lamb. The Nordens gave us a dog, Polla, and Mr. Kaljusto a kitten. So we were all ready to start the farm. All we needed was a dam-which was ready when we moved.
Helmut & Mall Juske
Ellen & Martin Villig
Ellen Vaas was nineteen when she married Uustalu in 1943. He was conscripted into the Army and she never saw him again. She fled to Germany and was eventually interned in Valga camp where her daughter Tiiu was born in 1947. Australia accepted single parents. They were sent to a refugee camp at Bathurst which was 'rainy and muddy'.
Ellen had to work for a farmer who was 'mean to them'. She married Martin Villig and they won the land at Thirlmere in a lottery. They kept chickens for several years before starting a business growing and canning cucumbers and sauerkraut and smoking and canning eels for the Estonian community in the 1970s.
Heinrich, Aino and Tiiu Mikker
Heinrich Mikker had a fish canning factory in Tallinn, Estonia and left before the Soviet Army invaded because he feared the Communists. He fled with his wife, Aino, and daughter, Tiiu, to Sweden and then to Australia, paying their own fares on a cargo boat. They arrived in Melbourne in 1948 and caught a train to Sydney but the train driver dropped them off at Picton because he knew there were other migrants nearby in Thirlmere. The Pilt family sponsored them.
Heinrich brought two knitting machines from Sweden which took 2 years to arrive-in the meantime they grew tomatoes. When the knitting machines arrived they sold knitted articles to a Sydney firm for five shillings per piece and called their business the 'Lux Knitting Co'.
As more and more migrants arrived in the district from Europe after World War Two, the knitting industry became too competitive so Heinrich turned to the other business he knew - preserving the sort of food enjoyed by many Estonians and other migrants from Northern Europe.
Their produce was so popular with the local Estonian chicken farmers and others that Edgells improved their own product by using samples of Mikker's beetroot. Heinrich Mikker retired and sold his business to Martin Villig in 1980 - but his recipe for pickled cucumber remains a secret to this day.