Sharing the Lode: The Broken Hill Migrant Story

I was in fights every day. While I couldn't speak English, I had no friends and I really had trouble at school... so then I started fighting. - Italo Martini


We held our language in our hearts as we struggled to learn the language of our new country. It was easier for the young than for their parents. Some of us found it was just too difficult.

Mrs McQueen introduced my mother to the Australian culture. I asked Mrs McQueen how they communicated and she said she used the Italian language. I had never heard her but she meant she used her hands!
Filomena Tormena

There was a little shop up the road and once Dida sent me to buy carrots. He said to me , "Ask the lady for caro". So I asked for caro and she gave me kerosene. I said to the lady "No, no - that is not right" with my hands and I had to go back and ask Dida again and he said carrots properly. I went back and she gave me carrots.
Jagoda Vlatko

Many migrants who arrived in the fifties attended government-funded English classes at the Broken Hill High School. They were taught by Patrick (Pat) Hackett who is remembered by many with affection and gratitude. I needed to learn a lot more, so I went to English classes two nights a week - Monday night from seven to nine and Friday nights from seven to nine. This was a most important time for me. My teacher was Mr Pat Hackett. He was a very good teacher and a gentleman.
Con Frangonasopoulos

I attended English lessons at the High School. People were so nice. We had a fantastic teacher - he was a very nice fellow. He encouraged me all the time. He wanted me to lecture because of my previous qualifications but I said no, because one had to be fluent in a language to teach others.
Vera Sulicich

We took the plane to Adelaide and the hostess offered a coffee and I didn't know how to say thank you. My husband said to me "Can you say thank you?" The first word I used was "thank you".
Anna Caon

I spoke only Italian while I was at Wilcannia. When I came back to Broken Hill, I went to classes at the Pig and Whistle Hotel. I was supposed to go a second year but I got a job in the bush and I forgot about the classes. When I came back here, I was too far behind the others and I didn't go back. Now, I realise that was a mistake but at that time, I needed the money.
Luigi Zanette

I said to myself once I was here "If you want to live in this country, you have to start to learn the language." It is very hard if you don't, and especially hard if you want to go to the doctor. You have to all the time take someone with you. "No" I said, "I have to start learning". So I did.
Rozalia (Rose) Cetinich

I asked Mrs Bosnich for the correct English words to go and buy certain types of meat from the butcher's. I repeated it all the way to the shop but by the time I got there I had forgotten! The butcher asked me what I wanted so I patted my behind and said "That's what I want, but pork!" You can laugh about it now but it was hard.
Kata Andrich

At first I had difficulty in understanding what people were saying. That was particularly frustrating because I could speak the language , but in the Philippines we are taught American-English and Australian slang was confusing.
Merita Nicholas

When dad arrived in Australia, he noticed that outside of shops were many signs, which said "Sale". He thought to himself that Australians must use a lot of salt as "sale" in Italian means salt!
Noris Braes

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Greek children at the Greek Club

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East School, c.1946