The West Sale Migrant Holding Centre was
located at the disused RAAF Base in Fulham between 1949 & 1953.
It provided accommodation for women & children
while their respective husbands worked & lived at work camp sites
Over 700 families displaced by the war in Europe
called West Sale home. Until this decade there were virtually no
local records of this
facility existing as well as a generally low wider community awareness.
Given that most of these migrants
settled in Gippsland & have made significant
economic, cultural & spiritual contributions, it was felt that
would be appropriate.
The project began in 1999 with a reunion for those
who stayed in West Sale & their descendants. This was a healing
& joyful occasion
In 2002 the West Sale Heritage festival was staged
at the site of the former camp. It attracted over 4000 people from
across the state & overseas.
The history of the site & its people was documented & a book
published in 2002 - Titled
“We came with nothing” by Ann Synan and a radio
series called “Footprints In The Tar” by yours truly.
The book and
the radio series received the Victorian Community History award in
Victoria for 2003.
The centrepiece of the project was to establish a permanent memorial
in West Sale to those who contributed so much
locally & wider Victoria.
West Sale Migrant Memorial Project publicly recognises
the contributions made in the development of Gippsland by migrants
who came to the area in the
1950s, following World War Two.
Now the driving force behind the project Don Santowiak
is at it again - this time with a commemorative concert planned
for the 18th March.
If you’d like to put your name on the list
for the concert - give Don a call on 5135 9517
I have just spoken to two people who were involved
heavily in the construction of the memorial. They are posting a
which they wrote about the Sale Migrant Camp.
NOTE: they say in the article above, that
the Air Force Base was disused – however, while I was there
it was a fully
operational air force base. I remember watching
the planes with my father under a row of very tall pine trees.
I have attached two photographs:
father, the tallest on the bridge , As Refugees they were contracted
for two Years to build bridges, culverts etc in Gippsland for the State
Rivers and Water Supply Commission
photograph of me with the Refugee stamp in Germany at a British Camp.