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The origin of the Whingeing Pom...


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I came here as a five pound pom, that is because we brought two little kids with us for free. Best Twenty pounds I ever spent and I never thought that one day I would be rich enough to have a return visit to Pommie land. I was never denigrated as a pom because I could give back just as much as the Aussies gave out. My pet refrain was that at least I made a decision to come here whereas the denigrator was only here because that is where his mother was when he was born.

I was out of the hostel in 6 weeks, working at what I wanted on the land, some Poms were in the hostel for over the allowed two years.

The worst Poms I experienced were in Whyalla. The steelworks brought them out, housed them and sold them all their furniture and all they did was whinge. When we said get out go elsewhere for a job, they didn't have the guts to make a move for themselves.

Before I came here a couple used to drink in my fathers pub and bemoaned the fact that they emigrated to Aus, didn't like it and went back, now all they wanted was to make the money to really emigrate to Australia. As far as i know they are still there and that is what they deserve.

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Geez you are a bit hard on your Countrymen. Saying they deserve to stay in the English Penal colony. ALL I met thought they were better than US (the KIDS) so you can imagine how that went down. WE didn't bash them up though as you wouldn't have been able to skite about it.. There were Bu$$er all fights anyhow at the High School I went to. Fairly civilised. Nev

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If you simply changed the names, places and jobs, that story would be the same for the majority of Assisted Migrants. If I delve back into my family history, the matriarch of one of its limbs had her costs of coming from Ireland paid for by a benevolent society. Once here, she married the patriarch of that limb, who had had assisted passage arranged by one of His Majesty's legal departments. Once he had completed his "employment contract" in the Upper Hunter, he returned to Sydney where he established a livery business on Parramatta Road on the edge of what is now Sydney University and made a success of that, and his children prospered. A small street in Camperdown bears his name.


My wife's family were part of the early 60s influx. They arrived with him already having arranged a job with CSR at Botany and remained with them, rising to an operations management position. Where would our entertainment industry be if the parents of Farnham, Barnes, The Easybeats, The Gee Bees hadn't decided to sling their hooks in the Old Country and come to Australia?

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15 hours ago, onetrack said:

My Dad was a £10 Pom and my Mother was a £10 Scottish lass. Dad arrived here in 1925 as a 19 yr old, on his own, both his parents deceased - and he left behind a fractured lot of sisters and brothers who were all fighting over the parents estate.

The estate was supposedly left to Dad and his younger brother (as they were the two youngest in the family) - but he never got any share of the estate and he never laid claim to any of it - he was just sick of the family infighting.

Dad arrived in Melbourne on the S. S. Hobsons Bay in the middle of Summer, and there were no immigration hostels then - you found a job, quickly - or you starved. There was no social welfare here, then, either.

The dole didn't appear until the mid-1940's, and even then, it was only a small sustenance payment that was simply designed to keep you fed, until you quickly found another job. There was a lot of social stigma attached to receiving the dole in that era.


Dad was a talented signwriter and painter, but for some reason he decided he wanted to try other things, so promptly went and found a job labouring in a market garden. This market gardener was a right arsehole, Dad accommodation was an old small shed at the edge of the market garden. The shed regularly housed snakes, and Dad related how he kicked a snake off his bed one night, as he felt it moving around on his feet - he thought it was the owners dog!

He got up and lit his lantern and was shocked to encounter this big black snake! Then Dad wanted to quit and find another job, and the market gardener refused to give him his due pay and even locked the shed with all his possessions in it!

Dad went to the local copper and the copper was good, and went back with him, and sorted out the problems with the miserable shit of a market gardener.


Dad then went working on a farm at Old Tallangatta (now under the Hume Dam). It was a sizeable operation, and Dad was quite happy there for about 4 years. I looked up the familys name, and the family descendants are still in the Tallangatta region, and they're still big farmers. He bought a BSA motorbike to get around while he was there, so he must have got reasonable wages.

In October 1929, he decided to quit Tallangatta and headed to W.A., where he thought there'd be more adventure and opportunities to make a fortune. He no doubt learnt about the gold in the West, and how you could become a rich man if you struck a good patch.


But no sooner than he'd rocked up in Perth, the Great Depression had hit - and everyone was shocked and worried, and no-one was hiring anyone. To save money, Dad camped in the sand dunes of Cottesloe Beach, while he looked for work.

He got some work as an axeman, clearing for farmland, at a place called Nokanning, N of Merredin, for a short while - but that work soon ran out, so he returned to the city.

Deeming Perth a dead loss for work, he hit the road to the North of W.A. In a few weeks he was in Carnarvon, where he found a job running a big Blackstone engine that drove the town water supply pump (pumping from the Gascoyne River aquifer).


This looked like a great job for a few weeks - until he found out that the Federal Govt had passed a law requiring employers to give available jobs to married men with dependents. A bloke with 7 kids rolled up in Carnarvon looking for work - and Dad promptly lost his job, as the Water Supply gave his job to the married man!

Undeterred, he set off East, into the Gascoyne/Murchison Region - station country, and very isolated country. He went from Station to Station looking for work, finding nothing (remembering that wool prices had tanked as soon as the Great Depression hit), and he ended up at a Station about 120kms N of Meekatharra - a place called Doolgunna, run by one G.J. ("Jimmy") Howard.

Doolgunna was on some of the most marginal station country - the Eastern boundary of the Station adjoined the Canning Stock Route, some 200 kms N of WIluna. There was only the Little Sandy Desert, E and NE of Doolgunna.


Jimmy told him he had work for him - fencing, and general station work - but he couldn't pay him right at present - but he could feed and accommodate him, and he'd make up his pay when wool prices rose again - whenever that was, was anyones guess, in early 1930.

Dad decided he had nothing to lose, and Jimmy seemed like a decent bloke, so he took up his offer. He worked for Jimmy on Doolgunna for 4 years, with no pay - then wool prices rebounded - and Jimmy, true to his word, paid Dad up in full, the whole 4 years worth of wages. Jimmy was a true gentleman, and became a lifelong friend of Dads.

Part of the back payment comprised some bush land on the Northern outskirts of Perth - 134 acres at East Wanneroo, which property is now covered by the suburb of Landsdale.

The block of land had only had 2 owners before Dad, since the inception of the Colony of W.A. - it was originally a land grant about 1875, to one of W.A.'s earliest Governors - Governor William C.F. Robinson.

Out whole family (Dad, Mum, and 3 boys) ended up living on that property in the 1950's, where Dad had built a house single-handedly out of concrete bricks, made in a hand-operated press (in the late 1940's).


Dad left Doolgunna in 1934, still in mutual friendship with Jimmy Howard, and went contract water boring through the Murchison, and down to the Northern Wheatbelt. In 1938 he chucked in water-boring due to the loneliness of the job - and he returned to Perth where he found work painting houses in partnership with some other blokes. He met my Mother shortly after returning to Perth and they got married in July 1938. 

Then when the War broke out, house-painting disappeared, so he took up a temporary job, working in a galvanising works. It was a lousy job, acid burns, and hard, hot, heavy manual work - but he deemed it a fill-in job until he found a much better one. Then in March 1942, conscription for all able-bodied men was introduced - so Dad went to the RAAF recruiting office, and was accepted to be trained up in diesel engine operation and fitting.


But no sooner than his galvanising works employers found out he'd joined the RAAF, they went and complained to the RAAF CO - that Dad was Manpower, and he couldn't join the military! The CO called him in and told him he was out of the RAAF, he'd have to go back to the galvanising works!

He was really pissed-off about that exercise. The worst part was, he was stuck there for the duration of the War, because they were flat out galvanising equipment for the U.S. Navy submarines that were based at Fremantle during the War, and this was deemed critical War work.

Even worse, the galvanising works was so desperate for workers, they took on juvenile delinquents from the court system. Dad often related stories about the thieving little deadbeats he had to work with!


At the end of the War, he went back to house-painting again, while he built the house on the farm at Wanneroo. During the War he also built a house single-handedly on 10 acres, at what is now the suburb of Nollamara - which was simply called "the Seven Mile" in that era, as it was 7 miles out of Perth on the Wanneroo Road! I was born while Mum and Dad lived at the Seven Mile.


Two years later, he sold the house at the Seven Mile and we moved into the house on the farm, where Dad intended to start a dairy farm. Life on the farm was pretty harsh as we had no power, no public transport, and the roads were pretty crappy.

Dad and Mum operated for 6 years with the dairy farm, but the W.A. Govt, concerned about over-production of milk, brought in milk quotas, and that was the end of the dairy farming exercise.

Dad was also under-capitalised as well, so that made it even harder. And no bank would lend much money to dairy farmers, they were regarded as the epitome of poverty.


So, in debt and overworked and probably not thinking properly, he met up with a shark of a crooked real estate agent, who conned him into signing a lease-purchase agreement for the farm. But what Dad failed to realise was the purchase price was set at low 1957 land prices - but the lease agreement was for 5 years, until 1962 - when the purchase agreement could be activated, and the land bought for the price set 5 yrs previously!

Of course, by the time 1962 rolled around, the land value had increased about 10 times, thanks to rapid development in the region, and the release of the 1955 Stevenson-Hepburn Plan, which set the planning development of Perths Northern suburbs for the century to come.

I don't believe Dad even knew about the Stevenson-Hepburn Plan, or what it meant to land values in the region - but the crooked real estate agent knew! Funnily enough, after exercising his right to purchase, and us leaving the farm in 1962, the real estate agent was charged with multiple offences under the real estate laws - and he promptly committed suicide by driving his car into a tree!


After that losing exercise, Dad bought a house in the NE suburb of Bassendean, and got a job as a resident painter of the Palace Hotel in Perth - where he stayed quite happily until he retired at age 65, in 1971. I think he regarded that job as one of his best he had, and certainly the most secure.

Funnily enough, despite prospecting on Doolgunna, he never found anything of major note by way of gold - yet there's a massive gold mine in operation on Doolgunna, today! Dad probably walked and rode over that huge gold deposit, many times!


I think Dad made a pretty good go of life in his new chosen country, and he certainly produced some major worthwhile work output during his lifetime. He occasionally came across sneers about being a "Ten Pound Pom", with all the suggestions that they never paid their way properly - but I reckon both Dad and Mum repaid their cheap fares a thousand times over, in their pioneering efforts and hard work, developing the country.


Hi Onetrack,

I was just reading your story about your dad and got a bit of a surprise about where he had travelled. I was only just talking to someone about Doolgunna yesterday. When my sone was born in 1998 I lived in Carnarvon, we drove down to see my girlfriends mother in Kalgoorlie along the Highway to gin gin and across. After that we left to see my mother in Newman, according to my trusty readers digest map book ( that tall slender one they used to make) ther was a substantial short cut by leaving Leonora and making a turn before Meekatharra, it took you past a property called Doolgunna.

so I turned, in my. 1974 valiant charger, it was a bit rough by then with kangaroo hits and the like along with being lowered in the front, and high sprung at the rear with coil over shocks added. The name of that property has stuck with me forever. The road was pretty much non existent by then, ant hills, tussocks everywhere. I started doubting myself but came to a very derelict homestead. I got out, yelled and could see anyone. After 10 mins or so an old aboriginal man drove along in a rough Corolla wagon. He asked if I needed anything. When I explained he gave me directions drawn on the ground with a stick of all the land marks to look for. I thanked him and took off again. Very slow going, I found all of his landmarks, the last one on dark. It was a windmill tower. From there tracks went in every direction with tyre marks on all of them. I was stuffed. This was the edge of that property and the start of the next. I climbed that tower looking for lights, as the book showed the Highway travelling at a north east direction, I expected to see truck lights. nothing showed up. I had no water other than 2 baby bottles with us to be used. I tried to work north out from stars and took off again in a northerly direction (I hoped) after another long stint of guessing which forks to take I found a house with lights on, honking I took 10 minutes to get the owners attention above the generator noise. They gave me directions to make to the Highway which was another 20 minutes or so, they were shocked I made it the way I came. They recon the road hadn’t been used for around 40 years. It was midnight when I got to Newman, after 14 hours. 80 kms shortcut took around 5 hours.

that property has been in my thoughts so many times, it could of been disastrous with a 2.5 week old baby with me. The Highway run back took around 8 hours including stops.

I would like to see that country  again in a more appropriate vehicle.

Back a bit to the topic, both my grandparents were 10 pound poms, going from being a soldier to a police officer in SA, my grandfather got posted to some pretty remote places outback to be the only cop in town. Bit of a culture shock from England to Yunta and the like.





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1 hour ago, octave said:

We ended up in a new house in Elizabeth. Our street in Elizabeth was full of mainly British migrants. 

The impression I have of Elizabeth (not from actual experience) that it was set up to house the workers at the Holden plant. Just like so many Victorian industrial towns. Is it any wonder that the residents whinged, or donned rose-coloured glasses. The same factory work drudgery. No sandy surf beaches to escape from the heat of a Mediterranean summer. The wrong sort of football. Any interaction with Australians at work would have been with managers laying down the law and supressing unionism as best they could.

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Clinton, that's a worthy story, and shows how easily one can be caught out in remote areas, if one goes off without extensive preparation. One is reminded of the terrible Page family tragedy, a family of Poms who got careless in the Outback, and who all perished.

Yes, so many station tracks and roads are now overgrown, the W.A. Dept of Conservation (now the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions [DBCA]) has reverted all these marginal stations to Conservation Reserves.


But, as with all stupid Govt Depts, they are intent on erasing all signs of human habitation. So they destroy the windmills, fill in bores and wells, and dismantle station buildings, stop maintaining tracks and roads (even ripping them up) - saying they're man-made eyesores, and they don't fit in with Conservation Reserve status.

This is outright bloody-minded stupidity, it means people becoming lost have less chance of survival in the region, and it wrecks perfectly good infrastructure that waters native animals, as well as introduced ones.


Re getting lost in the area, Dad was a typical new-chum Pom in 1931, and he was fencing out the back of Doolgunna with a 70 yr old, tough old "bushie" fencer, who went by the name of Bill Bandy.

Dad didn't find out until much later, that this bloke was a former jailbird, working under an alias! But despite that murky background, Dad got on with him alright.

One afternoon, Dad was working by himself along a fenceline, and knocked off to go back to their camp in the bush. He set off along the fenceline, but took a turn into the bush, thinking he'd take a shortcut back to camp.


By the time a couple of hours went by, Dad realised he was lost, and it was dark. He stumbled around in the bush for another couple of hours, cursing his stupidity - when he saw this big glow just on the horizon.

He thought it was a big star initially, but then realised it was too big for a star - so he started walking towards it. As he got closer, he realised it was a big fire, set up about 5 or 6 metres off the ground in the fork of one of the bigger trees around.


As he got to the tree, there was Bill Bandy waiting for him! Bill, despite being 70, he'd climbed this tree quite a number of times, dragging branches with him, to build a platform of them in the tree at height - and had then lit them up, to act as a beacon!

Dad was extremely grateful, and quite amazed at what this old bloke had accomplished, and said if he hadn't done this fire beacon stunt, there's a good chance he would have perished. 


I pulled into Doolgunna in 1988, when it was still a working station, and I was travelling from Marble Bar back to Kalgoorlie. I can't recall the familys name who owned it then, but one of the things that struck me, was - I have a photo of the kitchen of Doolgunna from 1934, which Dad took - and the kitchen was still exactly the same in 1988, as it was in that 1934 photo!


Another interesting fact is that Dad owned and trained up a small camel team while he was water-boring - he used the camels to pull his dray, and his trailer-mounted (percussion) boring plant. The 2 wheel dray he owned, he purchased from Jimmy Howard in 1934.

I looked at the station records when I was there in 1988 - and there was the record, dated 1934, of Dad buying the dray off Jimmy Howard!

This dray was one of Alfred Cannings original drays, used in his 1908-1910 Canning Stock Route, well-sinking expedition! I have no idea where it ended up, probably rotted away on Doolgunna somewhere!

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Where the old aboriginal helped me was next to a large Coolgardie safe hut, he was some sort of caretaker from what he told me. I am surprised the homestead was in such disrepair when I seen it in 98 (only 10 years after you being there. Maybe it had been abandoned and ransacked or replaced with a newer dwelling somewhere else on the property. I didn’t see any sign of new activity on the road I came in on. I still have that map book. A bit tattered and obsolete with gps, phones and the like now.

I haven’t tossed because it was part of my adventures across WA. When I down size next year it might end up going.

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