Journeys in Fairfield - A photographic exhibition

Published Monday, 27th March 2017

Cabramatta Migrant Hostel photograph

Fairfield City Open Libraries will host a photographic exhibition, Journeys in Fairfield, representing the many migrants that came through the Fairfield migrant hostels of Cabramatta and Villawood.

Fairfield City Open Libraries will host a photographic exhibition, Journeys in Fairfield, representing the many migrants from 1948-1982 that came through the Fairfield migrant hostels of Cabramatta and Villawood from 1 April at Whitlam Library, Cabramatta and from 1 May at Wetherill Park Library.

Mayor of Fairfield City Frank Carbone encourages residents to see the exhibition and experience a time in Australian history that shaped the face of modern multiculturalism.

“Many displaced people, migrants and refugees came through the Fairfield hostels following World War II, which served as the beginning of a new life in Australia for them.

“They all shared the common experience of hardship and displacement for a new beginning, something that many families in our Fairfield community can identify with.

“Residents will be able to reflect on both their own individual and shared experiences through the photographic exhibition,” Mayor Carbone said.

“This era was the beginning of a multicultural Australia and Fairfield City has continued to grow into one of the most diverse communities in the world,” Mayor Carbone said.

The photographs depict the many barriers that come with migrating to a new country such as learning new rules, language and culture, as well as dealing with social exclusion, isolation and the struggle for economic security.

Over 40,000 migrants passed through the Villawood Migrant Hostel alone between 1948 and 1952 where they had a newfound sense of freedom and a safe haven from their past.

New settlers were provided with basic housing at the hostels consisting of, Nissen huts made of metal bent into half a cylinder and planted into the ground. Two families shared each three room hut which served as a first home to migrants.

The hostels developed into a community where shops, banks and a post office were established and many regarded this as a happy time with new friends.

The exhibition discusses the experiences of migrants at the hostel, how some were recruited to assist with translations, catering, cleaning and laundry. It demonstrates the struggles and accomplishments of migrants settling into Australian life.

Photographs displayed in the exhibition were sourced from the Fairfield Open Libraries Heritage database and is available online