Nissen huts, boiled mutton, bottled milk and helping hands. For many migrants after World War II, for better or worse, hostels were their first ‘homes’. Rekindle memories with vivid photographs.

A Place to Call Home? Migrant hostel memories is a photographic exhibition showcasing images from the National Archives Immigration Photographic Archive, held in series A12111. The photographs cover a wide variety of department activities: migrant arrivals and milestone migrants, citizenship and naturalisation ceremonies, community events and migrants settling into homes and jobs. The photographs were intended for promotional use in both Australia and home countries of potential migrants. The earliest photograph is 1927, and the latest are in the 1990s. The majority of the images fall between the 1950s and 1970s.

It was as important for Australians to accept the migrant communities as it was for migrants to want to come to Australia. The photographs show Australia as a safe and inviting place to live, but they also show migrants as hard-working and community-minded. Photographs of children feature heavily on both sides of the coin – Australia is a safe place to raise your young children, and migrants are just like regular Australians, who want the best for their young families. The images of hostels taken by the Department of Immigration photographs mirror these dual purposes. Photographs of children waving cheerfully, young men going off to work, and politicians ruffling children’s hair appeal to both groups: Australian's see contributors with family values, and migrants see a safe place to raise a family and find a job.

More details

Contact name: Hinkler Hall of Aviation
Contact phone: 07 4130 4400
Contact email: