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Breakfast and luncheon menu card for the SS ASTURIAS

Date: 8 October 1951
Overall: 178 x 101 mm
Medium: Paper
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Gift from Michael Dobson
Object Name: Menu card
Object No: 00046933

User Terms

    This menu card relates to the migration of the Dobson family from England to Australia in 1951 on the Royal Mail liner RMS ASTURIAS, which carried thousands of post-war British migrants to Australia.
    SignificanceIn the aftermath of World War II, the Australian Government assisted more than one million Britons to emigrate to Australia in a bid to 'populate or perish.' With a Commonwealth document of identity and ASTURIAS passenger ticket in hand, the Dobsons started their new life away from the devastation of post-war Britain.
    HistoryJack Dobson was demobilised from the Royal Horse Artillery Regiment soon after the end of World War II. Jack was a bricklayer and spent much of the next few years away from his home in Newall, Otley in the Yorkshire Dales, restoring bomb-damaged buildings in Leeds and Bradford.

    In 1948 Jack, his wife Isobel and their two sons Bryan and Michael enjoyed their first family holiday at Butlins Holiday Camp in Filey, Yorkshire. It was here that Jack met some Australians, who presumably encouraged him to migrate to Australia. The Dobson family's application to migrate was approved in late 1950, and preparations were made to depart in March the following year.

    Michael Dobson recalls that his uncle Sam had arranged for the press to photograph the family as they departed City Station, Leeds. The photograph was subsequently published in the Evening Post and shows the family waving from the train under the headline 'Off to Australia.'

    The Dobsons arrived in London with enough time to walk to Waterloo Bridge and observe construction for the Festival of Britain (which officially opened on 3 May 1951) before boarding the train to Southampton. Michael remembers that tickets were not required for the journey as the train solely carried migrants headed for the Southampton docks. A document of identity issued in lieu of a passport by the Commonwealth of Australia on 16 February 1951 was sufficient for the family to travel, as all passengers were bound for Australia.

    The Dobsons sailed from Southampton on RMS ASTURIAS on 6 March 1951, on ticket number 305613. ASTURIAS was built by Harland & Wolff, Belfast for the Royal Mail Line in 1926. ASTURIAS made regular voyages to South America until 1939, when it was requisitioned and converted to an armed merchant cruiser. In 1943 it was torpedoed 400 miles from Freetown and beached. The hulk was sold to the Royal Navy in 1945 and towed to Gibraltar for repairs, and then to Belfast to be rebuilt as a troopship. ASTURIAS returned to service in 1946, carrying British migrants to Australia until 1953, when it was used to transport British troops to the Korean war zone. ASTURIAS was broken up in 1957.

    One month after departing Southampton, the Dobsons docked in Perth which, according to Michael, was "paradise" compared to war-torn Britain. "Here I sampled my first milkshake (banana). It was delicious."

    The family sailed on to Sydney, where they were transported by bus to Central Station to board a train to the migrant reception camp at Kelso, near Bathurst. Most migrants stayed at the Bathurst camp for a few weeks or months before being resettled elsewhere. Michael says, "We were there for 10 days, heaven for children but a nightmare for our parents."

    The Dobsons were transferred to Balgownie Migrant Hostel at Fairy Meadow, near Wollongong. Opened in 1951, Balgownie had 200 corrugated iron Nissen huts arranged around common dining rooms and laundry facilities. However Michael remembers, "The Hostel was so new the bathing facilities were not finished and the dining centre had no food. My mother was ready to pack and go home the first day. My father pointed out that as we were assisted migrants we had to stay two years or pay the full cost of the journey. Common sense prevailed and here I am nearly 60 years later."
    Additional Titles

    Assigned title: Breakfast and luncheon menu card for the SS ASTURIAS

    Web title: Breakfast and luncheon menu card from SS ASTURIAS

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