Issue 3 Migration Heritage Project Newsletter June 2004
In this issue:
- MHP Telstra & Uptown Crown Street
- Fairy Meadow Migrant Hostel
- MHP Objects Workshop
- At a glance
MHP, TELSTRA & UPTOWN CROWN (STREET)
For many people in Wollongong the Post Office on Crown Street
was part of their regular mail stop.
For some years it has been empty and is located in a part of
Crown Street that is being revitalised by Uptown Crown –
a partnership between the State government and Wollongong City
The street frontage of the building is being reused with the help
of Telstra Chief Executive Mark McKenzie and Telstra staff. Their
support has been generous, making the window space available as
a public gallery and funding the instalation of lighting and fittings
The windows are lit up in the evening. The inaugural show at
the new Windows Gallery is the 2003 exhibition, produced by the
Migration Heritage Project – Celebrations: Spirit of Communities.
The Windows Gallery was launched on Friday 30 April by the Lord
Mayor of Wollongong, Alex Darling.
Gregor Cullen, lecturer in the Faculty of Creative Arts, UOW and
member of the MHP, is excited at the potential of the gallery
for future exhibitions, including moving images. “We have
an understanding in place with Telstra to use the space for 12
months. There is the potential for the space to be used as a Digital
Gallery and we are discussing what this would be and how Telstra
and the University can support the idea.
For the MHP the second public showing of the exhibition means
more people can see the colourful panels which made up the exhibition,
originally shown at the Wollongong City Gallery in September 2003.
Walk or drive by, and catch up on how five of the many Wollongong
cultural groups and families in the region, celebrate significant
The several remaining buildings
of the Fairy Meadow migrant hostel are now officially on the NSW
State Heritage Register.
The University of Wollongong Innovation Campus is going to be
built on the hostel site in Fairy Meadow within sight of Puckeys
Estate. The site was home to a migrant hostel between the 1950's
There are several hostel buildings left - the only physical evidence
in the Illawarra of this period of history. A heritage study noted
that there are no known Aboriginal heritage constraints on the
site but if construction activity should identify aboriginal relics,
work should cease until an appropriate course of action is decided
These remaining buildings will be kept on site. The two smaller
ones will be moved alongside the large hut (formerly the science
centre). The buildings will be refurbished and are intended for
use as a general purpose meeting room by University organizations
and student groups; office accommodation for UoW staff and science
centre support facilities and student/recreation games room.
Before relocation and refurbishment can begin, an interpretation
plan must be submitted to Wollongong City Council. This plan will
show how the significance of the site is to be interpreted, for
example through signage.
The work on the buildings must be completed by 10 February 2006,
unless an extension is sought and granted (by WCC). The DA recommends
“that the former residents of the Balgownie Migrant Hostel
be consulted in the preparation of the interpretation plan”.
Business owners and owner managers
Did you or do you know someone who owned a shop in Wollongong'
s central business district in the 20th century? If you have information,
contact the Illawarra Museum. They are collecting information
as part of their current exhibition, Shopkeepers and businesses
of 20th century Wollongong on at the Illawarra Museum until the
end of 2004. They want information such as names of people who
were owner-managers, the name of the business, what the business
was, who was employed and when the business closed. The Illawarra
Historical Society is also interested in any old phone books people
may still have.
Illawarra Museum opening times
11 Market Street Thursday 12 – 3 pm
Weekends and Public Holidays 1-4 pm
Telephone: 4228 7770
MHP OBJECTS WORKSHOP
RINA MONTGOMERY (FILIPPI)
Cooking Pot brought from Italy by
Mistica Filippi (Rina' s mother) in 1929.
Use to be used for cooking over fire in Italy.
Sewing machine bought in Wollongong
from a Mrs Bartelli in the 1930s
Rina being interviewed by Arthur Mandico
at the Objects Workshop (May 2003)
Spaghetti maker brought from Italy
Wine Cask was owned by a Mr Filippi
(no relation) who use to sell wine in Wollongong.
Wine cask was found by Rina when clearing out her father' s home
Filippi family photograph Antonio,
Mistica, Alvise (Buzza), Giacomo and Rina Filippi.
T aken at James Studio Wollongong1930
In a garage situated in a Wollongong suburb is a treasure
trove of kitchen
and household items
RINA MONTGOMERY is a clever woman, she had the forsight to know
were important to her family history and to the history of migrant
settlement in the Illawarra. In the Migration Heritage Project
Committee is a treasure of a woman who has so many items and memories
of migrant settlement in the Illawarra. Put these treasures together
and we have our inaugural Objects Workshop.
Rina Montgomery (nee Filippi) is that clever woman and the Migration
Heritage Project' s own treasure, inspiration and motivation that
drives the committee to gather all information it can on migrants
in the Illawarra. Rina was kind enough to share her objects and
memories at the Objects Workshop that was held on 4 March 2004.
The many people who attended, including many of Rina's family
and friends, were privileged to share in her knowledge of the
Wollongong she grew up in, known then as Steeltown, from as early
as 1929 and see the many objects she has kept.
The workshop started with the Chairperson, Franca Facci, giving
an overview of the Migration Heritage Project and the Project's
achievements to date such as the Celebrations: Spirit of Communities
Exhibition and Public Program held last year and the public forum
held which contributed to the listing of the Fairy Meadow Hostel
as a site of significance. This was followed by Rina' s presentation
as she took us through a slide show of early photographs of her
family, home and the Port Kembla, Cringila and Warrawong areas.
Rina then displayed her objects starting with her father' s scythe
sharpener, followed by a coffee bean roaster, spaghetti maker,
wine cask, cooking pot and sewing machine. At the conclusion of
Rina' s presentation the participants enjoyed asking Rina about
her growing up years in Steeltown.
Thanks to Rina the Migration Heritage Project has started its
database of migrant objects in the Illawarra and the Project hopes
to continue these workshops focusing on the different nationalities
who settled in Wollongong.
This is a photograph taken at Balgownie Hostel with me, my son
and daughter born in Italy, my son born in Argentina and my new
baby son, born at the hostel in 1961. I was born in Treviso (meaning
three faces) in the province of Veneto in northern Italy. I spoke
Italian – the Veneto dialect.
My heritage is Italian – my father came from Rovigo and
my mother from Udine province.I arrived in Melbourne, Australia
on 4 March 1961 with my husband and children, leaving Italy from
We brought our things in 7 trunks – things like a gas stove,
2 push bikes, a step ladder that my son still has; clothes, a
radio cassette player, a typewriter, bamboo carpet beater, and
a lot of books which were stolen soon after we arrived. On arriving
at Wollongong, my husband recollects “If I was alone I would
go back straight away. We were disappointed even during the trip
coming here. It was very bad. In Italy they didn' t tell us it
was necessary to speak the language. My daughter spoke English
she had learnt in school. For the first few months she had to
listen very hard to understand what people were saying.
What do you do now? We are still working very hard. We are retired
but do a lot of community work.
Interview with Giulia and Efrem Bonacina 3 April 2004
AT A GLANCE
The Migration Heritage Project (MHP) has been working steadily
to progress the aims of the strategic plan, which was drafted
in the early months of the year. Highlights include:
- Funding for the production of a brochure on migration heritage
in the Illawarra. Meredith Walker drafted this document and
now with the $4000 grant from the Migration Heritage Centre,
we will be able to complete it.
- The installation of the Celebrations: Spirit of Communities
panels in the Telstra building as part of the up town Crown
project (see main article)
- The finalisation of the strategic plan for the MHP
Negotiations to employ a new project officer to commence in
May – June
- The conduct of a workshop featuring historical objects owned
by Rina Montgomery (Filippi) at Italian Social Welfare
- Planning for a workshop with the Maltese Community on the
15th June 2004
- Invitation and funding to attend a workshop as part of the
National Library' s Multicultural Documentary Heritage Project.
Fidelia Pontarolo will be the MHP representative, attending
on the 9 – 10 June.
- Production of a regular newsletter
- Development of the MHP website which will be on line in the
Do you have a story to tell? Can
you contribute in any way to the evergrowing list of assignments
the Migration Heritage Project would like to complete to honour
our migrants who settled in the Illawarra? Come join the Migration
Heritage Project and form part of a community group that is dedicated
to preserving and documenting the history of migrants in the Illawarra.
We need your support and help as we continue with the many projects
we hope will record our Wollongong Migrants' history for all the
people of the Illawarra to learn about as well as the future generations
of your own family members.
Would you like to become a member of the Migration Heritage Project?
Membership forms are available from Wollongong City Library or
you can write to the address below and a membership form will
be sent to you in the mail.
Migration Heritage Project Inc.
PO Box 1589
South Coast Mail Centre NSW 2521
Joining Fee (individual): $5.00 ($2.00 pensioners)
Annual Fee (individual): $10.00 ($5.00 pensioners)
(Total of $15.00 ($7.00 for pensioners) upon joining)
Joining Fee (organisations) $10.00
Annual Fee (organisations) $10.00
(Total of $20.00 upon joining)
Joining fees payable within fourteen days of receipt of advice
of membership approval
Annual fees payable by 30 June of each year
We would love you to join but you don' t have to be a member to
Club photographs, committee files, trophies …what to do
A special workshop will be held at the George Cross Falcons Club
at 7.00 pm on Tuesday 15 June 2004 at 25 Lake Avenue Cringila.
Two MHP members and Lorraine Vargas, the Maltese community worker
have established a heritage project – documenting the history
of the Maltese in Wollongong. At the workshop you will find out
how a club or cultural group can begin collecting and recording
information about people, places, events and buildings. Come along
to find out how to go about it and collect a documentary starter
kit. For more information contact the MHP on 4251 4709 or at email@example.com.
Fidelia Pontarolo will also just be back from attending a two
day workshop at the National Library, on Documenting Multicultural
Heritage. Contact Fidelia if you are interested in this project,
or starting something locally on 0438832094.
New project officer starts work on migration heritage register.
Tania Mastroianni has just joined the MHP as project officer.
She will spend May and June this year contacting and meeting with
cultural groups in Wollongong. The MHP wants to find out what
has been written, recorded, and created about migrant history.
She will be working three days a week in Cultural Services, in
the Integral Energy building at 81-83 Burelli Street. If you have
any information about past migrant projects contact Tania on 4251
4710 at Cultural Services. This information will be collected
in one place and form the foundation of a heritage database.