So Much Sky: The Bonegilla Reception Centre, 1947-1971

Research output: Non-textual outputs, including Creative WorksCreative Works - Curation of Exhibition/Event/Festival


In the immediate post-war years Australia launched a bold immigration program to increase the size of its population. This interpretive booklet of a National Heritage Listed site, The Block 19 remnant of the Bonegilla Reception Centre on the NSW and Victorian borders near Albury-Wodonga, provides an examination of the National Heritage Listed site and the records associated with it in the context of post-war migration. It addresses and explains site heritage and museum collection significance. About 24 of what were once 834 huts in the Centre as a whole remain and their layout demonstrate the basic conditions typical of migrant reception places. Block 19 retains a strong sense of what the migrant experience would have been like. The Block 19 remnant, the collection and the oral and written records associated with the Centre are of National Significance. They demonstrate and illuminate a defining change in immigration, for the post-war shift from prioritising Anglo immigration sources transformed political and social expectations of the cultural diversity of Australia.The study is built on official records, close examination of the physical fabric and location of the heritage site, and extensive work on the migrant memorabilia and images in the Bonegilla Collection. The National Australian Archives holds official administrative records and migrant personal cards. Bonegilla Collection at Albury Library Museum is the principal holding of memorabilia and written and photographic evidence that underpins the collective memory of former residents providing first-hand observations that enliven understandings of arrival and settlement experiences. Together, the immigration records held at the National Australian Archives, the Block 19 site, and the Bonegilla Collection form a triptych that yields insights into post-war migrant and refugee experiences from differing angles. Through discussion and explanation of site heritage and museum collection significance the study prompts thinking about how Australia took and still takes in strangers.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationSydney
PublisherMigration Heritage Centre NSW, Powerhouse Museum, Sydney
SizeStudy of the heritage site of Bonegilla
Publication statusPublished - 2008
EventSo Much Sky: The Bonegilla Reception Centre, 1947-1971 -
Duration: 01 Jan 2008 → …


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