Husband and wife, Hank and Bertie Halle were both born in 1933. He in Deventer as Hendrik Halle, she in Zaandam as Egberta Westervaarder.
Hank’s father was a well-known Dutch footballer and trainer, Jan Halle. Jan and his brother, Leo, famous as the ‘Lion of Deventer’, both played for the Dutch national soccer team, nicknamed “Oranje” (orange). Hank had one sister.
Bertie’s father was a nightwatchman, and she had one brother and two sisters. Hank and Bertie are the only ones in their family who migrated to Australia.
Bertie attended the “handelsschool” (trade school) studying retail in Zaandam, and Hank studied accounting at a handelsschool in Deventer. When he was 16, Hank’s family moved to Zaandam because his father changed employers.
Bertie and Hank met at the athletics club in Zaandam, and both are very much into sports. Bertie played volleyball, threw shot put and ran on the track, while Hank played soccer for AZ Alkmaar, and also ran 200m and 400m track.
Before they got married, Hank had done his two years of military service, while Bertie worked in an office in Amsterdam. Their reasons for migrating were the economic and housing situation in the Netherlands, the advertising for migrants by the Australian government and the climate in Queensland. They wanted to escape cold and windy Netherlands.
They were both 23 when they married in 1956, and in December of that same year they sailed to Australia on the Johan van Oldenbarnevelt. They both spoke English, thanks to the handelsschool.
Upon arrival in Brisbane, they stayed at the Wacol migrant centre for two months, and then moved into a flat in New Farm. Bertie found a job in the perfume section of David Jones in the city, and Hank worked a variety of jobs as factory worker, gardener, a clerk at Elders and publican at the Morningside Hotel. Meanwhile he was completing his finance and accountancy studies.
In 1965 a son was born, Mark. That same year they moved to a lovely house in Carina, on the east side of Brisbane. They lived in that house, enjoying their own swimming pool, for 50 years.
Bertie has a flair for fashion, and after some years at home with their growing baby son and then toddler, she went back to work when he went to kindergarten. She got a job co-managing a women’s dress shop in the Rose Arcade in inner city Brisbane, together with its owner. She worked there for eight years.
In 1968 Hank got a job as an accountant with Hans’ Smallgoods, a company in Morningside that was started by Dutchman Hans van der Drift. Hank worked for them for 31 years, becoming a Director and Company Secretary. He retired in 1999.
Both Bertie and Hank love sports, all kinds of sports. Hank played football (soccer) with the Brisbane City Football Club, (nicknamed Azzurri), and the Qld state team. And neither of them will miss an important soccer match on TV.
They both love the climate in SE Qld and spent most of their annual vacations on the Sunshine and Gold Coasts. They did travel back to Netherlands only four times, to visit family. Other overseas travel was to New Zealand, Hong Kong and Singapore.
Hank got involved with the Dutch Prins Willem Alexander Village, when he met Steve Flierman through his work. Hank was already aware of the project through his acquaintance with Henk Mollee of the Hollandia soccer club. Steve convinced Hank to become the accountant on the founding team.
Hank didn’t think he was interested in going to live in the Village, but agreed to be on the Board with Henk Mollee and Steve Flierman. None of the three are still on the board and the administrative structure of the Village has changed, in response to changes in legislative and financial regulations.
After a number of years of involvement with the Village, observing the community spirit in the village, and being aware that managing their own home was becoming a bit of a burden, Hank and Bertie decided to move into PWA Village in 2015. They have since made many friends among their neighbours, Dutch or not Dutch.
They don’t really miss anything about Netherlands. The Village has a shop with Dutch foods, but they rarely buy Dutch goodies, even though Bertie volunteers at the village shop. Hank and Bertie are actively going for daily walks and both still drive. Covid permitting, they visit the Carindale shops every week.
Both Hank and Bertie feel good about their migrant experience. They liked Australia from their very first arrival, and they still do. In the early years Bertie found it a bit peculiar that women would get dressed up to go shopping or to go watch a parade. Hats, stockings and gloves seemed a bit much to her in the hot sun. Of course, those habits are long gone, these days people wear jeans and T-shirts for almost everything.
They are happy to be living in Qld, their son lives in New Farm, Brisbane, and owns a real estate business specialising in child care facilities, and their grandson is studying Business at Griffith University. Both Hank and Bertie worked hard and they say it paid off. They are now enjoying a well-deserved retirement.
Marianne Pietersen (September 2021)