I was born in Heerlen and my family emigrated to Australia, (Brisbane) in 1956 when I was 3 years old.
My parents didn’t speak English but learned quickly in order to fit in. Upon arriving in Australia We travelled by train from Melbourne to Brisbane where we were lodged in the Wacol migrant hostel.
I have recollections of my father riding a bicycle into the city every day to look for work which would have been difficult with his limited command of English.
He eventually found employment as a cleaner in JC Pennys, a large department store in Queen St.
Because of the poor living standards in the Wacol Hostel my parents were keen to find better accomodation. Our first “Aussie” residence consisted of two large tents on a wooden floor on a semi rural block in suburban Richlands. There was no electricity, or toilets but we kids didn’t know any better and were happy.
As our circumstances improved so did our lifestyle until we were finally able to afford a mortgage to purchase our own home in Wacol in 1966.
I left school at grade 10 and was apprenticed to the Brisbane City Council as a motor mechanic.
I’ve been happily married since 1976, (to an Irish lady), raised a family and had many career changes.
For reasons which I can’t explain I’ve always considered myself as Australian but proudly of Dutch heritage. Despite not having the opportunity to speak Dutch regularly for a number of years I’m proud to say I can still converse quite well in my native tongue (unlike my two brothers).
Despite never had any formal training, (I taught myself) I can struggle through reading and struggle through writing.
I have only been back to Holland once in 1976 as a part of our honeymoon but have many fond memories.