Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Schools and Centres

Arts & Sciences

First Supervisor

Dr Deborah Gare


This work is a unique contribution to the history of Western Australia. Over a million people left the British Isles to migrate to Australia during the 1960s. One hundred thousand migrants, not all of whom were British, came on the Castel Felice, one of the many ships travelling between Europe and Australia in the post-war movement of peoples. My thesis addresses the question of what motivated those who left Britain to do so at that time, for in Britain there were improving housing conditions, generally full employment, an impressive national social security system and the active social experience of the ‘swinging 60s’. My thesis then questions whether the reality of life in Australia matched the better life they expected for their children and themselves. Often they became known as ‘whingeing Poms’. Some of the participants in my study felt that information given to prospective migrants in the 1960s with regard to housing and employment was exaggerated. Many who had left Britain in this period gave up modern homes, friends and relatives to come to a country where it seemed that the insects were more welcoming than its people and where, to many, the housing appeared to be primitive, work difficult to find and the public transport system untenable. Was there a reason for the ‘whingeing’? Finally, responses from migrants that have now returned to live in the United Kingdom are analysed. There have been many books written on the migration phenomenon, and many which address the problems of assimilation to the Australian way of life by people from other nations. This thesis considers why in the 1960s British migrants made the decision to migrate, their experiences in the process of leaving, the voyage, the arrival, and why they eventually settled in Western Australia. It does so by assessing the responses of more than 100 people to a questionnaire: A survey of migrants arriving in Western Australia during the 1960s, and the information given by others who participated in an oral history interview. Some of the respondents had first migrated to one of the eastern states of Australia but later decided to settle in Western Australia. Interesting stories of the parting from home and the experiences on the voyage are followed by their memories of what happened to them on arrival in Western Australia, where they went, who they met and where they settled. Most of the participants stayed in the city and suburbs, but some went to the bush. In some cases they returned to live in the United Kingdom. Sherington estimates that 25% of all migrants who came to Australia in the 1960s returned to their homeland.

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