Thousands of people who moved to Australia from Europe in the wave of migration that followed World War II started out their new lives at the Fairy Meadow migrant hostel.
Finding themselves together in a strange land, many formed tight bonds that have carried through the years - this month, dozens of people who lived at the hostel in the late 1960s and early 70s met in Corrimal for a 50th year reunion.
Horsley resident Lynn Richards (nee Oxtaby) was 10 years old when she, her parents and her two brothers moved out from Yorkshire under the 'Ten Pound Pom' scheme in 1967.
"I think they wanted a better life for us," Lynn said, with her mother having heard that Australia offered beautiful beaches, a laid-back lifestyle, and warmer weather.
Upon their arrival in Wollongong, they were moved into a Nissen hut at the Fairy Meadow (originally Balgownie) hostel, where the University of Wollongong's Innovation Campus now sits.
Lynn recalls her parents clearing out the hut when they first arrived because it wasn't clean, and seeing cockroaches for the first time.
"I remember Mum crying and saying, 'Oh God, what have we done?'" she said.
Lynn said even going to school was a big change and they were "shocked" they had to take their meals to school and eat outside in the quadrangle, rather than having a cooked dinner in the hall.
The migrant children were ostracised, she said, with the Australian children saying people from England were dirty and calling their accents "weird".
The Oxtaby family spent about three months at the hostel before moving into a house nearby.
But Lynn continued to spend a lot of time at the hostel, where she had made friends.
"Those friends then became an extended family, because you didn't have a family," she said.
One of those friends is Gail Keogh, who came to Australia with her parents in 1970 at the age of 16.
She did not even know her parents planned to move across the world until the immigration papers came in the mail, but her plea to stay in England and live with an aunt was knocked back.
"Where the bloody hell have you brought me?" was Gail's reaction when she arrived, following a six-week journey on a ship.
Gail's parents, like Lynn's, found the hostel a shock - she recalls they sat down and cried upon their arrival at Fairy Meadow.
After a short-lived job at a jeweller in Crown Street, a 16-year-old Gail took up a position in the Post Office Pharmacy in Corrimal.
A Yorkshire girl, she said she could not understand the Australian accent and spent most of her time running between the counter and the dispensary repeating what customers had said.
"They were on the floor laughing because I could parrot back what was said to me, but I bloody couldn't understand a word of it," Gail said.
Sue Hartley, formerly Steuart, also moved to Australia in 1970, when she was 12, with her parents and three siblings.
"I think the opportunity over at the steelworks came up, they were asking for migrants to come over and pick up jobs... and it was a better lifestyle for kids," Sue said.
She perceived Australia as a place of beaches and "kangaroos everywhere".
The name Fairy Meadow sounded quaint too, she said, so the hostel and its huts came as a shock.
"But there were so many kids there, I think it was probably harder for parents... We could see this adventure," Sue said.
The family shared the Nissen hut with another family, each living in one half, and ate their meals in the communal canteen.
The Steuart family stayed there about 15 months, although were fortunate to move into new brick units on the site.
They were then placed in a housing commission home in Dapto, the area Sue still calls home.
She believes her parents would be proud of what their children, and subsequently grandchildren, have gone on to achieve.
"We were all brought over for a better life, and we've all done that," Sue said.
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