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Hopes and Fears: Australian Migration Stories

National Library of Australia

Hopes and Fears: Australian Migration Stories


Stories of migration are very much part of the Australian experience.

In most homes in Australia, you will find a bookcase, mantelpiece or shelf with a display of family photos. Intimate galleries chronical the individuals, both young and old, who populate the family tree. Sometimes the images reach back two or three generations, perhaps depicting a relative who embarked on a long and difficult journey to Australia. This treasured portrait testifies to how that journey helped make possible the life their family has today.

Why they decided to leave their home? What it was like to arrive in a strange new country? What were the hopes and fears that motivated them to recast their lives in such a dramatic way?

The history of migration to Australia consists of many individual stories of those who made the journey to Australia and their struggle to start a new life. To understand this history, you need to interrogate the evidence left from the past. The Hopes and Fears exhibition showcases a fascinating selection of these many and varied records from Australia’s migration history.

The stories are divided into six chapters, reflecting different stages of migration: The colonies; Gold and exploration; An outpost of the British race; Selling a dream; Becoming Australian; and Refugees. These take the reader from a song describing Australia as ‘the white man’s land’ in 1910 to a 1960s menu for the Rococo Lounge and Restaurant in St Kilda serving potato salad and gefilte fish to Jewish migrants to a photograph of Burundi refugee Kwirina weaving baskets in her Blacktown home in 2010.

Hopes and Fears accompanies an exhibition of the same name, and highlights some of these significant and diverse stories. With an essay from Director of Exhibitions, Guy Hansen, and discursive, interpretative captions, this book touches on a wide range of migration stories from throughout Australia’s history.

Published August 2024
96 Pages
230mm x 230mm
ISBN 9781922507648

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