Greek-Australian Minister for Multicultural Affairs and Citizenship, Nicholas Kotsiras, referred to Bonegilla Migrant Experience as the “birthplace of multiculturalism” in Australia, when he launched its latest exhibition, From Petronis and Ekaterina to Peter and Catherine: Greek Journeys Through Bonegilla on November 25.
Speaking to around 80 people, many from the local Greek community, Minister Kotsiras was sincere in explaining his own roots to Bonegilla.
Minister Kotsiras said the exhibition presented the experiences of Greek migrants, who stayed at Bonegilla, Australia’s largest post-war migrant reception centre.
Block 19 Bonegilla was originally an army camp during World War II was then converted into Bonegilla Migrant Reception and Training centre in 1947. It functioned as a place to process new arrivals, allocate jobs, and as a training centre where non-English speakers could begin to learn their new language and Australian customs.
Minister Kotsiras said that through personal stories, artifacts and gripping images, the exhibition detailed the story of migration through the eyes of Greek migrants.
The exhibition includes objects Greek migrants brought with them, including tools, costumes, musical instruments and passports, and features one of the first Greek families to arrive through the 500 Greek Farmers Project as part of Australia’s post-war mass immigration program.
The free exhibition is open at the Bonegilla Migrant Experience, seven days a week from 10am to 4pm.
The exhibition is a joint project between Wodonga Council and Albury Library Museum.