On arrival in Australia, many migrants went to migrant reception and training centres where they learned some English while they looked for a job. The Department of Immigration was responsible for the camps and kept records on camp administration and residents.
Among the camps were Bonegilla, Benalla, Rushworth and Somers in Victoria, Greta and Kapooka in New South Wales, Stuart and Wacol in Queensland and Northam Holden, Graylands and Cunderdin in Western Australia.
Not many records of these migrant 'camps' have survived, but those that have can provide information about the migrants. The National Archives holds cards for all of the migrants who stayed at the Bonegilla reception and training centre. The Bonegilla cards usually include a physical description of the person, as well as a photograph.
What migrant accommodation records do we have?
Migrant workers hostels were run by the Department of Labour and National Service and later Commonwealth Hostels Limited.
Sample accommodation records
You can see a sample of a record from the Bonegilla migrant reception and accommodation center in our postwar migration records showcase.