Records relating to Dutch migration held in Sydney – Fact sheet 156

The continuing tradition of Dutch association with Australia began with explorers such as Dirk Hartog and Abel Tasman. In spite of having the highest return rate of all Australian migrants, people from the Netherlands currently represent about 2.6 per cent of the overseas-born population in Australia. Approximately half of these migrants live in New South Wales.

Immigration and naturalisation records

Many Dutch people migrated to Australia in the wake of World War II. Many Dutch people lost their lives during the German occupation and Allied bombing and as Europe was facing economic and social devastation, survivors were encouraged by the Dutch and Australian governments to come to Australia. The Netherlands Australia Migration Agreement (NAMA) of 1951 facilitated the immigration of Dutch people to Australia, including those residing in the Netherlands East Indies.

Passenger lists

Passenger lists for boats and aircraft arriving in Australia provide general personal information. Many ships, including the Groote Beer, Johan van Oldenbarnevelt, Nelly, Sibajak, Skaubryn and Waterman, and some KLM flights, were specially chartered to carry migrants from the Netherlands. For more information see – Passenger records held in Sydney. Note that unless you know the name of the vessel and the approximate date of arrival, searching passenger records can be very time consuming.

Migrant selection documents and other relevant material

Many migrants applied for assisted passage to Australia during the post World War II migration boom. The forms they completed are known as migrant selection documents. A large number of Dutch migrant selection documents can be found in series A2478, which is held in Canberra. For more information see Fact Sheet 66 – Migrant selection documents held in Canberra.

Book 15 of series SP606/2, which is held in Sydney, contains schedules of Dutch migrants nominated for assisted passages by their families or fiancees for the period 1950 to 1957.

Naturalisation records

The Sydney office holds naturalisation files for persons naturalised in New South Wales after 1951. Naturalisation papers for all naturalisations between 1904 and 1951 (including those conducted in New South Wales) are held in our Canberra office.

General immigration correspondence

Series C3939 and SP1122/1 contain material relating to New South Wales immigration matters. Examples of items from these series relating to Dutch migration are listed below.

Collection references

 Title or description of recordDate rangeSeries number
ItemMigrant vessel SS Skaubryn from Rotterdam, departure date 5 January 1952 to Australia1952SP1122/1, N1952/24/217 Part 1
ItemImmigration – Dutch migrants from Indonesia1958C3939, N1958/75079

Migrant accommodation centres

From 1945, Commonwealth hostels and camps were used to house newly arrived migrants. Many Dutch migrants spent time in camps at Bathurst (until its closure in 1954), Scheyville and Nelson Bay. Check items lists for the series below to find records about these camps and the experiences of Dutch residents.

Collection references

 Title or description of recordDate rangeSeries number
SeriesCorrespondence, Migrant Workers' Accommodation Division1948–52SP446/1
SeriesCorrespondence, Migrant Workers' Accommodation Division1949–54SP446/2

Photographic records of the Dutch in Australia

The Commonwealth Advertising Division and Commonwealth Hostels Limited compiled photographs documenting the migration experience in Australia. Photographs of Dutch migrants include:

Collection references

 Title or description of recordDate rangeSeries number
ItemPhotographs of the Nelson Bay Migrant camp1951C5102, 1
ItemFormer Dutch sea captain now Australian storekeeper1954ST1583/2, S4654–S4656 [Box 11A]
ItemDutch teenager wins beauty contest in Sydney1954ST1583/2, S4771–S4773 [Box 11A]

Alien registration papers

For many years, all aliens (non-naturalised residents of Australia) were required to register with local authorities. Series held in Sydney containing aliens registrations for New South Wales are as follows:

Collection references

Netherlands East Indies (NEI)

Three hundred and fifty years of Dutch rule over the NEI effectively ended with the Japanese invasion in 1942, and formally came to a close in 1949. During the years of World War II, many Dutch servicemen saw service in Australia. Many Dutch residents of the NEI were evacuated to Australian shores, while the Japanese interned many others.

Talks scripts in Australian Broadcasting Commission (ABC) series SP300/3 provide an insight into the wartime experience in the NEI. A number of the talks focus on Lili Kraus, a Hungarian pianist who regularly toured Australia for the ABC. She was interned along with Dutch nationals resident in the NEI for the duration of the war.

Collection references

 Title or description of recordDate rangeSeries number
ItemBombing of Japanese installations in Dutch New Guinea1944SP300/3, 255
ItemThe Dutch are Hitting Back1945SP300/3, 230
ItemInterview – POW in Java (Lili Kraus)1945SP300/3, 231
ItemInterview – POW in Java (Daughter of Lili Kraus)1946SP300/3, 232
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