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Goodbye to My Country

Updated on August 6, 2018

Saying goodbye to our loved ones and our country

A ship full of migrating people ready to say goodbye to their loved ones and their country of origin. This is how it was in those times when I left Italy, people had to move from one country to another overseas by ship.
A ship full of migrating people ready to say goodbye to their loved ones and their country of origin. This is how it was in those times when I left Italy, people had to move from one country to another overseas by ship.

Saying goodbye Italy my native country

Welcome to our article ((1G2) (27)), Goodbye Italy my native country

And goodbye Genzano di Lucania my native town

Dear readers, this is my second group of Hub-Pages articles. In the first group I was telling you my life-story when I was young in Italy. Now, starting with when I left Italy, as the title of this article suggests, ‘Goodbye to my country’, we are going to write here a group of articles dealing with my life in Australia and what I did. Hoping that you find them interesting enough to read, especially those DIY articles about housing and building work, and how to own a house, etc. So, we will start with our journey, from Italy to Australia; starting from the time when I left Italy, my journey to Australia; and then, most of the things I experienced in Australia. So, let us begin to tell you this part of my life story.

From Italy to Australia

We all know that in our life time, we must make many decisions according to what is happening around us, one of these decisions I had to make when I was young, when I decided to migrate to Australia. Here we need to say that in those times to migrate from one country to another was a very serious decision, therefore, one had to make sure that one really needed to move from where you were. This was not easy to do, because the generations before us usually stayed all their life in the towns were they were born, only a few ventured to migrate, because moving from one country to another was thought to be dangerous and also took a very long time, so, for me and for all those that wanted to migrate was not an easy decision to make, but in the end everyone has to make his own decisions, so, after thinking it over, I decided to migrate to Australia, since my brother was already in Australia and he said that it was good. So, I said goodbye to my Italian motherland and migrated to Australia.

Today to understand the reasons why I migrated to Australia in the sixties, one has to read some of those articles I have written in hub pages, or at least one of our earlier articles called, Farming today compared to the old way, where you could compare how hard it was in those days to earn a living in the farms, when one compare that to the modern ways of farming especially here in Australia, well at least it seems so to us, because we hear only the positive things of farming.

Anyhow, today the decision to emigrate would have been easier to make, because nowadays people move from one country to another easily, so, to migrate from one place to another is a normal way of life; but it was not so a while ago, in fact, if we go back a hundred years or so, most people used to live in their own native town all their lives, and a few of them never even saw another town even when they were close bye, then life was very different and people accepted that they would live and die in the same town that they were born. Today life is different and we find it easier to move from one town to another and even from one country to another and this is what I have done in my life time, I moved from Italy to Australia.

As we have already mentioned above, there are times in our lives when we have to say goodbye to the dearest things in our lives; and I can tell you that it is not an easy thing to do; but the events that happen at those times help you to make up your own mind, every one of us has got to decide what to do during our lives, whether one would like to stay put in the native town that one is born, or move somewhere else in the hope of living a better life.

I would like to sum what I am saying thus, when people move from one country to another it has become necessary for them to do something about it, because where they are and what they are doing has no future in it, and in extreme cases may even be dangerous to stay; of course I wasn’t in danger, so, this was not my case, because I was only looking for a better life in the future, as what I was doing seemed to go down as the time went by, so, I decided to leave my family farm in my native country of Italy to migrate to Australia.

Here-under is an account of my leaving my country of Italy; in order to explain that and keep my life story written in a chronological way, I am going to write a bit more about my last time working in the farm, and then when I had to leave the farm, first I had to go in the army to serve my country and then leaving Italy altogether to come to Australia, and my voyage in a ship called the Sydney that in those times was taking passengers to Australia, I will be telling you what impression Australia made on me when I arrived. Of course, I am going to be brief about all this, as there is a lot to tell, if I try to tell you everything in details. So, now let me explain my position why I left Italy.

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Photo of army soldiers, Italy

This is just a photo of some soldiers in the army, I have been in the army to serve my country as required when I was young.
This is just a photo of some soldiers in the army, I have been in the army to serve my country as required when I was young.
Map of Italy, I was born in southern Italy and embarked at Naples to go to Australia.
Map of Italy, I was born in southern Italy and embarked at Naples to go to Australia.

Explaining my position

Explaining my position and the reasons of my migration

Now, to understand fully the reasons of my leaving Genzano di Lucania my native town, it is not easy, because there were many issues and most of all was that it was very hard to earn a living in the farms, especially when we had lean harvests, but even when we had average harvests life was hard. But that is not all; you see, the ways of working in the farms was changing and there was less need of man hours work as the tractor and other machines were coming in, so, either we had to buy these machines or we had to move out of farming, for us to buy those machines was out of reach, as our farm was not big enough; and last and most important of all was that the very last year that I worked in the farm we had a very poor harvest, in fact we made so little wheat that it could not cover the cost of buying the seeds we had sown.

All these facts put together made me see that I would be wasting my time to work in the farms, like my forbears had done for hundreds of years before me, so, I took the opportunity to migrate to Australia, as my elder brother had done before me, and he was saying that in Australia there are good opportunities to find a job and earn good money compared to farming.

But before I could migrate to Australia I was called to serve in the army, you see in Italy all able males over 21 should serve in the army, so, I went to serve in the army as prescribed by the Italian laws. I served in the army and when the army let me go I migrated to Australia.

You see, there was no way I would return to work in the farm, because farming is hard work and there is no security in it; because every year it depends if you have a good harvest. So, it can work only if you own enough land, but even then, it might not work out, there are lots of expenses, when I was there, there were also taxes on the land you owned, irrespective if that year you made money or not; it is a risky business. Talking of risky business, while I am editing this article here; in Australia a lot of farmers are going broke, because of the drought, some of these farmers are so desperate that they become suicidal; the Australian government trays to help a bit, but they cannot fully help, because of the assets test. You see, if you own this land you are rich; therefore, you are not entitled to be helped from the government, even when you work your guts out and earned nothing the hole year. This is like Italy in the fifties, you had to pay taxes even if you had made no money. This is the reason why I left farming and Italy. Anyhow, let us go back to talk about leaving my country and going to Australia.

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Port of Naples and some views

Ship docked in the port of Naples waiting to sail somewhere, this is one of the last sights one remember all life long.
Ship docked in the port of Naples waiting to sail somewhere, this is one of the last sights one remember all life long.
Some important buildings near the port of Naples
Some important buildings near the port of Naples
Naples is a very interesting town, this is a door of the old Naples
Naples is a very interesting town, this is a door of the old Naples

Leaving Italy for Australia

Goodbye Italy, I am leaving for Australia

In those times to emigrate was not easy, there was a lot of paperwork to go through and other things, even paying your fare was not easy, since it was a lot of money, when we had no money and we had to borrow it.

Anyhow, when all was ready, I had to embark, so we had to go to Naples. I remember that my mother with a friend came with me to Naples to farewell me when I left Italy. I suppose it was very hard for my mother to let me go away from the family farm, but it had to be done, because we had debits we owed too much money, so, we the young and strong members of the family had to find a way how to pay our debits, in order to find a way how to pay your debits sometimes you had to borrow more money, as it was in my case, because I had to pay my fare myself and that was a lot of money. Anyhow, as I have said before one of the options was to migrate make enough money to pay our debits and then return home to live a better life. Well at least that was as my mother would have liked it to be, but it did not work that way for us for many reasons. Anyhow it was the year 1961 when I left Italy and embarked on the ship Sydney for Australia. I have to say that when you leave a place that you know well for a place where you have never been it seems an adventure, starting with walking up to the ship deck for the first time and looking at all those things that you have never seen before.

In those times voyages that took a long like going to Australia would worry people, so, old folks like my mother was worried, because the voyage from Italy to Australia would take one month by ship and in those times really that was the only way available to come to Australia.

Anyhow we are in Naples with my mother and her friend, who had a couple of sons in Australia already, we went on the ship and after visiting the ship, my mother and her fried went back on the dock, they stayed on the dock waiting to say goodbye. Anyhow, I embarked on the ship and this ship is going to take me to Australia a faraway land, I wonder how it is going to turn out because I have never been to sea before, I also cannot swim and this worries me a bit but not so much, because I know that most of the other passengers cannot swim as well, so, we are all in the same boat, so to speak and also in reality, because we are all in the same ship. Anyhow, I am on this ship liner Called the Sydney and the ship is about to depart from Naples; the ship makes this low strange sound a couple of times and we see that it is slowly moving away from the sore. We all look for our relatives and friends and wave goodbye until they become so small in the distance that we could not recognize them.

And after that many thoughts came to our minds and we were saying within ourselves; goodbye mother, Goodbye my friends, goodbye Italy, goodbye Genzano my native town, who knows when I will be able to see you again; and thus the journey begins to unfold. We left Naples in the late afternoon, and next morning we were docked in Messina. While we were docked in Messina we were allowed to come ashore and walk around if we wanted to, of course as I was a young man I wanted to see as much as I could, so, I walked the streets of Messina, which seemed to me a nice clean Sicilian town. Then we went back to the ship as we were told and we left Italy for good; Goodbye Italy, who knows when I will see you again?

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The Suez Channel

A ship navigating The Suez Channel
A ship navigating The Suez Channel
Suez Channel and the Red Sea and Aden Yemen
Suez Channel and the Red Sea and Aden Yemen

The long journey begins

The real long journey outside Italy begins

Next evening we were in Port Said Egypt. Here again we were allowed to go ashore, and here for the first time we met with real foreigners who talked a different language, you see, until then I and perhaps a lot of the other passengers who were also migrating to Australia had never been outside Italy. In Port Said I saw for the first time that the people of this world are not all the same, in fact, I am going to describe to you the way as I have seen it at that time. We came down the ship and we were walking by instinct in small groups, or perhaps it was one of the ship crew that took a group to show us the way, and to see how things were done down there.

There were a few very young and poor people that wanted to shine your shoes for a small coin, there were others that would sell you anything, in fact they sold to a few of us a piece of well reaped wood for a piece of chocolate, there were a few shops open that you could buy a bargain if you knew how to bargain, because they would ask a very high price and who knew how to bargain could reduce that price to one third of the original price, or something like that.

On reflection today I would say that Egypt was a strange place, you see the people that we talked to, knew a bit of Italian and they would tell us that we were robbing them by calling us (mariul or mariooo) which in the dialect of southern Italy could be translated as robber or thief; but while they were telling us that we were bobbing them, they were indeed robbing us, right, left and centre. But today I understand what they were doing, they were just trying to live their life, they were so poor that what they were doing was the only way for them to survive, may God forgive them if they hurt us by robbing some of us bad.

Anyhow, then we went back to the ship and next day we were navigating in the Suez Chanel, the Suez Channel offer one of the most strange sights, because, while you are in a ship in this man made channel that mankind should be proud to have made, and while you are in this strip of water slowly navigating towards the Red See, on both sides is desert land, what a sight this is?

After navigating the Suez Channel we went through the Red Sea and next stop was the port of Aden Yemen. By now I and the others were aware that here too things would be different from the normal way, but anyhow there was not much to see or report. Because I did not venture too far away from the port, what I can remember of Aden is that there were a few shops near the port, but what I remember most is that the air seemed to have a strange smell like sulphur that day, so, even today I wonder why it was so, and also, does the air in Aden smell like that all the time? If that is so, then different lands have different smells. I wonder if somebody else has had the same experience as I have.

Then the time came when we left Aden to go straight to Australia, this time it would take about a fortnight navigating no stop the Indian Ocean, a fortnight in the middle of the sea with no land in sight, this was going to be another hard take for the people that had never been to sea like myself, but anyhow we had taken that decision to go to Australia, so, let us go and see what Australia would be like.

When we left Aden I had already set foot on three continents during my life, so, within my heart I was saying goodbye to them all, starting from my native town of Genzano di Lucania, Goodbye Genzano my native town, goodbye Italy my country of origin, goodbye Port Said Egypt Africa, with your poor people that try to rob all passenger that set foot on their land just to survive, and goodbye Aden Yemen Asia with you strange air smelling of sulphur. Next stop will be Australia that very far away land, which we all think it would be like the Promised Land.

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A large and modern cruise liner

This photo here above is a modern cruise ship, whereas the Sydney the ship that I came to Australia with was a more modest ship, but it did its job of transporting passengers to and from Australia and other world places.
This photo here above is a modern cruise ship, whereas the Sydney the ship that I came to Australia with was a more modest ship, but it did its job of transporting passengers to and from Australia and other world places.
Map of Australia, the new far away land with many future promises for new comers. We arrived in Australia at Fremantle WA.
Map of Australia, the new far away land with many future promises for new comers. We arrived in Australia at Fremantle WA.

Navigating the Indian Ocean

Navigating the Indian Ocean from Aden to Fremantle Australia took us a fortnight; I should say that it was all right considering the circumstances that most of us had never been at sea before. You see, in those days’ people travelled by ship or any other kind of transport only when it was necessary, and even though the ship was not a luxury cruiser like the cruisers of today it was good enough for us who were just passengers who wanted to move from Italy to Australia, as it was in my case. The ship had embarked over 2000 passengers and we all had a proper bed to sleep in, there was plenty of good wholesome food and meals that were served regularly, we all had a place to sit at the tables, which were attached to the floor, but if the ship moved too much we had to mind the dishes and the drinks. Anyhow at other times we would go around the ship with some of these acquaintances that we have met on the ship, or just sit in our own cabin. We had also an English class that we could attend, so that we could learn a few words of English and be able to say at least the most Basic English words, in the hope that we would be able to say something and make other people understand what we needed when we reached Australia. There was something else that we learned at these English classes and it was the convict song I believe and it went thus: Oh my darling, oh my darling, oh my darling Clementine, you are lost and gone forever, oh my darling Clementine. How appropriate it was in our cases.

Perhaps I am saying too much about my personal story and it is becoming boring; I know that there is a lot more to say about this crossing the Indian Ocean, but I will come back to it another time, because I want to close this article. See you in our next article, hello Australia here I come, or going to Australia.

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    • F-Menchise profile imageAUTHOR

      F-Menchise 

      3 years ago from Brisbane Australia

      Thanks for noting the difference, in those times things moved very slow, so, we were thinking a lot more what was happening around us, therefore being emotional was there as well, it was the sign of the times and many people ventured to emigrate not knowing what they would find when they reached their destination.

    • Rangoon House profile image

      AJ 

      3 years ago from Australia

      I am sure your journey to Australia must have been extremely emotional, but fascinating at the same time - what a magnificent voyage.

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