A Ticket to Paradise?

News | Created 31 May 2018

Italian prisoners of war carrying their their luggage wait to board a train bound for an Australian camp in 1943

A Greek girl sent across the world to marry a man she’d never met, an African journalist fleeing for his life, and a stateless baby born in India to Iranian parents are just some of the human stories that feature in A Ticket to Paradise? opening Friday 1 June at Museum of the Goldfields.

The touring exhibition from the National Archives of Australia examines the rich diversity of Australian immigrants and the government’s ambitious plans after World War Two to encourage mass migration.

“The program transformed the nation socially, economically and culturally,” National Archives curator Tracey Clarke said.

“It has resulted in a community where, today, one quarter of our population was born overseas, and nearly half of us have at least one parent born elsewhere. While most people are aware of this aspect of our cultural heritage, many don’t realise the wealth of immigration history held by the National Archives, from personal and family stories to government campaigns and policies. In A Ticket to Paradise? we’ve tried to show that the migrant experience is as diverse as the seven million people who have arrived here from more than 200 different countries,” Ms Clarke said.

Museum of the Goldfields Regional Manager Zoe Scott said the exhibition reveals the human aspect of migration, with recordings of new and archival personal stories.

“These stories give an insight into the rich, complex and very different experiences of the migrants and refugees who have settled in Australia,” Ms Scott said.

“The Goldfields of Western Australia has been a magnet for migrants since the discovery of gold in the 1890s. Single men and families from all over Europe came to the Goldfields for many reasons including to get rich, improve their lives, or escape persecution or tough times back home.”

The exhibition also examines promotional campaigns which presented a utopian view of Australia as a welcoming country full of opportunity.

“The government-run campaigns emphasised Australia’s climate, beaches, jobs and housing – a safe home after the atrocities of war,” said Ms Clarke.

“But they also aimed to allay fears that might arise on the home front.”

The Department of Immigration was established in 1945 to encourage and select prospective immigrants.

As well as film footage and audio recordings, the exhibition features many images of migrants taken by government photographers between the 1940s and 1990s to enhance and drive the campaigns.

The National Archives has partnered with the Department of Home Affairs to enable the exhibition to tour throughout Australia.

The National Archives and Museum of the Goldfields are encouraging other post-war immigrants and their families to contribute their personal memories on the iPads provided in the exhibition or online at www.destinationaustralia.gov.au.

A Ticket to Paradise? is on display at Museum of the Goldfields from 1 June 2018 to 12 August 2018.


Media contacts

For interviews with Zoe Scott and for photography and filming requests at the Museum of the Goldfields, please contact Sharna Craig (Western Australian Museum Media and Publicity Officer) via sharna.craig@museum.wa.gov.au

For phone interviews with the National Archives of Australia’s Michelle Hughes (Public Programs), please contact Sophia McDonald (National Archives Senior Communications Officer) via media@naa.gov.au