Celso Cattapan was born in 1926 in San Martino di Lupari, province of Padova, region of Veneto, Italy. He migrated to Australia arriving in Melbourne on April 26, 1952 on board the ship Australia.
When Celso arrived, Australia was going through an economic depression, so he was forced to accept any job offered. After a week as a labourer for a building company, he was retrenched. He moved to Heathcote, in country Victoria, to cut wood in the forest, making studs for the building industry. He worked in the forest of Heathcote for over two years, living in makeshift accommodation and, for a number of months, in a warehouse storing coffins.
Despite the conditions he earned a substantial amount of money, which he sent back home to purchase a partnership in a transport company. In Italy Celso had driven trucks since the age of 17, and he has intended to return to Italy to continue to work in this trade and marry his fiancée Bertilla Cecchin, born in 1933 in Castello di Godego, province of Treviso, region of Veneto, Italy. Unfortunately the transport partnership did not eventuate and his family kept the money. Disillusioned with Italy and his family, Celso decided to remain in Australia.
He sponsored Bertilla and paid for her trip. She arrived on January 29 1955 on the ship Australia, and spent her first night at the house of paesani in Carlton. The next day she married Celso, in a wedding dress she had brought with her from Italy. The marriage was celebrated by Fr Little (later Archbishop Little) at St George's Church (Sacred Heart) in Rathdowne Street, Carlton.
The couple boarded in a building owned by Ricchetto Mantesso in Lee Street, North Carlton, occupying the upper floor, above the Mantesso fruit shop. Their first son was born on 22 January 1956. In June 1956 they bought a house at 64 Paterson Street, North Carlton, where their second son was born. They lived in this house for 10 years, before moving to Airport West.
Bertilla was a skilled knitter, having learned the trade in Italy at a young age. In her town most families owned a commercial knitting machine and were contracted by knitting mills in the area. She was able to find work in Melbourne, with a number of Jewish clothing manufacturers.
After his marriage, Celso found work in Melbourne with two paesani, Aldo Soretta and Marco Dal Bosco, who had set up their own company as contractors for sewerage work. In 1957 Celso was buried in a trench and suffered major injuries to his back, and he was out of work for nearly three years. He returned to work in 1960 as a labourer with a construction company owned by the Bergamin brothers. He then drove trucks for a paesano, Mr Cervi, for ten years and finally with Pronto Concrete (owned by Davide Barro) for a further eight years, until his retirement.