Photographic Journal complied by Benjamin James Watling, who immigrated to Australia from England in 1951 with his wife, Amy Ethel Amelia, and his daughters, Benita June and Jennifer Anne. When they migrated Benjamin and Amy were 47 and 51 respectively and the girls were 10 and 13.

The family decided to migrate as they were searching for more opportunities and a better life in a new country. Before deciding to migrate Benjamin was working in an accountant's office in Tilbury, while the family lived in Grays in Essex. Their first choice was New Zealand, but according to the family they weren't taking migrants at this time (however, this contradicts figures showing that NZ actually accepted 2,873 assisted migrants from the UK in 1951); their second choice was South Africa but, according to the family, the Mau Mau unrest at the time affected immigration opportunities from the UK, so they came to Australia.

The Watlings came to Australia as 'ten pound tourists' and arrived with a nest egg to establish themselves in Australia. They boarded the British Ministry of Transport's S.S. 'New Australia' at Southampton, for a six week journey. A hospital ship, they were accommodated on D deck and food was rationed. The family recounts their amazement on reaching Australia of the abundance of food available. Due to the brewing Suez crisis, the ship was escorted through the canal by two British naval ships.

The family came via Fremantle and Melbourne and got off at Sydney. Benjamin established a goods transport business which transported goods between Sydney and Melbourne. The family settled in Mullambimbi and purchased banana plantations in northern New South Wales. Benjamin and Amy eventually settled in Brisbane while Benita came to Melbourne. The family express their contentment at having ended up in Australia.

Physical Description

Standard lined exercise book with red cover. It contains 47 pages with photos and annotations, and there are 9 blank pages at end of book. Each page has 3 photos, attached by photo corners, and each with a hand written caption, clearly stating location and then a short comment. The photographs are 6.5 x 6.5cm and good to fair quality - amateur snapshots. The first page has single larger image of the ship 'SS New Australia'.


Journals such as these offer an invaluable insight into the migrant experience. They represent an important memory tool for the people who create them and a sense of the historical importance of their undertaking. They record the freshness of the personal voice at the time of the experience, rather than the retrospective recollections after many years past. It is an experience that innumerable people will be able to relate to, in terms of the ports, shipboard life, and first views of Fremantle, Melbourne and Sydney.

While the family did not settle in Victoria, the object nevertheless provides an insight in the journey experience which is broadly representative of innumerable migrants who settled all over Australia. The book also contains useful first impressions of Melbourne.

The journal provides an ideal display format for images of a migrant journey.

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