Herbert and Eleanor Portanier and their three year old daughter Sarah migrated from Malta to Melbourne on 27 March 1979. They had visited Australia in 1977 to see Eleanor's family who were already in Brighton, Melbourne and enjoyed it so much they decided to return permanently. Herbert had no family in Australia.They flew on a QANTAS flight from Luqa airport in Malta, stopping in Rome where they changed planes and then flew on to Melbourne with one more transit stop. They arrived on 29 March during the day at Tullamarine airport.
Herbert was 27 years old when he arrived, having worked as an international freight operator at Malta's airport; Eleanor had also worked there as a ground hostess. They brought suitcases with them and a container followed later by ship. The Portaniers were assisted migrants, and had their flights and baggage costs subsidised. Herbert already had a job organised in the P&O international airfreight division of Pandair, while Eleanor worked for a short time at TAA. He returned to Malta on business trips from time to time.
The couple settled in Bentleigh after six-eight months and have continued to live in the same house in which they first settled. Their son James was born in 1981 and they later became Australian citizens. In 1990 Herbert founded his own company, Professional Freight Services which he sold in 2010. In 2002 he established the Maltese Australian Business & Professional Association of Victoria and was president until he retired in 2007.