'In the middle of sunny fields and on the banks of Australia's greatest river, the Murray, lies Bonegilla, the reception camp established by the Australian Government for European citizens. The new arrivals spend their first weeks in their new homeland here in order to become acquainted with its customs and mores and thereby ease their passage into the Australian way of life.' (Advertisement to encourage Displaced Persons to come to Australia).
Between 1947 and 1971 the Bonegilla Migrant Reception and Training Centre was the first home in Australia for up to 320,000 migrants from more than 30 nations. It was the first, the largest and the longest operating migration reception centre in Australia. It is of national significance as a place associated with and demonstrating a defining change in Australia's immigration policy following the war.
Most of the migrants and refugees who passed through Bonegilla were drawn from non-English speaking European countries. This shift from prioritising Anglo-Celtic sources would transform political and social expectations and ultimately the cultural diversity of Australia. Bonegilla received Australia's highest heritage honour on 7 December 2007 when it was included in the National Heritage List.
For over 25 years, AlburyCity has been collecting objects owned by former residents of the migrant reception centre; things that people brought from their homeland that gave them comfort, photographs, domestic appliances, children's toys, books and clothing. AlburyCity also actively collects written memories from those who passed through Bonegilla.
These memory pieces, photographs, documents, objects and other memorabilia, now housed in the Albury LibraryMuseum's Bonegilla Collection, provide evidence of and insights into post-World War II migration and refugee experiences. The collection illuminates immigration policies and procedures that changed the composition and size of the Australian population, and thus transformed the nation economically, socially and culturally.
There are currently 1,295 museum objects and photographs in the Bonegilla Collection.
Bonegilla Migrant Experience Heritage Park
To find out more about Bonegilla Migrant Experience Heritage Park, the location, operating hours and what's on offer, go to www.bonegilla.org.au
To view a poignant NSW Migration Heritage Centre online exhibition featuring memories, personal mementos and photographs of former migrants who arrived in Australia after World War II, go to migrationheritage.nsw.gov.au/belongings
To see the short film Bonegilla, produced by Screen Australia as part of ABC TV's ‘National Treasures’ series, go to
So Much Sky
Visit Bonegilla, a National Heritage listed place near Albury-Wodonga, in a NSW Migration Heritage Centre online exhibition. Reminisce or learn about the rich history of Bonegilla – the largest and longest operating migrant reception and training centre of the post-war era in Australia.
Get to know and take a tour of Australia's largest and longest operating migrant reception and training centre. Listen to an audio story by Allison Jess, ABC Radio Goulburn Murray. www.abc.net.au/goulburnmurray
National Archives of Australia – Immigration Records
Finally, to locate and identify any immigration records, including individual Bonegilla cards held by the National Archives, use the ‘Making Australia Home’ program at www.naa.gov.au