Saturday, 2 February 2008

Ten Pound Poms

I have just finished watching a BBC programme about the Ten Pound Poms - those British men and women that took the opportunity in the 50's and 60's to emigrate to Australia for £10 - a very good deal when compared to the usual fee of something closer to £300 which would have been six months wages for the average person I think.

The catch? They had to stay at least two years or repay the full fare if they wanted to come back to Great Britain.

When I consider that in a less than a months time, I shall be flying to Australia for a three week holiday, it is incredible to think that many of those people travelled all that way by boat - taking a month to get there! Not to mention that some of those emigrants probably thought that they'd never again see those friends and family that they'd left behind.

The BBC interviewed about ten people I think, all with wildly varying experiences and attitudes, there was one woman who was just so determined to hate the place that she didn't seem to have a good word to say about the whole thing (it was quite easy to see why some Australians called the migrants Whinging Poms!).

Others were more pragmatic and integrated themselves far more fully into the local community and so appeared to have a better time of it. There was even one couple that came back to Britain and within a year decided that they'd made a mistake and so went back to Australia!!

I was just thinking...what courage it must have taken to do this, or what despair? Did people want to escape their life as it was or simply try something new and adventurous? I just cannot imagine how they must have felt, today it is so much easier - my cousin, Sarah, now lives out in Australia with her fiancé and yet it is not the same thing - she can fly back to the UK every now and then or her parents can fly out to Australia. Of course, I don't mean to belittle her decision to stay in Australia as it will have been a difficult decision for her; it just doesn't (to my mind) have the same meaning as it would have done in 1950.

In any case, it was an interesting programme and really made it clear just how easy it is travel these days - a three week holiday to Australia in the 1950's was just impossible, in fact, holidays to Spain and Greece were only just becoming available to the average family!

1 comment:

Me said...

My partner thinks his parents were 10 pound Poms. They came out here in the 60's. :) D's Dad though after all this time still can not handle the heat. Although D says he'd probably sweat in Antartica :)