Large numbers of migrant hostels were set up to house the sudden vast
influx of displaced persons and assisted migrants who entered Australia
after WW2. Two of the largest of these hostels were at Bonegilla and at
Bathurst, interestingly now internationally famous for the Mount
Panorama racing circuit. The accommodation was predominantly in Nissen
huts on disused air force and army bases, and in vacant government
buildings that had been hurriedly converted. Facilities were quite basic and therefore, to many, a cause of dissatisfaction. These makeshift
arrangements were later gradually replaced by purpose built housing but
not before many thousands of bewildered, uprooted people had experienced
their first taste of Australia in them.
It was probably a miracle of its ingenuity and pioneering spirit that the country managed to provide shelter for so many incomers. Though, of course, if you had just left your homeland and travelled halfway round the world it was doubtless hard to appreciate this miracle as you struggled to acclimatise to a new life and in many cases a language you didn't understand, from the undistinguished vantage point of a collection of hastily and rudimentarily equipped Nissen huts. Migrants and their dependants were allowed to stay in the hostels for up to a year and were given training and language lessons to help them settle into their new country and find employment and their own places to live. Dislike of the hostels provided many of the inmates with a good incentive to get out and get on.