From conflict-torn Indonesia, Wacol migrant greets Queen Mother

Luberta Goote migrated to Australia in 1957

In the recently digitised collection of Migrant Women Oral History  at State Library is the story of Luberta Goote who migrated from Indonesia, fleeing civil unrest to find safe haven at the Wacol Migrant Camp in Queensland in 1957. She went from fear to happiness that included getting used to celebratory fireworks and even meeting the Queen Mother.

Dutch national Luberta, her husband and three children were living and working in Indonesia on a Dutch owned tea plantation. Civil unrest was occurring after Indonesia’s independence from the Dutch had been declared following WWII.  Luberta' s husband applied to the Australian government, an immigration application process that took more than a year to be approved.

..."That went sort of a little bit over my head because I was on the plantation...it was all arranged while my husband was in town you know...we were not allowed to go as much down because terrorists directly were around already...then they were not against us so much...but it was terrorists against the police and we were stuck in the middle more or less you know...so we were only allowed once in every 2 months down to town and then he would go down to arrange things, Everybody had to go .

The tea company paid for their passage and they arrived at the Wacol Migrant Camp. They picked Queensland because Luberta’s husband found the climate agreeable and similar to Indonesia’s. They were at Wacol from August 1957 through June 1958.

During St. Nicholas Festival at Christmas time there were fireworks during the event. Her children were frightened of the fireworks, because of the shooting in Indonesia. They were always told to go into the hall when the shooting started. They were really frightened the first few times, according to Luberta's oral interview conducted by Dr. Donna Kleiss.

Luberta spoke Dutch, German and some English,  She worked at Wacol, often translating for other immigrants. At first she was appointed the representative for the women, and then the Director of the Camp asked her to organise the Camp for the Queen Mother's visit to the Centre in February 1958. The Director told her he would like to have several countries represented in national costumes for the visit. "I got all the people together and they were quite interested to do it you know, so we came up with three Dutch, because that was the most we had and then the Hungarian and the German ones...and we had five kiddies...that was quite nice".

Children celebrate The Queen Mother's visit to Queensland, 1958

The Queen Mother in Brisbane, 1958

After years of isolation in Indonesia, Luberta was very happy at Wacol where there were many Dutch immigrants to talk to.  She regretted leaving when she and her husband moved to a farm. Listen to Luberta’s oral history interviews here.

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The children shown are from Hendra State School as I recognise some of my Grade 2 1958 classmates in the front row..