Migrant memories shared at the Hall


Helen Scott (nee Lidwinski) could not help but get emotional when opening the Greta Army and Migrant Camp Gallery Wall at the Branxton Community Hall on Monday morning.

This project had been her labour of love in recent years, sifting through thousands of images captured from the former site which was an Army Camp from 1939-49 and Migrant Camp from 1949-60.

The popular hall, which was built for the Greta Camp in 1940, was moved and reopened on Bowen Street in 1964. Though it had never featured a tribute to the Camp until this week.

“We have nowhere in Greta to go to remember the Camp this time so this is my contribution,” she explained.

“We want to make sure our children remember where we come from, I am a first generation Australian proud of my Polish heritage and I’m proud to do this.”

Many migrants from the post-war era such as Liz Matt and Edward Pawlica shared their stories while special guests Daniel Repacholi (Member for Hunter) and Clayton Barr (Member for Cessnock) also praised Helen for her efforts.

She would now like to add a Nissen Hut next to the hall so that visitors can see the living space allocated to migrants during the post-war period.

Cessnock City Council mayor Jay Suuval was more than happy to respond.

“My great grandmother lived out in Abernethey and half of her house was a Nissen Hut and I spent 12 months or so living out there on and off,” he reflected.

“If there are things that we can do to remind people about the history, because there are so many people who don’t know what a Nissen Hut is, then I am happy to support that.