Five Island Road, Unanderra, Wollongong, NSW. Balgownie (Fairymeadow) Hostel. Berkeley Hostel
1963 to 1968 were particularly busy in Wollongong and around 20,000 migrants were taken in during this period. There were problems in the hostels during this time; serious health concerns and people complained of bad living conditions, communal dining, bathing and laundering was not popular as there was a lack of privacy and complaints were also made about the food. In fact many migrants began to depart due to such problems and the Government had to improve the facilities if they intended to continue to attract and hold immigrants.
The NSW Housing Commission had begun a scheme in 1954 to provide 2000 new homes in the Berkeley area and most of these were completed by 1966.
By 1971 the Berkeley Hostel had been closed for several years, whilst Unanderra Hostel was leased to a big construction firm which used it to house its staff. In 1978 the former site of the Berkeley hostel was bought by the Housing Commission as there was room for 800
houses to be built on the site.
Most of the buildings and fittings were sold off by this time and in the early 1980’s there were only concrete paths and an occasional step or two remaining as evidence of what had been there. This was the end of the hostel era.
In the mid 1980’s more houses were built by private developers and the Housing Commission and they have provided many families of migrants with homes with good views over Lake Illawarra.
Unanderra Hostel came into being due to the Australian Government’s programme begun after the second world war, to increase the population and relieve refugee distress. The Wollongong area was chosen due to its production of coal, iron and steel, as migrants were directed to the area for jobs. Initially, the local council was unable to cope with such growth and the Government undertook to supply temporary hostel accommodation for newly
Many thanks to all the staff of Wollongong City Library for information supplied on the history of the Wollongong area and the hostels.
For an official version
please visit the
National Archives of Australia