Betty Lowis.
Betty Lowis. Contributed

OPINION: Why we owe a great debt to migrants

DURING these sizzling weather conditions, I thought about my paternal grandmother and other European women who came to Australia with their husbands as free settlers in the 1800s.

Leaving the beautiful greenery of Europe to live forever in the harsh Australia climate and battling flies, heat and dust.

When the ship docked in Maryborough, grandad and grandma were taken directly to a cattle property to work.

My aunt told me so much about those days as told to her by her mother.

I think of those women, some even pregnant, dressed in dark clothing (no pretty florals for them).

Photos of grandma and my great aunts showed full-length dresses, from chin to boots, and of course, the undergarments were on board too, and corsets as well.

All of which were worn in searing heat.

They had no mod-cons and scrubbing the dirt out of layers of petticoats and dress hems as well as the general laundry must have been terrible.

So different for grandma who had been a goose girl in her homeland.

I shall dispense with the silly jokes about "being a silly goose", "not saying boo to a goose" or doing the goose step.

For anyone who may not be familiar with the term, a goose girl was a shepherd who took gaggles of geese out to graze and then bring them home again in the evening.

Later, my grandad was fortunate enough to get a job as fettler with the railway, and the family operated gates at a gatehouse at a place called Koringa.

One day, while "running the road" (a task that had to be performed every day to make sure there was no damage to the railway line that could cause a derailment) a nut came loose on my grandad's trike while going over a high railway bridge and he fell to his death.

Grandma and the family later moved to Tiaro.

We owe a lot to the migrants who came from all over the world to build Australia.

None moreso than the Germans and Italians, who poured their hearts and souls into their new homeland.

Betty Lowis is a Bundaberg artist and writer.

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