Bob Davis

Ship name / Flight number: New Australia

Arrival date: 24/06/1956

Shared by Bob’s Granddaughter Kellie Omura-Davis


First photo in Australia.


My name is Bob Davis, I was born in Rotherham Yorkshire.

I never knew my father as he was killed in WWII when I was just nine months old.

When my mother remarried, I wasn’t treated very well by the man she married. Hence the reason I decided to escape and come to Australia at the age of 16. Those travelling to Australia had to stay for two years or pay the full return fare. Mum had two children to my stepfather who also had problems with him.

After getting in touch with the Big Brother Movement in London I had an interview and medical tests, then they gave me the opportunity to make a new life in Australia.


So on the 22nd of May 1956 I sailed from Southampton on the ship named SS New Australia (which was a 21000 ton cruise ship converted to a migrant ship) filled with people from Ireland, Scotland and England who all had dreams of making a new life in Australia. The total number of passengers migrating to Australia was around 1600. After a five-week voyage, I had made many new friends on the cruise and some of those people stayed with me for quite a few years even after arriving in Australia.

My first encounter with the Australian bush was on the Big Brother training farm at Bossley Park and I could not get over how the warm sun made everything so bright, in contrast to cloudy England.

Little did I know but this girl used to sit on a hill next door to a dairy farm and watch all these little pommy lads, learning to milk cows and ride horses etc. Strange fate, I met this girl, Gwen again in Melbourne later who became my wife.

I spent six weeks at Bossley Park on the training farm and then started my first job in Australia on a chook farm as there wasn’t much happening in the sheep and wheat area at the time. This chook farm was in Henty and I worked there from the 10 th August to the 23 rd November, for Mr and Mrs Neuhaus. I realised after a while that it wasn’t for me and that I wanted to work with wheat, cattle and sheep instead. So I contacted the BBM who were always obliging and ready to give advice on my choices of work as a parent would do.

So I left the employ of Mr Neuhaus on the 23 rd of November 1956 and travelled by train to the Sydney BBM office. There wasn’t much happening so I decided to go into the city and have a look around. While in the city, I called into the Plaza Tobacconist to buy some cigarettes where I met this lovely older couple, the Bookers who owned the shop and offered me accommodation along with some part time work. They took a liking to me and I stayed in their lovely apartment on the Harbour in Neutral Bay. I called the BBM that same afternoon and they gave me the good news of this job in Narromine that was exactly what I was looking for and everything clicked.


The Bookers.

I arrived in Narromine on the 1 st December by train and was met by Mrs Oates who drove me out to Warrawoona, which was the name of the property about 20ks from town. It was very dry, dusty and flat. We went out to meet the boss in the middle of the wheat paddock, who wasn’t very happy because he had a flat tire and was waiting for someone to come from town. As soon as I spoke to him and he heard my Yorkshire accent everyone burst out laughing.

I was helping other men with the harvesting and this was my introduction to real life in the bush. Ted and Betty Oates were very good people who taught me a lot about farming, driving trucks and tractors. I had a small one room cottage with Kerosene lighting and water heater for the shower. While unpacking my case, I found a reference and a five-pound note from Mr and Mrs Booker who were very pleased to have met me and asked me to stay in touch.

I spent two and a half years working for Ted in Narromine and helping out with the sheep shearing, ploughing the paddocks, getting ready for harvest and all the general work that came along. Ted said I was the best worker he ever had and we stayed in touch for a few years even after I moved to Melbourne.

During my time in Narromine, I did a lot of digging with a crowbar into the hard ground because of the drought and I bought myself a motorbike to get around and visit some of my friends in the area. I was best man at one of my good friend’s wedding but with no girls up there, I was getting a little lonely and I also had to think of bringing my mother out here with my stepbrother and stepsister.

So I decided to leave Ted which was hard to do and got the train to Melbourne where I got a job on the trams as a trainee tram driver but all I did was collect fares and tickets.

In the place where I was staying I noticed that this girl who used to sit on the hill and watch all the brothers at the Bossley training farm was in the room directly opposite. She was very attractive and well dressed, I used to look for her every morning on the tram.

Then I got notification of my national service training and after terminating that full time, I had a part time commitment to the defence department.

Bob and Gwen.

After all that was over and getting to know this girl, Gwen better we decided to move to Sydney in 1960, much against the wishes of our friends in Melbourne. We had had some great times down there and we used to be able to board the ships every time they came into port Melbourne and had tours on various ships that came from all over the world. We travelled to Sydney via Cann River, Lakes Entrance, Bombala and down to Sydney.

After arriving in Sydney, I got a job on the buses at Randwick as a conductor but working on the double decker buses, sawing back and forth, I got motion sickness. So I left and joined Central District Ambulance who were advertising at the time and luckily enough I was accepted because of my training in National Service. I loved this work but saw many dreadful things.

Gwen and I were married on October 5 th 1963. After that in Sydney, I found a sales rep job with a health food company, where I worked for ten years and was the best job I ever had. I progressed to a director of a subsidiary company in Brisbane, where I found and opened our new warehouse after five years working from home.

Bob and Gwen at a work convention.

In 1975 Gwen, our two sons and I moved back to Sydney to commence a new life down there with our family, who were very happy about it because they would see a lot more of us and the children.

A write up in the local paper on Bob’s visit to his hometown.

So then I decided to purchase a hire car and work for myself in 1987, I did this until retiring in 2004. This was most interesting work as I drove many well-known famous people including stars of stage and screen. I found them very interesting and easy to talk to.

I never thought after arriving in Australia in 1956 and being taught farming on the Big Brother Movement training farm at Bossley Park that I would be so fortunate in my life with the people I encountered, particularly the Big Brother Movement.

Finally, I believe we are so often caught up in our destination that we forget to appreciate our journey and especially the goodness of the people we meet on the way.

Appreciation is a wonderful feeling don’t overlook it, and remember that in the river of life, every pebble finds its own level. Thanks BBM.

Bob and Gwen in 2020.


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