Colin Statham

Ship name / Flight number: Ormonde

Arrival date: 19/07/1951

My brother Malcolm aged 17 and I aged 15 and 11 months left Rhyl North Wales on 10th of June 1951 after learning only 2 week previously that we were going to Australia as there had been 2 cancellations on the pictured, Steam Ship ‘Ormonde’ of 15,000 tons.

Left: Ormonde (

At Tilbury, our parents waved goodbye, us little knowing we would not see them again for 16 years.  I kept and still have a day to day diary of the boat trip of 5 weeks and 3 days before arriving at Piermont 13 in Sydney on 19th July 1951, where we had our photographs taken by a major newspaper as we were the first two Little Brothers to arrive by this scheme.

We went later to the training farm at Cowpasture Rd Liverpool and stayed a month until we were found jobs on farms where we could be on close farms. We left the training farm and went by train to Cootamundra, which is about half way from Sydney to Melbourne.  My brother went to a farm at Muttama 15 kilometres South, I left to Jindalee, about 8 kilometres East  of Cootamundra, 25 kilometres in another direction from my brother who I wasn’t to see for another 6 months.

Having had only 4 years of education at 9 different schools in the UK from aged 11 to I5,  I was only able to get laboring work in Australia and had 17 different laboring jobs in the first 2 years on sheep, wheat, a dairy farm, painters offsider, truckies offsider, fencing, bricklayers laborer, a job at Garden island Naval base, I even asked to join the navy, but my parents disapproved, a rouseabout in shearing sheds

A stroke of luck in June 1953 when talking to a fellow laborer said there was a job vacancy and “hang on, here’s the phone number”. I rang and “yes we need a steam engines cleaner,  I’ll be there in 10 minutes! ” I got the job!

Later as they had seen that I’d come to work sober, got along well with the men,  I was worthy of going further, was asked if I would like to become a permanent employee and start as a fireman on the engines. I was thrilled.

I put my heart and soul into this amazing offer, a permanent job. After a lot of learning about engines, signals, them being examined,  I, the quiet, shy bloke from the bush became a fireman. Later I worked as a steam and diesel electric locomotive engine driver for the NSW Government Railways at aged 22 years of age until I retired at 49 with 32 years’ service. I now have been retired for 33 years. There were a lot of dramas on the job, worst one when I was badly burned by hot oil and steam on my face and neck, lucky it healed well.

I have since travel a lot, currently with my nearly 20-year-old sedan, trailer with all camping, maintenance and painting gear.  Having been around Australia 3 times, through the Simpson and Tanami deserts and all the extremities, North to Cape York, South to Wilsons promontory, plus Tasmania, East to Byron Bay and West to Steep point.

I write stories of my life,  humour, dramas and travel, having been paid for 15 published in National magazines. I follow the weather as I can’t handle the cold or the extreme heat, so it’s  5 months winter up North and 5 around the Snowy Mountains, Victoria,  South Australia. In addition I do some volunteer work on farms as they are having a hard time and 2 months on my own 36-foot pictured yacht.

I have over 200 stories written but feel that I need a secretary to help put them in book form.

I lost my accent in the shearing sheds as they used to ask me where I went on one particular Sunday. I had been to a football match at the weekend and on the Monday one of them wanted to know where. They already knew, but wanted me to say where,     “Murrumburrah”,  I replied.    He smiled and nodded gracefully, the second shearer said “where”? I said it again and he laughed,  then the third, same laughter, the fourth asked, I said it, more laughter.  The last shearer had his cupped hand to his ear mouthing the word as the machinery had started up, where?   So in the best of British I let out the words as loud as I could,


Well!  All five shearers were writhing on the floor of the stand laughing fit to burst, nearly wetting themselves.

So that September day in 1951 I made up my mind to become ‘ one er ‘youse blokes’ and lose my accent, I’m pleased that I did.

I’ll close now as I am on my own 36 foot pictured yacht, once a 1951 Little Brother who landed in Australia with only  $4-00 in his pocket.


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