Donald Low

Ship name / Flight number: Otranto

Arrival date: 13/06/1953

I arrived in Australia on the 13th of June, 1953, aboard the Otranto. Shortly after arriving, I secured a job in Mittagong with a dairy farmer named Marv Carruther. I stayed there for about three years before moving on to work for a young family who became my Australian family. This family had four girls younger than me, and I became their adopted brother. From there, I got married in 1963 to a local Bowral girl, and we had two children, a girl and a boy. After remarrying, my wife and I have been together for many years and have two sons. My daughter has three children, two girls and a boy. I enjoy being a grandfather.

I have had a varied work life, transitioning from a dairy farmer to becoming a builder with a Gold License. Later, I worked with vulnerable children who were wards of the state. I can identify with kids who feel rejected by their parents. Although I wasn’t abandoned by my parents, looking back, I felt I was.

I was 20,000 kilometres away from home and didn’t get much support. I was never allocated a Big Brother and, by today’s standards, wasn’t well treated. As an officer of the state, I would have intervened if I saw a young person treated like I was. I never got a day off and was only allowed to go to town for a haircut. I had just one two-week holiday in three years due to an accident on the farm where I was run over by a tractor and spent two weeks in Bowral Hospital. I never had any visitors, and when I was picked up, I was told that was my first holiday for the year.

After a few years, my father passed away, and I lost contact with my family back in Scotland. My sister moved to America and married, and we have kept in contact. I have never left Australia as the demands of raising a family never allowed us enough money to travel overseas. However, I have spent a lot of time traveling around Australia. I am proudly Australian and became a citizen many years ago. I have done quite well and lived in Bowral. Later, I moved just 5 kilometres from Mittagong, where we own a lovely house. My wife has been a high school teacher.

I didn’t have much contact with the Big Brother Movement and spoke to Frank Mansell, the secretary, a long time ago. I mentioned the cruelty I suffered in those days. I could have asked to be moved, but I was rather frightened and timid back then. I regard those days as character-building. I can relate to Albert Facey, who wrote that wonderful book, “A Fortunate Life.”

I had a heart attack in December 1990 and underwent a triple bypass operation at Westmead on the 23rd of April, 1991. I was back at work three months later. I consider myself very fortunate to live in a great town, have a wonderful wife, four great children, nine lovely grandchildren and eight great grandchildren (*this update has been made in 2024). One of our sons died a long time ago, but we have so much to be thankful for.

In 1993, a friend mentioned reading in the Reader’s Digest about an ad for Johnnie Walker Black Label Scotch Whiskey and a man named Ian Cameron Low who made the blend. I had a brother by that name and wondered if it might be him. I wrote to the company, got his contact details, and sent him a letter. He replied from America, confirming that he was indeed my brother. We hadn’t seen each other in 41 years. He visited Sydney in May, and on the 20th of May, we met for the first time in all those years. We were interviewed by a newspaper, radio, and even appeared on midday TV.

Through this, I reconnected with my other two brothers, who still live in Britain and have been writing to us. Hopefully, we will all meet again one day. My brother Ian will be visiting Australia twice next year.

I have many stories, but in essence, that is my life in Australia. It would be fun to meet up with a few mates from Glasgow with whom I arrived.

Written by Donald Low, October 1994

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