John Pilbin

Ship name / Flight number: Fairsky

Arrival date: 16/09/1959

My story begins in the North East of England in the late 50’s.

I left school in 1955 and began work on a farm not far from my home town
of Darlington and love the freedom it brought me.

One Sunday while watching a new series on TV all about farming in
Australia it appealed to me that this could be where I wanted to go. My
father was not very eager for me to leave home but with help from my
stepmother I was allowed to find out more about the BBM.

When the paperwork arrived I was very eager to fill it all in and get on
my way which I eventually did on the 13th August, 1959 on the Fairstar from

For the 20 or so boys it was the beginning of an adventure of
a lifetime.

We had a very rough trip over the Bay of Biscay (plenty of green faces)
and a lot of empty spaces at mealtimes. But after that it was a great trip

I landed in Sydney on the 16th September, 1959 to be met by Mr
Haskell and we all went on the bus – first stop Burwood to drop off the boys
who were to work in the city, then off to the farm which was an eye
opener.  The group before us had made a big mess of it so we got the
place set up again.

I was not at the farm for very long – in fact only a few days, then I was off to
a place called Condobolin out west onto a farm for wheat and sheep.

The trip stared at Central Station at 8pm on a steam train travelling out west over the mountains which was very slow and cold at that time of the year. We arrived in Parkes at 6am the next day before transferring to a motor rail for the trip to Condobolin arriving at 9am, cold and hungry. I was met by the farmer and his wife – Mr and Mrs Joe Davies. Then into his car and onto the farm – only a mere 25 miles from the nearest town.

Things started well but then went downhill very quickly as they thought of me as their hired slave only being able to go to town once a month to do banking and other stuff.

I stuck this out for about six months and when he refused to give me a pay rise for my birthday I packed up and headed for Melbourne where my life really started to blossom firstly working in a wool pressing firm – getting wool from the wholesales and getting ready to export all over the world.

Worked there till 1961 then made a big decision to go and work for the Melbourne tramways and ended up driving trams for six years.

Then came the biggest twist of my life. I went on holidays in ‘67 to Cairns and on the way back I stopped in Sydney to see the family who had had the corner shop in the UK three doors down the street and met the eldest daughter. And that was that, as they say!

I went back to Melbourne and packed up. Then back to Sydney and was married 15 months later (we celebrated our 50th year anniversary last year).

I worked at a few jobs in Sydney before I got into car sales in 1970. That job lasted until 2015.

I worked at Ford dealerships, the highlight being in 2004 being taken to Darwin to be presented with a certificate for being among the top 44 sales people in Australia.

After that retired and moved to Cairns 14 years ago for the lifestyle and have not looked back.

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