Michael Piggott

Ship name / Flight number: Mooltan

Arrival date: 26/11/1951

Immigration to Australia

I grew up in the South of Wales in the UK. My family were very poor mining folks and we had to live with
my grandmother in a very small home. My family included my mother, father and one brother.  We all shared a one bedroom
flat at Roth Park in Cardiff.

During the war we lived with my other grandfather in Newport where I went to school. On the way to school, I passed a lot of homes that had been bombed overnights by the Germans.
During the summer holidays during the war, I was sent to my cousin’s farm in Cotswolds for
safety. This is where I became interested in farming. In my desire for a better life, I thought I would like to immigrate to Canada. Instead, I came across a pamphlet
about The Big Brother Movement offering chances for young people to work on farms in Australia.
When I was 16 I took the chance to apply and see what happens. Shortly after I was contacted by them. Next, I had to
pass a medical exam to be accepted. I passed and got accepted to go to Australia on the 15/10/1951, a day I have not forgotten.
When the time for my departure came, we had to travel to London with my mother and father as they wanted us a couple of days earlier to meet up with the other 39 boys and leaders.

We have been invited to Mansion House with the Mayor and Mayoress of London (Sir Denys and Lady
Lawson ). They gave us a reception with a photo shoot for our adventure. I was one of to be
chosen for the photo. Headline in the papers was “Adventure is his cup of tea”.

On the 17/10 /1952 we travelled by train from St Pancreas station to Tilbury docks to join the
MSS Mooltan for a 6-week journey through the Suez Canal to Freemantle WA. At the time there was conflict around the Suez Canal so we could not go ashore.
I turned 17 on the boat. We had a very smooth trip, with lots of enjoyable times. We had great food, and all got on well.

A highlight was the equator crossing. We dressed up as king Neptune, had lots of laughs and fun.
Upon arriving in at Fremantle we were all excited to hit land and were taken into Perth for the

We were then back on the ship to go to Adelaide where it was expected to be a rough crossing through but thankfully it was like a duck pond. The arrival in Adelaide was organised and I went to have a day with church fellowship group. We went up to the Adelaide Hill for a picnic which was great. Our impression of Adelaide and Perth were that it was so beautiful, and the weather was so great
and different. We had such a good journey over to Australia, smooth sailing and everyone was happy with our adventure.

From Adelaide we went back on the Mooltan to Melbourn and from there back on the ship to Sydney which was our final destination. We arrived in Sydney on the 26/11/51. From there we all went to the training farm at Liverpool for 6 weeks. Here we learned how to milk cows and work on a farm.

After that I was lucky to get a job at Leeton in NSW on a dairy farm. The job was 6 days a week I got
3 pounds 10 shilling plus free board. I stayed with a lovely family who looked after me well and I
fitted in. Although it was very hard work, I was happy with my work. I started at 6am with just one rest break at midday.

My worst experience I remember was that I was hand feeding a calf, but the milk went down the wrong way to
its lungs and the calf dropped dead on the spot. I was terrified and was worried that I would be in trouble as I thought I
killed it.

I bought a secondhand push bike so I could ride into town about 3 miles away. I went to the open air
movies, had lunch sausages, chips and peas. It was my big day out. I still like sausages, chips and peas at 87 years old.

I never learned to swim in the UK and then one day at the lake at Narrandra I got out of my
depth. After going down a couple of times I thought I would better try swimming and got to the wall.
Needless to say I learnt to swim quickly.

Another of my memories is that an old chap used to come to the farm to test the cow’s milk once a month. I was interested in
the job and thought it would be great to do. I enquired with him and was told that they were
looking for heard testers in Victoria. I applied and managed to get a job in Stanhope Vic as a heard tester. It
entailed visiting and boarding a different farm each day for 3 weeks per month and I had one
week off per month. My training was done on the job by an agriculture man who passed my
certificate.  I did this job for 9 years in different areas for 3yrs at a time.

From there I went share farming. Where I received 1/3 of the milk cheque, a house provided and was livening at Rochester Vic.
I got married in 1961, had 2 children. Our next move was Lockington Vic to another share farming. This time ii was 1/2 share, the house and 85 cows (the Blue Crane) and Batchelor
Mr Mc Tier.

With a good reference from Mr Mc Tier I was later selected from the settlement commission (previous
return soldiers) to receive a block of 111 acres at Invergordon and had to pay it off with the
Rural finance commission. There is a plaque of all the names of the original settlers at Invergordon, which we only recently
went to see. My name is also on it. We were paid by the commission to start with as we could only milk 15 cows. We were supplied
with a house, hayshed, machinery shed, a dairy, pastures laid out to irrigation.
I had to install milking machine, cow bales, make concrete yards, lanes, internal fencing etc.
Eventually we milked 90 cows, but the financial returns weren’t that good.
As England went into the common market with Europe many farmers worked in the SPC fruit
cannery to help service.

1980 I bought land at Ocean shores NSW and later again sold the farm and built a home in
Shepperton. 3 years later I again sold the house and moved to the Sunshine Coast in Queensland. This was in April 1982.
After this I have built and sold a few different homes and eventually choose to reside in Buderim Meadows 1992-2020.
My second wife of 25 years and I have now downsized and moved into an over 50’s Resort in September 2021. We have travelled quite a lot over the years and still looking forward
to experience some more trips.

Between us we have 7 children, 10 grandchildren and 2 Great grandchildren and my brother. We are both still very active, enjoy life and do lots of walking and cycling.

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