Roy Spence

Ship name / Flight number: New Australia

Arrival date: 28/08/1955

*Left: Roy, Caloundra Beach, 1956,

*Right: Laurie Poysden (middle), Roy on the right, 09/1955 when leaving the farm

My journey to Australia began when I was 16 years old and I read an article about the BBM in the Boys Own Magazine. After the interviews I left aboard the New Australia in July 1955, along with 30 other little brothers. My ambition was to own a farm. We had a good trip out to Sydney through the Suez Canal. What has stayed in my memory is the stop in Ceylon, Sri Lanka. They had hired a bus and took us out in the country where we saw bananas growing, monkeys and elephants, and how the village people lived.

Arriving in Sydney, we were taken to the farm at Liverpool where I stayed for four weeks. I went to see Mr Mansell, he told me I was going to Leeton to work on a rice farm. 3 boys left the same day and spent the day in Sydney. One was Laurie Poysden who I am still in touch with.

I left Central station on the overnight train to Leeton, a 12 hour journey. I was met at Leeton station and taken to the farm 10 miles from Leeton. I settled in at the farm. My first job was helping to sow the rice crop. The first rice harvest took 3 months to complete, 1956 was a record wet year. Shearing time was a new experience. I took my driving test in the farm Land Rover and bought my first car, an Austin A40. It took me to Queensland camping with some friends. On Saturday nights I drove into Leeton and went to the dance at the Cabaret Hall or the pictures at the Roxy Theatre. I joined the Leeton Soccer Club and played in the Wagga Wagga league. It was a good team, we won the Riverina Championship in 1958. In 1960 I had planned a 6 week trip home, but I was called home early as my brother had cancer.

While back in England I met my wife Pam who was a teacher at my old school. We decided to stay in England. We married in 1962, our first daughter Sally was born in 1964. I could not settle in England and we came back to Australia in 1967. A friend of mine had a farm at Coleambally. They were planning a six month trip to England with their four children, and asked me if I would manage the farm for them. We sailed for Australia in December 1967. We left in a snowstorm and arrived at Coleambally in 100 degree (F) heat. When they returned we moved back to the Leeton district to work on farms. Jenny was born in 1968 and Kay in 1973.

In 1978 we had a month’s trip to England so they could see their grandparents and cousins. On our return home to Australia I was offered a share farming position. In 1985 with the help of a good friend we bought a rice farm near Whitton. The interest rates were 22% but it was now or never. I worked the farm and share farmed a nearby farm for 10 years. Pam and the family were a big help, especially in the sheepyards, helping to draft sheep and lambs. Pam’s main job was taxi driver to the children taking them to and from the school bus, school events, birthday parties and playing sport. We have moved house 6 times since arriving in Australia and Pam’s first job was always to start a flower garden.

The children all did well. Sally trained as a physiotherapist and later returned to Leeton to open her own practice. Jenny trained as a preschool teacher, and Kay as a vet nurse.

In 1995 we had our last trip to England. Kay and her husband Russell took over the farm in 2007. We moved to a 1.5 acre property just out of Leeton. We planted lots of native bushes and trees, and established flower and vegetable gardens. In 2020 we downsized to a house on the outskirts of Leeton. Thanks to BBM we have enjoyed our life in Australia.

Roy and Pam Spence

Leeton, NSW

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