A select group of 175 “Ten Pound Poms” and friends remembered their life-changing voyage to Australia at a special event onboard P&O Cruises’ Oriana in Sydney today.
The nostalgic reunion was held as part of celebrations to mark 175 years of heritage for the UK-based cruise line, which played a key part in the post-World War II assisted migration program.
Under the program, which ran from 1947 to 1972, more than a million Britons paid ten pounds to cruise to Australia to start a new life, earning the tag of Ten Pound Poms.
Now famous Australians who arrived here under the program include Prime Minister Julia Gillard, actor Hugh Jackman and singers Kylie Minogue, Jimmy Barnes and the Gibb brothers, better known as The Bee Gees.
The lunch followed an invitation from P&O Cruises World Cruising to Australia’s Ten Pound Poms, asking them to tell their favourite stories about their journey to their new land.
The cruise line was flooded with more than 1500 entries, revealing stories of romance and adventure at sea and complete surprise at the Australian way of life on arrival.
The winners and guests, 175 in all, were invited to attend today’s celebratory event onboard the cruise line’s modern day Oriana, the namesake of one of the ships which carried Ten Pound Poms to Australia in the 1960s.
Among the many winning stories were couples who met and fell in love onboard their journey to Australia, those who migrated to escape ill health caused by the British climate and even one passenger who kept the key to his cabin after his voyage to Australia – and today gave it back.
P&O Cruises Managing Director, Carol Marlow, who attended the event on a dedicated visit from the United Kingdom, said it was fitting that the cruise line was celebrating its 175th year of heritage in Australia with this special event onboard Oriana.
“After World War II, more than one million Britons sailed to Australia as part of the largest planned mass migration in history and most of these came on P&O ships,” Ms Marlow said.
“Those Australians still have wonderful stories to tell of their voyage here and their memories of settling in Australia and it was fabulous to celebrate some of those today,” she said.
P&O Cruises has posted a selection of the stories on www.pocruises.com.au/tenpoundpoms