Migrant Hostels in the City of Charles Sturt

Pennington Reserve 1The City of Charles Sturt area was home to three migrant hostels for the greater part of the 20th century:

  • Finsbury/Pennington: 1949 to late 1980s, located on Grand Junction Road.
  • Hendon: late 1940s to early 1950s, located on Tapleys Hill Road (now Acacia Court site)
  • Woodville Migrant Reception Centre: c1966 to c1978, located on Woodville Road (opposite QEH)

Charles Sturt has initiated a number of projects designed to capture the history of the hostels and recognise the significant role they played in building our community.

In 2008 we started to collect the memories of those who had been accommodated in the Finsbury/Pennington Migrant hostel. The hostel is significant as South Australia’s longest running migrant hostel. You can add your memories to this project by completing and returning the following questionnaire:

Remembering the Finsbury Pennington Migrant Hostel - questionnaire

Pennington Reserve 2The stories collected through this project so far have contributed to a major upgrade of a reserve located on the former site of the hostel in Pennington.

Pennington Gardens Reserve, on Arthur Street, Pennington, brings together earlier works by artists Hossein and Angela Valamanesh with new signage and decorative features to communicate the history of the site. The reserve details information on the hostel and shares memories of former residents. A Nissen Hut inspired shelter with barbecue facilities provides a place for migrants and families to celebrate their arrival in Australia.

Pennington Reserve 3

Engraved pavers detailing the name, country of origin and length of stay of hostel residents and staff form an important part of the reserve and provide an opportunity for past residents, staff or their family members to honour their connection to the hostel. Hostel residents commemorated in the path include Australia’s first female Prime Minister, the Honourable Julia Gillard.

Further Research

The migrant hostels located in Charles Sturt were State and Commonwealth Government run. Therefore, the City of Charles Sturt does not hold any records relating to the management of the hostels or residents lists. If you are undertaking research on your own or family member’s time in a migrant hostel, you will need to visit the State Records of South Australia for State Government run hostels. Records for Commonwealth hostels are held by the National Archives of Australia: http://guides.naa.gov.au/records-about-south-australia/chapter10/10.10.aspx