The Club also participated in local multicultural events. Due to growing importance and recognition of multiculturism as Australia approached its 1988 Bicentenary, the NSW Government funded a Carnivale and Multicultural Grand International Fair in 1986 with the expectation of many cultures as possible to represent at the Grand International Parade. The International Fair celebrations included Slovenian Clubs from Melbourne and Canberra as part of the National Dance Groups.

The following year’s Carnivale celebrations, the Club hosted 7 clubs in the Bocce Tournament in September 1987, over the 2 days and it was a big success, with our Albury MP Harold Mair presenting the awards to the winners. This Carnivale was to continue on after 1988 by the Club, holding an annual dinner and dance with a 2 day bocce competition.

Over the years, various ethnic communities have suggested ways of preserving Bonegilla’s place in Australian History. Most of the buildings had either been demolished or removed. Some options were hosting a reunion at Bonegilla.

On 5 December 1987, Back to Bonegilla40 years later” was held at Kookaburra Point to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the opening of the migrant reception centre. The Festival was opened by the Minister for Immigration, Hon. Mick Young and was attended by ethnic groups from all over. The main feature of the event was the registration of former residents. There was also historical displays, folkloric performances and tours.

In 1995 the Slovenian Twin City Club Snežnik Albury/Wodonga wrote to the Hon. Nick Bolkus, Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs, concerning the preservation of Bonegilla Barracks. Following this, we received news that plans were in progress to develop a museum based in Bonegilla.

Back to Bonegilla once again was held in 1997 to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Bonegilla Migrant Centre. The Organisers of the Festival hoped it would lead to a Bonegilla Immigration Museum being established. The Slovenian club hosted clubs once again over 3 days. This included the hiring of a temporary floor to cover the bocce alleys for an extended dance floor.

In 1998, Carnivale cultural events were sponsored by the NSW Government. The event was organised by Albury City Council’s Community Affairs Officer, Cliff Chamberlain, who was a keen supporter of local multicultural events. The Carnivale then continued to be an annual event in September at the Slovenian Club with a marathon 2 day Bocce Competition with well supported attendees from various clubs. A Dinner Dance was held on the Saturday night.

Today, Block 19, which is all that is left of the original site, is a public memory place which is heritage listed. The site and its associated records bring to light the history of post-war immigration.

by Mary Kromar


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