Poms

Reporter: Graeme Butler

Perth in the 1960's was sold to the world as a progressive city, fun in the sun and an escape from the doom and gloom of mother England. At ten pounds a pop there were plenty of hopefuls like Eric Shepherd ready to move to the other side of the world to give it a red hot go.

"I think the opportunities that were available in Australia were better than those that were available in the United Kingdom and I think one was looking into the future" says Eric.

These days Eric proudly flies the Aussie flag, but for a long time it was touch and go. He was interviewed for a study a few years after he arrived in Australia more than 50 years ago. It was a different story then.

June Caunt is doing a university doctorate, studying what life was like for British migrants. She's discovered Australia wasn't all it was cracked up to be.

"I know we were given pamphlets that showed us housing which actually looked like Nedland houses but we moved into asbestos houses with tin roofs. We found dunnies down the back of the garden after we'd been used to indoor toilets and the main complain by the people in the 1961 and 1966 study was there was no hot water systems in houses" says June.

The study has revealed that complaining about conditions earned the migrants the whingeing tag and it stuck.

So now the score's been settled and those who stuck it out can proudly call Australia home.

Far from being offended by the sometimes maligned term, Simon Holway makes his living as a whingeing Pom. He's written the book on it or at least the magazine…

"I publish 'Whingeing Pom' magazine and our sales figures increase issue by issue so I'm kind of thinking there's still a market out there" says Simon.

According to Simon, Perth might have changed since the ten pound Poms first set foot here, but the culture shock continues.

June says, "Fast forward 50 years. Have Poms stopped whingeing? No, but it's not whingeing, it's grumbling. As I've tried to say if I go up to my neighbour and say "god it's hot" am I whingeing or am I grumbling and if my neighbour says I'm whingeing is she misunderstanding what I'm saying".

June Caunt is keen to hear from migrants interviewed for the Appleyard study in 1959, 1961 and 1966, or their children. She can be contacted by email: junecaunt@yahoo.com or phone 9434 2745.