The Bonegilla Migrant Reception and Training Centre

Between 1947 and 1971, a wave of migrants came to Australia from war-torn Europe. Around 300,000 migrants from more than 50 countries arrived, hoping for a better life.

For some, their first home was the Migrant Reception and Training Centre in Bonegilla, northern Victoria.

The centre at Bonegilla opened in December 1947 on the repurposed site of a former military camp.

Life at Bonegilla

Around 170,000 displaced persons came to Australia immediately after World War II. Nearly half lived at Bonegilla when they arrived in Australia. Some stayed for weeks, others for months.

Migrants at the centre were taught English and learnt about life in Australia. They were then employed in areas where there were labour shortages, boosting Australia’s population and economy.

From the 1950s until 1971, Bonegilla was home to people who had come to Australia as part of Australian Government-assisted employment and migration schemes.

In 1952 and 1961, Bonegilla residents rioted about long waits for promised work.

The Albury Wodonga region benefited from the economic boost and social changes brought about by migrants who chose to stay near Bonegilla. This legacy continues today.

Records about Bonegilla

The National Archives has a large collection of records about Bonegilla.

Centre administration records

Centre administration records are mostly held in:

  • series A2567
  • other Department of Immigration correspondence series.

Name index or registration cards

Name index or registration cards of migrants who lived at Bonegilla usually include a description and photograph.

You can find name index or registration cards in:

Photographs of Bonegilla

Photographs of Bonegilla provide an insight into life at the centre. Thousands of people passed through its dining halls, played in its grounds and learned English in its classrooms.

You can find photographs of Bonegilla in:

and at Destination: Australia.

Records about other migrant centres

Looking for administrative records for other camps, migrant reception centres or hostels? Ask us a question.