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Direct Immigration

Direct immigration to Maryborough was no doubt the catalyst to the Wide Bay becoming what it is today. Almost 23,000 Immigrants were to make Maryborough the place where they first touched Australian soil. Some travelled elsewhere, but a large number were to settle here and carve out a future for themselves.

Most of us would not even take a trip to Fraser Island on the ships that brought them here. Many endured wretched living conditions and poor food supplied by the Shipping companies. They watched children die of diseases caused by lack of quarantine and medical inspections. What thoughts must have raced through their minds when they first sighted the Port of Maryborough.

No doubt for many, the life they had left behind was not great, most were poor and could not make a living for themselves or their families. Australia had been depicted to them as a land of plenty and no doubt they had opportunities here they would never have in their homeland. The sight they first saw, must surely have caused them to doubt their decision to migrate.

Maryborough in those days was a few scattered cottages, no streets to speak of. The Immigrants were housed in a depot, until such time as they could find employment and housing. This depot was no palace and many found conditions there no better than the ships they travelled on.

Quite a number of migrants found employment on out lying properties. Others stayed to take up positions in the town. For some their first home was a tent. Camping today with all the mod cons and Parks set up to make it comfortable is a novelty most of us enjoy as a part of our holidays.

For these people it was a hardship they had to endure. For the women of that time life must have been almost intolerable. Living in squalid settlements, giving birth to children in these unsanitary conditions, must have undoubtedly led to the high mortality rate of the time. In the face of adversity most of the emigrants developed a strength to go on and lay the foundations for a future we all enjoy today.