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Derrier Camp for New Australian men, refugees from Europe c1949

This photo was taken by a Yugoslav New Australian in 1949. It is annotated in Serbian (Latin Script) identifying the tent the refugee was assigned, as well as Bobi, the camp pet.

When Australia was receiving displaced persons (refugees) after World War II, men were assigned employment opportunities and Queensland Forestry Department accepted groups of men, both single and married men. One place where some were assigned was Imbil State Forest. Temporary camps were set up under canvas, this being one of the first. It was located a few kilometres from the village of Imbil, near Derrier Creek at the foot of Derrier Hill.

In the camps the New Australians, as they were known, created their own social life: piano accordion and violin were played both for entertainment and celebrations.

Mr Robert Cosic from Wales supplied a number of photographs that had come to him, after the death of one Mirko Cosic, who lived in Wales and England after the war.

"I have a collection of photographs sent to my late father from an as yet unidentified cousin of his, by the name of Mirko Cosic. These photographs are annoted as coming from Imbil, Queensland around 1949/50. They show a group of male Displaced Persons mainly Yugoslav but including at least one Ukrainian(?) and Lithuanian."

-- Robert T Cosic, Milford Haven, UK --

To me this is the beginning of a most remarkable story of coincidences.

As a child, age 5, I would be taken to this camp by my uncle, George Price, as he delivered groceries in a utility truck from Moynehan's store in Imbil. Naturally as a child, Bobby, the dog was among my clearest memories of my visits to the Derrier Camp. And here 6o years later a photo turns up from around the world, that includes the camp and Bobby!

Some of these displaced men were married and their children became my school mates and friends, even to this day. Though I did not know the particular man, who sent the photos home, through the photos we a were able to trace his movements. He never married. After working in the Imbil State Forest, he moved to the Forestry at Oberon, NSW. Evidently he saw an opportunity there and set himself up as a barber in a salon near the Tourist Hotel, Oberon.

The grandson of my uncle, who used to take me to the Derrier New Australian Camp, works for a timber company that has a large plant at Oberon and in Gympie. In preparing for one of his recent business trips from Gympie to Oberon, his wife was booking his accommodation in Oberon, just after we discussed the fact that one of the photos showed the barber at the door of his barber's shop in some 'cold country' town, with the sign "Tourist Hotel" in the background. As the Tourist Hotel, Oberon hasn't changed its façade in all those years we were able to confirm his movements to Oberon.

Later the displaced person-cum-New Australian-cum-forestry worker-cum-barber became an Orthodox Priest, which took him around the world till he was based in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. There in recent years he passed away.

Photo: Courtesy Robert Cosic

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  • Uploaded on February 14, 2013
  • © All Rights Reserved
    by Ian Stehbens