Charlie Catania left Malta as a child to have a chance at a better life in Australia.

My father gave my mother three options: England, Canada or Australia. I am nearly 80 years old now and have been in Australia for close to 72 years. My father and mother wanted to give me and my siblings opportunities that did not exist in Malta after the second world war.

England and Canada were too cold so they chose Australia, which my parents knew nothing about. The Australian government at the time were seeking immigrants and assisted them with the cost of moving there. I remember leaving Malta with my mother on the SS Austuris which also had British people on board going for a new life in Australia.

My father planned to arrive first but got to Australia after us. His intention was to arrive before my mother and I, as neither of us spoke or understood English at the time. However, the flight they were supposed to take from England was delayed by a few days. So he got in touch with the nuns of St. Vincent Hospital in Sydney, who sponsored him, and they organised a Maltese-speaking gentleman to meet us when the ship berthed in Sydney. A week or so later, my father and brother arrived and we rented a flat in Darlinghurst, before my parents bought a newly-built house in Maroubra.

I was put into boarding school in 1949 and came out at the end of 1955. My father, who was a former British navy man during WWII, believed that if you were going to be an Aussie you had to live, eat, play and be educated with them.

In Australia I met Mary, my wife of 55 years. We had four children and they had children of their own. We have eleven grandchildren but no great-grand-children yet. God willing.

My wife and I have been to Malta twice. Once in 1990 and a second time in 2002, after visiting my daughter and her family who were living in England at the time. My wife and I still watch the Maltese news on SBS television to keep up with the latest news from Malta.

Are you a Maltese person living abroad? Contact 

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