Bridging the Distance | 1948-the-voyage
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In December 1948, the Volendam was the first ship to set
sail from Rotterdam with assisted passage migrants.
This was followed by many other ships and planes up
until the early seventies.


Groote Beer, Zuiderkruis, Johan van Oldenbarnevelt, Nelly, Sibajak, Skaubryn and the Waterman, to name a few, were all vessels bringing thousands of migrants from the Netherlands to Australia. The early migrant ships were often far from luxurious, causing some people to disembark at the earliest opportunity on arrival at Australia. Comfort on the ships improved under the competitive pressure of air travel.


Following the fall of Singapore many people were evacuated from the Dutch East Indies. Not less than 57 aircraft made their way to Australia in a fortnight. Aside from this, flying was still very expensive, making the boat the most important means of transport for migration from the Netherlands. It wasn’t until the early sixties that travelling by airplane became increasingly affordable, reducing travelling time to a few days.