Daughter's journey to discover family history
Plans to attend November’s Bonegilla Reunion will be an emotional journey for Janine Arkinstall whose late father (Milos Tvrznik) arrived at the camp in 1950 and, ultimately, began a new life.
Mrs Arkinstall knows little about her father’s early life in Czechoslovakia or his time at Bonegilla but hopes to uncover more on her upcoming visit that she hopes to attend with her sister Elizabeth.
The Mildura resident does know Milos put his date of birth up by two years so he could go into the adult camp.
He was 16 years old when he left home, telling his mum he was going fishing with a friend – he never got to see his family again.
Milos drifted for almost two years before getting on board the ship to Australia.
Following his death in 2004, due to his date of birth correction, Mrs Arkinstall discovered he has a third daughter who lives in Finley.
“Looking into my father’s journey to Australia has been an emotional experience for me,” Mrs Arkinstall said.
“Several years ago I started looking on the Bonegilla website to see where dad first arrived.
“I had been planning to visit Bonegilla on Father’s Day but I can’t get there then, so I am determined to attend the November reunion.”
With further research, Mrs Arkinstall has located one direct living relative in Czechoslovakia and plans to visit in 2021.
“I have made contact with some of his Czech family because my mum kept in contact with them but when she passed away last year that tie was broken,” she said.
“I sent off three letters to random addresses and got one response and plan to catch up with them.”
Milos was the last one left out of his friendship group to leave the camp after waiting for work.
After numerous jobs scattered around Australia, including picking grapes in Mildura, he settled in the Victorian town of Red Cliffs, just south of Mildura.
It was in Red Cliffs where he met his wife, Lorraine Lanyon, who was working at the picture theatre.
They married in 1964.
Mrs Arkinstall completed a history assignment on her dad in year 10.
“I have got a bit of background on him but obviously there’s a lot more to his life than I knew, which is really sad to find out after the fact he has gone,” she said.
Mrs Arkinstall ordered a plaque in memory of her father, which has been included among the names listed on The Arc memorial sculpture.
“I saw you could order plaques in memory of family, so I didn’t think twice about starting the process,” she said.
The Bonegilla Reunion on November 2 and 3 will celebrate 71 years since the Bonegilla Migrant Reception and Training Centre was established.
There will be guided tours, cultural performances, food and music.