Shipping Trunk

York Family Collection

Source: National Museum of Australia

In December 1952, thousands of Londoners became seriously ill or died of respiratory illnesses as the result of a toxic fog that descended on the city. For the health of their young son Barry, who was badly affected, the York family decided to emigrate to Australia. They packed their belongings in this shipping trunk and sailed for Melbourne in 1954, sponsored by Barry’s uncle and his Australian wife.

The family kept the trunk after settling in the Melbourne suburb of Brunswick, and as an adult Barry donated it to the National Museum of Australia.Whether moving to a different neighbourhood, from city to countryside or to another part of the world, the search for a healthier environment can be a major factor in deciding where to live. The image of Australia as a mild, warm place where people enjoyed a relaxed, outdoor lifestyle was a powerful one in Britain and Europe, especially in the immediate post-war years when food shortages and bitter winters without adequate heating made living conditions difficult to bear.