Alec and Serafina Luciani in Ebor with their children (from left) Anna, Giugliana, Dina and Giov ianni.
Alec and Serafina Luciani in Ebor with their children (from left) Anna, Giugliana, Dina and Giov ianni.

Re-settled Italian family found freedom at Ebor


THREE weeks after Serafina Luciani married her husband Alessandro in Italy in 1950, he left for Australia and a job in Inverell.

They didn't see each other again until two years later when they were reunited on the docks in Melbourne.

"I was sick the whole trip," Serafina said.

"When we arrived he was standing there with flowers and no hair.

"But it was still him."

In fact the gruelling three-

week voyage also resulted in Serafina losing hair ? all the hair on her legs fell out and never grew back.

During World War Two 'Alec', as he became known in Australia, had been one of a number of Italian POWs sent here from India by the Brit- ish. He worked in Inverell and after the war was sponsored to return there by the landowner.

Although from a farming background, Serafina was nervous arriving at her new home.

"The language thing was terrible," she said.

"There was another Italian wife there but I couldn't understand her dialect! There were a lot of mistakes and a lot of trouble ? a camera could have got some good stories."

However necessity meant Serafina learnt to understand, if not speak, fast.

"I understood the basics soon."

The tea chest she arrived with had been filled with olive oil, pasta and coffee. These ran out quickly and soon chickpeas became the substitute for coffee and pasta was made by hand.

Twelve months later and already the steady stream of Italian migrants were bringing all that was needed with them.

Four years after arriving the Lucianis moved to Majors Creek near Ebor to manage another property.

By then the first of four children, Giugliana, had been born.

The move was not easy for Serafina but she said people were always kind and came to talk to and help her.

"It did take a long time with the language but I never felt lonely or homesick," she said.

"Things were very bad in Italy after the war. There was no food and no work ? it was much better in Australia."

Eventually Alec bought a farm in Meldrum in partnership with his newly-arrived brother Gabriello.

The family however lived in Ebor, giving the tiny town what daughter Dina Luciani describes as its 'first multi-cultural event'.

"There were never any racist comments," Dina said.

"I don't even recall hearing the word 'wog', although we did have the nickname 'spaghetti'."

In fact the Lucianis were very popular locals, especially when it came time to make the annual homemade prosciutto, salami and wine.

"Dad always invited everyone around and filled them up with last year's wine and salami," Dina laughed.

For Serafina, the fortnightly dances at the hall after the cattle sales were a highlight.

"I used to make scones and sandwiches and take the kids in the pram to the sales.

"At night we all danced ? I loved that."

Now retired in North Beach and widowed since 2001, Serafina enjoys her life in Australia.

"You are free to do what you like here ? it's good."

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