Seven-year-old Maira Kalnins from Latvia was the 50,000th displaced person to arrive at Greta Migrant Camp.
The pretty blonde haired girl was chosen from a ship filled with people to greet the-then Australian immigration minister Arthur Calwell on board a ship at Fremantle, before it sailed to Newcastle.
She delivered a speech she had learned by heart and she was presented with a beautifully dressed doll whose eyes opened and closed and a toy koala.
The now married Mrs Maira Kluina, 73, lives in Turramurra and still has the toy koala.
She will come back to Greta with her brother Inar and sister Sandra, who was born there, for the 66th anniversary celebrations at the camp site this weekend.
The Kalnins family came from Latvia which was under Russian occupation in 1940. They were evacuated in 1944, trekking through Germany and displaced person camps.
“I arrived at Greta with my parents in August 1949,” Mrs Kluina said.
“Some memories are good, some not so good.
“Arts and crafts after school were enjoyable and so were the sports we played.
“The kids of the camp ran pretty wild. It was fun. We did things we were not allowed to do. We would run along the big water pipe behind the camp and along the railway line.
“School was not so good for me. I did not know it at the time but I found out in my forties that I have dyslexia.
“Spelling and times tables were impossible for me but I was very good at English.”
Another not so good memory was the time Maira was accidentally shot in the leg by another child with an air rifle and had a pellet removed from her leg which left a big scar.
The family moved into chocolate city (timber huts) and lived in two rooms.
They were later moved into silver city (Nissen tin huts).
“The huts were hot in summer and cold in winter. The living quarters were cramped,” Mrs Kluina said.
“My father was an ambulance driver at the camp and my mother worked in the kitchen and then became a nurse’s aid at the hospital there.”
The family lived at Greta camp for three years before moving to the Central Coast.
“I am looking forward to being back at Greta and this time I am determined to climb Mount Molly Morgan, like we did as children, doing something we weren’t supposed to do, but having great adventures,” Mrs Kluina said
66th anniversary celebrations
Hundreds of people with family connections to Greta Migrant Camp will attend 66th anniversary celebrations as part of Refugee Week this month.
Greta Migrant Camp was the biggest migrant camp in Australia, taking in 100,000 refugees escaping war torn Europe after World War II.
The theme of the celebration is Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow starting with a free film night on Friday, June 12.
The 1984 movie Silver City will be shown at Greta Workers Club. Doors open at 6pm and the film starts at 7pm.
An exhibition and official opening will be held on Saturday, June 13 at Greta Workers Club at 10am. The free event will include bus trips to the former camp site, exhibits of memorabilia, photographs and costumes .
A free exhibition will be open on Sunday, June 14 at Greta Workers Club from 10am until 2pm.