William Johnston and his wife Gertrude 60 years ago hoped moving their family of eight around the world would provide a better life.
Transitioning from their home in Cookstown, Northern Ireland, to Warrnambool in 1959 was not an easy one, but under the guidance of the minister of Allansford Presbyterian Church Reverend Keith Shrader, the Johnston clan soon called Australia home.
Four of the six Johnston siblings enjoyed Monday afternoon at the Wangoom Store and Tea Rooms, one of the first places they dined at in the south-west all those years ago, to celebrate their diamond anniversary in Australia.
The Johnston family travelled from Northern Ireland to Australia and had jobs awaiting them through Reverend Shrader and his wife Marion's Bring out a Briton initiative.
Only daughter Joy Pettig was thrilled to be joined by many close family friends at Monday's celebration.
"The Presbyterian Church brought us over here along with a lot of other immigrants from England and Ireland. Four of us went to school in Warrnambool and we were all taken in by the community and welcomed here," Mrs Pettig said.
"The Shrader's picked us up from Stations Pier and brought us here. My first memory is stopping somewhere for a meat pie which I'd never seen before and thought it was really weird.
"We were probably a bit apprehensive about moving in the beginning but we were looking forward to a new life and they had jobs ready for us as soon as we landed.
"Trouble was brewing in Ireland and with five boys, my father thought this was a good opportunity to have a better life in Australia."
Having been farmers in Northern Ireland, William Johnston and his eldest sons were given work with a local family and middle child Gordon Johnston has warm memories of his time on the land.
"We were share farmers on the Crothers Farm," Mr Johnston said.
"It was an incredible area to live in back then.
"There were so many people we met through being young farmers and part of the Presbyterian Church."
The Johnston family remained in the area for five years before heading to Geelong and Melbourne to pursue further education and work.
"We were embraced here straight away and for 60 years we've kept in touch with a lot of our friends," Mrs Pettig said.
"We moved away in 1965 but we all still have very fond memories of this place and we come back as often as possible.
"A bit of our heart is still in Ireland and we still call it home. But here is also home."
The Bring out a Briton initiative began after Reverend Shrader read how Britons wanted to come and live Down Under as Australia wanted to grow its population.
From 1958-1961 the Shrader's program sponsored 200 immigrant English families.
Reverend Shrader passed away in 1966 but his wife Marion continued the program.
In 1988 Mrs Shrader gave an interview with The Standard at another ex-Briton reunion where she felt glad to have helped so many families.
"He (my husband) said if there are people who want to come out we should be able to help them," she said.
"We concentrated on large families because they couldn't get into a government hostel.
"I continued it until 1971 but then the employment got so difficult and the government was cutting back on immigration."
The Johnston clan of eight was some of the first immigrants under the Shrader program and it is estimated more than 1000 Australian citizens benefited from the Shrader's work.
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