People of Helping Hand: Liliana - Helping Hand

People of Helping Hand: Liliana


Meet Liliana, who lives at Copperhouse Court, one of our residential care homes in Whyalla, the traditional home of the Banggarla people.

During the 1950s and 1960s, almost 30,000 Italians migrated to South Australia.

At 20 years of age, Liliana, left her home in Trieste, in Northern Italy, to start a new life with her husband Tullio. ‘My husband came out to Australia first. We decided that if he liked it here, I would follow, and if he didn’t, he would come back’, she recalls.

Lilianna and Tullio arrived in Whyalla in August 1956, and she celebrated her 21st birthday a few months later in November.

‘Whyalla was a very different place. Imagine coming here from a city like Trieste? Whyalla, felt like a desert to me. And the dust storms. Mamma Mia! I didn’t understand the language and the food was different. You couldn’t buy a fresh tomato. The only place you could buy olive oil was at a chemist, in a small medicinal bottle. Somehow, we managed, but it was very hard.’

‘There were quite a few Italian families in Whyalla and someone we knew would drive to Adelaide once a week and bring back products like pasta, wine, olive oil and coffee that we could buy.’

Liliana and Tullio, lived in Whyalla for a year or so before making the move to Sydney where they stayed for six years and started a family. ‘In Sydney, my husband was doing shift work, I hardly saw him. So, I said, “let’s go back”. It was calmer here. Quieter.’

Life went on. Over the decades there were many family trips back to Trieste to rekindle old memories and make new ones. ‘I would go back to Italy and according to the Government I was no longer “Italiano”. In my heart, I still feel Italian, but my loyalty is to Australia first, this is my home’, says Liliana proudly.

Sadly, Tullio passed away and a few years ago, after some health issues of her own, Liliana moved into Copperhouse Court.

‘Thank God I was able to find a place here in Whyalla. My daughter visits and calls me every day. Everyone tells me how lucky I am to have her and its true.’

Liliana enjoys all the lifestyle activities at Copperhouse Court. And when it comes to food – she says, she is happy to try anything. If she doesn’t like what’s on the menu, she’ll ask the staff to make her a toasted cheese and tomato sandwich instead!

At 87 years of age, Liliana looks back on her journey from Trieste to Whyalla as ‘a great adventure’.

People of Helping Hand Liliana Whyalla
Liliana with a photo scrapbook of a family trip to Trieste

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