Teaser Tuesday!

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Teaser Tuesday MemeWelcome to Teaser Tuesday, the series where I share snippets from new and past releases and works-in-progress, and occasionally twist the arms of author friends to do the same.

Ooh, I love having guests on Teaser Tuesday. It’s a nice break from featuring my own work and guests always share really cool excerpts.

Today is no exception on the cool excerpt front, or the cool author for that matter because, my lovelies, we’re hosting Victoria Purman. Rah!

Now Victoria has been a guest previously on Teaser Tuesday, promoting her sexy firefighter novella Flame, from the Firefighters of Montana Series. Of course, you’d be more familiar with Victoria from her coastal romances such as Nobody Like Him, Someone Like You, Our Kind of Love, and the family saga The Three Miss Allens.

Clever Victoria has taken another creative turn with her latest release, and you are going to be as fascinated as I am by this one. Here’s Victoria to tell you the story behind The Last of the Bonegilla Girls and share an excerpt.

Make sure you read to the end because there could be a GIVEAWAY!


Victoria Purman authorIn 1954, my grandparents Stefan and Maria Scheirich arrived in Australia with five children, two suitcases, a wooden trunk, and memories of their birthplace devastated by the war.

Inside that trunk were some photos and papers, their best clothes, a new set of saucepans that my Oma had bought in Germany and hadn’t wanted to leave behind, and some new Christmas candles. When they put them up on their first Australian Christmas tree, the candles wilted in the 40 degree heat and the whole family cried with homesickness.

They’d lived in Germany as refugees since the end of the war – they were Hungarian-born but of German heritage – and had decided to cross the seas to create new lives for themselves and their children.

They disembarked the Fairsea on June 12, stepped on to a train and then got off at Bonegilla, near Albury Wodonga on the New South Wales Victoria border. It was June and freezing cold and they lived there with thousands of other “new Australians” while waiting to be assigned work anywhere in this wide brown land.

My Oma and Opa and their children were among the three hundred thousands people who passed through the Bonegilla Migrant Reception Centre while it was operating between 1947 and 1971.

More than one in twenty Australians have a link to someone who passed through Bonegilla. As I’ve grown older, I’ve asked myself how much I really know about my parents’ and our grandparents’ stories. And that question was the inspiration behind “The Last of the Bonegilla Girls”.


Sixteen year old Elizabeta Schmidt blinked open her sleepy eyes. The camp. The word had been whispered from one family to another on the rust red train, in whatever common language people had. Like a Chinese whisper, the words spread from carriage to carriage, seat after seat, over hats and scarved heads and little children’s curls. In hushed and tired voices, like a wave, it meant that there journey was almost over.

It had been six weeks since the Schmidt family had left Bremerhaven to begin their journey on the Fairsea through the North Sea, around Europe to Malta, then Port Said in Egypt, and to Melbourne via Perth. After a rough voyage over the Great Australian Bight, during which her mother was sick every day, they’d berthed at Port Melbourne and then crossed a wharf and climbed aboard the train with many carriages. It was almost midnight and Elizabeta was tired and scared. The leather seats were a small comfort. She and her family had been forced on to all kinds of trains before with nothing so luxurious; they had had no windows and only wooden planks to sit on. Elizabeta didn’t mind this Australian train at all.

The Last of the Bonegilla Girls by Victoria PurmanShe pulled her brand new woollen winter coat tighter around her and lifted the collar to cover her ears. Not everyone seemed so happy to be going to the place called Bonegilla. The sobbing from behind her had begun an hour before and the woman hadn’t stopped. Elizabeta didn’t recognise the words, but thought it might be Russian perhaps, or Ukrainian. Elizabeta had been surrounded by languages her whole life. She spoke Hungarian and German, and had picked up some English in the classes provided on the Fairsea on the voyage over and from lessons from her father. She recognised the harshness of Polish with all its zeds and jheds. The passionate roar of Italian and the sounds of Greek, in which everything seemed to end in ki. People had picked up languages like scraps of food, anything to help survive the war. In her world for the past ten years, everyone had been seeking refuge from somewhere.

The train slowed and lurched and then pulled up with a brake squeal of fingernails on a blackboard and the woman behind Elizabeta began howling even louder.

Someone whispered in German, ‘Sie war in den Lagern. Sie mag es nicht, Züge. Sie verstehen.

She was in the camps. She doesn’t like trains. You understand.

There were murmurs and nods of agreement all around.

The rattle of the train stilled and Elizabeta stared out the window into the black nothingness. There wasn’t a star in the sky. Dim lights brightened a platform, but there were no buildings to be seen. There was a strange whistling in the dark, a rustle of leaves perhaps in the distance. The sobbing woman howled again, which set off a couple of tired children who began to squawk. Slowly, everyone around her stood, collected their belongings and bags, reached for the hands of children, and moved down the carriage towards the open doors. Elizabeta stayed close to her parents, Jozef and Berta, and when her mother asked her to make sure she held her little sister’s hand, Elizabeta clasped Luisa’s fingers in hers. Her nine year old sister looked up at her with tired eyes.

Wir sind hier, Luisa,’ she said.


How wonderful does this sound? Brilliant, I reckon and perfect for Mother’s Day. If you’re hungry for more, which I bet you are, you can read an even meatier, 5 chapter excerpt here.

Better still, purchase The Last of the Bonegilla Girls in paperback or ebook today from your favourite book retailer or try these online stores:

Booktopia | Angus and Robertson Bookworld | Dymocks
Amazon.com | Amazon.com.au | iBooks | Kobo | Google Play

Now, as mentioned in the intro, Victoria has generously offered you lucky lovelies a …


The Last of the Bonegilla Girls is described as a post-Second World War story of strong female ties and family, secrets and lies, set in the multicultural Australia of the fifties.

So let’s talk multi-culturalism. What’s your favourite aspect of Australia’s multicultural society?

I want to say something noble about people and culture but I’m going to be selfish and nominate the food instead. I adore how we can eat the world in Australia, without stepping a toe out of the country.

Share your thoughts and you’ll be entered into the draw to win a signed paperback of The Last of the Bonegilla Girls.

Please note: Giveaway closes midnight Friday, Australian Eastern Time, 27th April 2018. Australian postal addresses only.

If you’d like to learn more about Victoria and her wonderful books, please visit her website. You can also connect on Facebook and Twitter via @VictoriaPurman.


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29 thoughts on “Teaser Tuesday!

  1. AvatarMaria

    Would love to read this novel, having parents who migrated from Malta in 1955 & 1952 on their own, both in their early teens, leaving their families behind. It shows the strength & courage of this generation.

  2. AvatarCarole Burant

    I so loved reading Victoria’s reason behind this book…I can’t even imagine what it was like to have to leave your country and settle somewhere that was completely foreign. I live in Sudbury, Ontario, Canada and we are a multi cultural city and we have tons of immigrants who have made our city richer in customs and yes, food:) On Canada Day, I always attend the celebration and we get to taste foods from all over the world thanks to our immigrants:) It sounds like Australia is the same and I think that’s fabulous!! Carole Burant

    1. Cathryn HeinCathryn Hein Post author

      You can really feel Victoria’s passion for this story, can’t you, Carole? I bet that passion has made this book a very special one.
      Your city sounds wonderful! Another place on my bucket list. Thanks so much for sharing.

  3. Avatardeebebbington

    I have read Victoria’s ‘The Three Miss Allens’ and loved it and have been waiting patiently to read ‘The Last of The Bonnegilla Girls. Well-researched historical fiction is so interesting. It brings our Australian past into our lives and a better understanding of our wonderful multi-cultural society. We are so lucky to share our wonderful country with such diverse and amazing families a lot of them refugees. They have worked extremely hard to fit in to our way of life and I feel privileged to share some of their culture in the form of foods introduced to us from so many different countries. Australia now is a rich melting pot of different nationalities and customs which are all blending in to produce a whole new generation of well-rounded citizens.

  4. AvatarMelissa

    Oh my. This story will touch many a heart. Growing up, my best friends family emigrated from Macedonia. Spending time with them gave me so much respect and understanding of how much their journey took. And how their life has entwined with others from Australia. My Beastie married an Australia, even though she was born here, she was Macedonian. And now her daughter has the privilege of 2 languages and stories of life.
    Victoria, your story will be a touching story that will more than likely cry, as your books speak with love. I’m so happy I’ve met you, so I can relate to your story. Congratulations on the release of your beautiful book. And thank you too Cathryn for having Victoria on your blog.

    1. Cathryn HeinCathryn Hein Post author

      That’s such a great line, Melissa – ‘your books speak with love’. I suspect Victoria will be very chuffed with that because this sounds very much like a book from the heart.
      What a lovely experience with your friend and family!

  5. AvatarJoanne Seaton

    This is a very insightful look at how our migrants started their life here in Australia. We have such a wonderful multicultural society today. And as the statistics say 1 in 20 will no some who came through Bonegilla and I am one if them.
    Victoria has excelled herself with this book it is one that so many people of all different cultures will be able to enjoy. ⛤⛤⛤⛤⛤

  6. AvatarSonia Bellhouse

    The bravery of those who don’t speak English and migrate anyway- Our neighbours came from the former Yugoslavia and the mother taught herself English via TV and children’s books.The children became frequent visitors to our house and we hosted their first Christmas away from home. Being migrants ourselves although English speakers I felt their cultural shock and wanted to help them acclimatise.
    So many people with their hopes and dreams of a new life an o many success stories.

    I d be fascinated to read The Bongella Girls after loving The Three MIss Allens.

    1. Cathryn HeinCathryn Hein Post author

      I bet your neighbour is forever grateful for your kindness, Sonia.
      It’s hard to imagine the culture shock and how challenging life must have been for new migrants. Especially those not speaking the local language. I got a bit of a feel for that in France, when we lived there and I spoke very little French, but my experience would be nowhere near the same as so many French know at least some English.
      Thanks for sharing.

  7. AvatarGeraldine Furini

    I am very much looking forward to reading The Last of the Bonegilla Girls for our August Book Club read. After reading about this I realised my father-in-law would have passed through here when he came to Australia from Italy after the war. This will give it extra meaning for me and my husband as he has now passed away. Food is definitely something that comes to mind when I think multiculturalism as I have learned a lot of Italian cooking over the years and love to try all types of food. Have loved Victoria’s books especially The Boys of Summer Series and also The Three Miss Allens so I know this one will not disappoint!

    1. Cathryn HeinCathryn Hein Post author

      With that personal connection reading The Last of the Bonegilla Girls will be a experience for you, Geraldine. It’s always nice when we have that with a book, isn’t it? And in Victoria’s expert hands you know you won’t be disappointed.

  8. AvatarNatasha Woolfe

    Looks like it will be a good book to read 💙📚 The part where it explained the woman crying had been in a camp gave me chills. As for multicultural Australia, I too love the variety of foods different cultures bring to our town. I live in a regional town, but we have lots of restaurants, like: Chinese, Thai, Greek, Mexican, Lebanese and Japanese. When I was a teenager, my sister and I worked at the local Chinese takeaway shop and got to know the owners very well. They showed us how to cook traditional Chinese food, not just the ‘Aussie Chinese’ that was served in the restaurant.

    1. Cathryn HeinCathryn Hein Post author

      What a great experience you and your sister had at the Chinese restaurant, Natasha. That must have been so interesting and fun. And I agree. the part in the excerpt about the crying was very moving. Thanks and good luck!

  9. AvatarRenee Finn

    I would definitely have to say the food and family events. Being half italian and getting to grow up experiencing the food and days with family making sauce and salami,are some of my favourite memories.
    I can not wait to get my hands on a copy of this book as Victoria is an excellent writer.

    1. Cathryn HeinCathryn Hein Post author

      That’s so nice, Renee. I’ve seen cooking shows where they’ve filmed families making passata and all sorts of smallgoods, and they always look like wonderful days, filled with love and laughter.

  10. AvatarChristine Hann

    Victoria is a new writer to me, but after reading this excerpt I am busting to go find her novels! Growing up, my neighbour’s, of whom the 3 daughters are still some of my closest friends, were of Yugoslavian descent, with their grandparents living next door to them, “one house up” from me. Walking home from school together I was often included in invites by Nanna and Dadda to come for a visit, being given a chocolate as a treat and seeing the wine/grappa being made. It wasn’t until many years later I heard their immigration story and tales of hardship.

    I love that my little country town gave them and so many others, whether Polish, Italian or Chinese, a new chance at life and valued their contributions to the community of skills and hard work, and valued the sharing of their cultural traditions.

    1. Cathryn HeinCathryn Hein Post author

      Wow. Everyone is sharing amazing stories and yours is no exception, Christine. Thanks so much for sharing. Making wine and grappa… what fun!

  11. AvatarValerie Chapman

    As I said to Tricia Stringer yesterday, I live only a short distance from Bonegilla…..so will be very interested to read this book. Apparently my ex father in law stayed there, in the camp, when he first arrived in Australia. (A german immigrant.)
    Not long after I arrived up here in the North East of Victoria (about 15 x years ago) my family and I went out to the remains of the camp and had a good look around….wondering which cabin my father in law had lived in at the time. So in some regards I will feel a type of connection to Victoria’s book. Can’t wait to read it, and then pass it on to my Mum. I actually travel through Bonegilla to do my local shopping in Wodonga….as I did today. It brings back to mind some of the few stories that my FIL told whilst he was staying in Bonegilla.

    1. Cathryn HeinCathryn Hein Post author

      This book will be a wonderful experience for you, Valerie, living so close to Bonegilla and with the family connection. Thanks and all the best in the giveaway.

  12. AvatarSue Gerhardt Griffiths

    This is one book I’m longing to read and have been waiting months and months for and I’m sure while reading I’m going to shed a tear or two. Last year November Steven and I visited the Bonegilla migrant camp (which is now called the Bonegilla Migrant Experience) and I was totally thrown when I saw my dad in a photo on one of their gigantic outdoor photo walls. It was truly amazing and what was even more fabulous I found a photo of my parents in one of the books they were selling and in another book the same photo which is on the photo wall on the front page. The title of the books: Sharing Bonegilla Stories and Picturing and Re-picturing Bonegilla. I’ve yet to read them and am thinking of doing so on the first anniversary of my dad’s death. My parents, my sister and I spent a small amount of time at Bonegilla in March 1966.
    I too will nominate the food, I think accepting and enjoying the variety of food made by people from other cultures brings us closer together.

    1. Cathryn HeinCathryn Hein Post author

      I thought this book would be right up your alley, Sue, and was wondering when you were going to comment!
      It must have been an amazing experience returning to Bonegilla, and seeing your dad’s photo on the wall. Must add this to my visit list.
      Good luck in the draw.

  13. Cathryn HeinCathryn Hein Post author

    What a fantastic response. Thanks everyone. Your memories and experiences are very special and we appreciate you sharing them very much.

    The giveaway has now closed. Congratulations to Sue who has won a signed copy of The Last of the Bonegilla Girls. Lots of reading pleasure there.

    Thanks again, everyone and I hope to see you again this Tuesday when we’ll be sharing another brilliant book teaser and paperback giveaway. I’ve just read this book and it’s one you will not want to miss out on. All revealed on Tuesday!

  14. AvatarSue Gerhardt Griffiths

    OMG, thank you so very much, Victoria and Cathryn! I have tears in my eyes, this is so exciting to win a signed copy, especially having such a huge connection to Bonegilla, it’s just so sad dad died before I could show him this book but I’m sure he’s looking down from heaven with a smile on his face.
    I was ready to buy the book today but thought I better wait until the giveaway was drawn. Once again a huge thanks!

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