Lives in photos – Part 3


 I’m continuing with the series on family photos and the lives of the Veneto market gardeners. In this third part, I focus on photos that represented the life in the community at ‘Lockleys’ during  the war, and soon after.

Gatherings of the Veneto community

I’m interested in photos of groups of Veneto market gardeners and the people they knew during and after the Second World War. I’m thankful that interviewees and others have given me permission to use the photos. By the mid-1940s, the pioneer families were established on their market gardens in the area they called ‘Lockleys’. Although there had been challenges for the community during the war years, the Veneto market gardeners continued to gather and celebrate and photos show aspects of their daily lives. Perhaps increasing numbers of people had cameras which might explain why there are more photos. After the war the families sponsored and welcomed new Veneto migrants who were leaving Italy in large numbers because of the destruction caused by the occupation and the poverty that followed especially in the Veneto region.

Photos of weddings
Studio photos were formal records of the wedding parties. During the war, Luigia Ballestrin and Eugenio Zalunardo married. Eugenio or Marena had arrived in 1927 and leased land on Grange Road for his market garden in the late 1930s. Luigia had accompanied her mother to Adelaide in 1938 when she was 23 years old.

Marriage of Luigia Ballestrin and Eugenio Zaluanrdo, Adelaide 1943.

The wedding photo in 1943 shows various members of the Ballestrin family. Although the war had created shortages and restrictions, the wedding group looks beautifully dressed. Thank you to Silvano Ballestrin for annotating the photo.

Marriage of Rosina Tonellato and Lui Santin 1945

Marriage of Rosina Tonellato and Lui Santin, Adelaide, 1945.

In 1945, Rosina Tonellato married Lui Santin. Rosina was daughter of pioneers, Secondo Tonellato and Elisabetta Gatto. Lui was the eldest son of Giovanni Santin and Costantina Visentin. Both families had come from Caselle di Altivole. In the studio portrait, Lui’s father stands beside him and Rosina’s father stands beside her. The mothers were not included in this photo.

Women on Frogmore Road

Group of women and Lina Ballestrin on Frogmore Road, c 1945/46. Photo, Lina Marchioro (Rismondo).

Lina Marchioro took the photo of a group of women and children taken in mid 1940s. The Veneta women and child, Lina Ballestrin, are pictured with Rene Destro who had married a Veneto man. Rene was good friends with the Veneto market gardener families. The women were probably taking a break from working on the gardens. Thanks to Silvano Ballestrin for annotating the photo.

 Children on Frogmore Road

Johnny Marchioro’s fifth birthday. Children from three Ballestrin families, Daminato and Piovesan families, Frogmore Road, 1945.

Lina Marchioro took the photo of the children who attended Johnny Marchioro’s fifth birthday in August 1945. I like the way that Lina included the glass houses in the background. The children hold oranges which would have been a special treat at the time.


The day after the marriage of Anna Mattiazzo and Vito Santin, 1949
It was tradition that the day after a wedding, relatives and friends would gather to finish drinking the beer and to eat food left over from the reception that had been held in a packing shed. In this photo, taken after the marriage of Anna Mattiazzo and Vito Santin in 1949, a group pose for a photo. There are mainly men, a mix of generations who had arrived before the war and post-war arrivals who the older Veneto generation called ‘new Australians.’ The eldest in the group is in the middle foreground, Giovanni Santin, who would have been 63 years of age. The young boys around him are from the Ballestrin, Marchioro and Piovesan and other families. The informality of the photo contrasts with a studio portrait or a snap taken outside a church after the wedding ceremony.

Gathering of Veneti, the day after the marriage of Anna Mattiazzo and Vito Santin, Valetta Road, 1949. Source unknown.

A gathering of families
Some people in the photo below of the large group are from market garden families and it could be a group who had migrated from Riese Pio X. I’ve talked to a few people about the photo which Chris Rebellato found in her parents’ collection.

Group of Veneto families and single men. 'Lockleys', c mid-late 1940s. Photo courtesy Chris Rebellato nee Mattiazzo.
Group of Veneto families and single men. ‘Lockleys’, c mid-late 1940s. Photo courtesy Chris Rebellato nee Mattiazzo. Source unknown.

The guess is that it was taken in the mid-late 1940s. Why has the group gathered? The photo was taken outdoors but the group has been arranged in a formal way. People are dressed smartly as though the photo was a record of a special occasion.


The images live on beyond the events and the lives of many of the people who are the subjects in the photos. They reflect the lives of a small migrant community living on the edges of Anglo Australia in Adelaide.


Madeleine Regan
9 January 2022



End of year – New Year

The year is closing and it’s appropriate to reflect on the past 12 months and the blogs on the website related to the Veneto market gardeners oral history project.

In January we held a gathering of Veneto market gardener families and it was a lovely social occasion at the Mater Christi parish hall, Seaton. About 40 people were present and for the first time, we welcomed grandchildren – it was great that Lina and Lui Campagnaro’s granddaughters were  there to learn about the Veneto market gardener community, see the connections between families and view the photo loop of wonderful old family photos that people have given me permission to use for the Veneto market gardeners’ project. Oh! And they tasted the delicious food that people so generously contributed to the event.

Angelo Piovesan, Guido Cavallin, Silvano Ballestrin. Veneto market gardener family gathering, January 2021. Courtesy, Alex Bennett.

At the gathering, Angelo Piovesan spoke about the value of the website in maintaining the history of the community and the possibility of gaining support from the Veneto Club so that it is maintained into the future. It was pleasing that the Veneto Club agreed to provide financial support for the costs of the website. Thank you to Angelo for his advocacy. Fortunately, Michael Campbell continues to manage the website and gives his time voluntarily. I am very grateful for his assistance in maintaining the content, making it accessible and keeping the website safe. Michael has managed the website since 2014 and I thank him for his support – and his skills.

During 2021, a blog has been posted every two weeks. This year 12  blogs were written by guests. It is really wonderful that so many readers have either volunteered or accepted the invitation to write blogs.  And at times, people leave comments, and this shows that the website is becoming more interactive and a more lively community resource.

Through the year I’ve written  blogs about different subjects – stories of some of the families or relatives, reflections on the seasons and reports of unusual events on the  market gardens. I also used some of the research I had undertaken for my thesis and wrote about leisure activities of the market gardeners and returned Anglo Australian soldiers from World War I who were market gardeners in the area. And I have also written about some of the photos to highlight the lives of the Veneto families in different periods.

Linda and Clorinda Cescato and group of boarders, Waymouth Street, Adelaide, c 1952/53. Photo provided by Linda De Marchi nee Cescato.

Thank you to everyone who contributed blogs to the website this year. I’ve been looking back and realise there is a great richness in the variety of subjects that were covered by guest bloggers. In March Linda De Marchi nee Cescato and Nives Caon nee Cescato wrote about their memories of boarding houses in the west end of the City of Adelaide where Italian men lived when they first arrived in Australia. Alex Bennett researched the vagón of the Tonellato family in April and wrote two blogs.

Angelo and Gino Innocente and paesani making salami c 1970. Photo provided by Aida Innocente.

In May Aida Innocente, and her uncle and aunt, Gino and Mary Innocente, collaborated to write two blogs about about the steps involved in the ritual  of making salami.

Lynn and Gary Vanzo produced two blogs about the  story of the Vanzo family who originated from San Martino di Lupari and are connected to some of the Veneto market gardeners. In July, Michael Quirk who had lived in Garden Terrace, Lockleys, wrote two blogs about the friendships he made with some of the young Australian-born Italians who played football in 1959 for the Thebarton Young Christian Workers football team which won the 1959 Grand Final. Several of the young men were from market gardener families in the Lockleys area.

After I completed my PhD studies Michael Campbell wrote a blog in June about my thesis and how it developed from the 58 oral history interviews that have been gathered for the project since 2008.

Grease pole at Guelph Festival Italiano, 2016. Courtesy, Cathy Crenna.


In November the transnational connection was renewed with the blog that Cathy Crenna wrote about Italian migrants in Canada.



Finally, in December through the blog that Christine Rebellato nee Mattiazzo wrote, we learned about the Christmas traditions that originated in the Mattiazzo family.

Maria Rosa Tormena, launch of Veneto market gardeners’ website, May 2014. Courtesy, Michael Campbell.

One of the people who loved the Veneto market gardeners oral history project, Maria Rosa Tormena, died in March. I remember her and all the others who have been interviewed over the past 13 years. I value their contribution and generosity in providing information about their families and their connection to the pioneer Veneto market gardeners who arrived in Adelaide in the late 1920s.

And to 2022 … I invite you to consider writing a blog about your family or about memories of the Veneto market gardener community. Please contact me so we can discuss ideas.

I wish you all a happy new year. Buon anno!

Madeleine Regan
29 December 2021

Christmas thoughts – il presepio and more


Guest blogger, Christine Rebellato nee Mattiazzo, reflects on the Christmas traditions that were important in her family as she grew up. Christine focuses on the presepio or the crib that has great significance for her and her family. Christine has provided all the photos.


When it came to the emotional time of dividing the estate of our parents, Virginia Santin and Oscar Mattiazzo, our presepio (or presepe) was at the top of my list. That surprised me and I questioned my choice.

Our presepio natalizio was made in Italy. There are 14 hand-painted hollow statues made of plaster.  The tallest figure measures 30 cms. As seen in the photo, we have Mary, Joseph, baby Jesus, a manger, three shepherds, two sheep, three wise men, a cow and a donkey. The painting is detailed, bright and ornate with highlights of gold. The set may be, or is very similar to, a vintage Fontanini Nativity. The Fontanini company was formed in 1908 by Emanuele Fontanini in Bagni di Lucca , a small Tuscan village. The House of Fontanini is today run by his descendants.

Nonna Maria, Virginia, Helen, Christine, Oscar Mattiazzo, c 1978.

According to dad, Oscar, our nativity set was bought to be displayed in my parents’ shop, Croydon Park Provision Stores which they owned from 1949 to the early 1960s. The Nativity set was likely purchased from Pellegrini’s Christian Supplies in Adelaide. Later it was brought to our home and  displayed every Christmas in our fireplace at Croydon Park then at West Lakes Shore, until dad died in 2017. Now, my family sets it up in our fireplace. The presepio is creating new memories for the next generation of Mattiazzo great-grandchildren. A couple of years ago I found two mini toy cars in the manger with baby Jesus, a gift from our three-year-old grandson Oscar!

Nonno Angelo and Vicki Mattiazzo c 1972.

When we were young, our Mattiazzo nonni, Maria and Angelo, lived with us. The presepio reminds me of my Nonna Maria who shared this great love. She told us of making the presepio in Bigolino when she was young. She would add moss to the floor of the nativity scene.  In our primary school years at St Margaret Mary’s, we would have school crib competitions initiated by the parish priest, Fr Michael Murphy. Nonna would delight in our creations.

Making or displaying the presepio has been a long tradition in Italy. St Francis of Assisi is credited with creating the first live nativity scene in 1223, il presepio vivente. The presepio has been a symbol of Christmas for Italian families for perhaps as long as a thousand years. Some presepi include scenes from everyday life.

Christine and Helen – Christmas morning, late 1950s. The presepio is featured in the background on the left.

On Christmas Eve our parents worked at their shop til late. No matter how tired they were, they always made it special for us. The Eve was serene. My sisters, Helen and Vicki, and I rested, then our family went to Midnight Mass either at our local church, St Margaret Mary’s at Croydon or to the Chapel of the Calvary Hospital at North Adelaide. We went to Calvary for years, from my childhood until our own children were young. For many years Zia Anna and Zio Vito Santin would join us.

The Midnight Mass was intimate and beautiful, accompanied by the angelic voices of the nuns of The Little Company of Mary in their white habits and wide pale blue veils. Of course, the crib was prominent and in 1994 the priest asked to carry our young baby daughter, representing new life, to the altar. After Mass we would go home for coffee, a liqueur and Christmas cake. When we were children we were allowed to open one gift before bed.

Christmas celebrations: Mattiazzo, Santin, Compostella and Candiago families, early 1960s.

Helen, Vicki and I grew up with a strong sense of family. Our Christmas time centred around the sharing of a meal on Christmas Day, usually with our nonni who lived with us, dad’s zio Beniamino Buffon who was the brother of Oscar’s mother, and later Modesto Rossetto who was the son of Oscar’s zia Carmela Rossetto. The meal was delicious but simple. The first course was risotto al ragù o ai fegatini followed by roast chicken which was prized in the 1950s and 1960s. In later years chicken was replaced by turkey, pork and ham. Mum always prepared salads and cooked a variety of vegetables in olive oil with onion and tomato. Sometimes there was soft polenta.

Preparing a meal, early 1960s. L-R: Maria & Angelo Mattiazzo, Anna Santin, Rosina Santin, Virginia Mattiazzo, Angelina & Piero Compostella.

Christmas was usually a time for trifle in long parfait glasses then Christmas pudding, Christmas cake and later panettone. Mum and dad immigrated as young children in the mid 1930s in an era of poverty in Italy when there were few delicacies, so we didn’t have many sweets of Italian tradition passed down. However, mum was a great cook who shared recipes and successfully made a wide variety of dishes. Crostoli, custard-filled cornetti, fritole and croccante were made. Bought mandorlato (torrone) was also an annual favourite.

Gathering of cousins, Christmas, late 1960s. L-R: Helen Mattiazzo, Johnny Santin, Sandra Santin, Deni Conci, Diana Santin, Denise Santin, zio Romildo Santin, Vicki Mattiazzo, Alan Santin, Dean Santin.

When we were young, some Christmas meals were shared at home with many of our relatives. The days were noisy and filled with laughter. We loved listening to the stories of the older generations and being with our cousins. The women all helped out in the kitchen. I can still see mum stirring that huge pot of risotto!
The men would share a drink, reminisce and re-tell stories.

On the quieter Christmas Days when we were young, we would go to Lockleys later in the afternoon to visit the Santin families and mum Virginia’s parents Nonna Cea, Costantina Santin, and Nonno Giovanni. On some hot Christmas Days we even went to the beach.

These memories are special to me. They return when I look at our presepio in the fireplace. I guess that’s why the presepio was at the top of my list. It links me to our nonni, our parents, my sisters and their children, our zii and cousins, our children, and now our little grandchildren.

It’s a presepio and more!

Christine Rebellato nee Mattiazzo
12 December 2021