New items and an invitation

The beginning of September – spring in Australia …

A short blog this time to let you know about two new features on the website under the Resources button: video stories and eulogies.


Two videos recorded with Oscar Mattiazzo

Oscar, 90th birthday, 2013

In the first video Oscar speaks about his family and his arrival as an 11-year old in 1934 with his mother. His father had migrated in 1927. (11:14 minutes) Click here to view videos

Oscar recalls, in the second video, how he first came to visit the Lockleys market garden area, the Veneto families who lived there and the development of the area over many years. (9:45 minutes) Click here to view videos

Video recorded with Assunta Giovannini nee Tonellato Click here to view video

Assunta, Adelaide, 2012

Assunta speaks about her mother and being raised in the Tonellato family by her aunt and uncle. She also gives information about the various market gardener families. (9:36 minutes)


Eleonora Marchioro nee Ottanelli Click here to view video
Eleonora reads the translation of a letter written by her father-in-law, Vittorio Marchioro who married Angelina Marchioro by proxy in

Vittorio & Angelina Marchioro, Romano & Mirjana, Eleonora & Johnny, 1964

1937. In the letter Vittorio gives his wife advice before she leaves Italy. (1:16 minutes)




Five eulogies have been added to the website – a suggestion made by Aida Innocente. The eulogies are a valuable way to understand the lives of veneti who have been part of the community in Adelaide.

  1. Oscar Mattiazzo who died in September 2017 Click here to read eulogy
  2. Angelo Innocente who died in February 2012 – also in Italian Click here to read eulogies
  3. Elsa Innocente who died in January 2017 – Click here to read eulogiesAngelo & Elsa Innocente, 2011
  4. Enrico (Richetto) Rebuli who died in June 2020 – Click here to read eulogy
  5. Maria (Eti) Rebuli who died in July 2020 – Click here to read eulogy
Richetto & Eti Rebuli, February 2019





Invitation – thinking of writing a blog?

Over the past months it has been great to have so many guest bloggers contribute their family stories to the website. We learn so much from the accounts of individuals and how they started their lives as migrants in Adelaide. I love the family photos which always give an insight into how people lived.

If you would like to write about your family history, please contact me to talk about your ideas and to arrange a date for a blog. I am particularly interested in stories about how families celebrated Christmas and/or New Year.

Thank you …
Thank you to everyone who has contributed to the website in recent months. Thanks to Michael Campbell, website administrator, who continues to work behind the scenes and makes everything work well. Thank you to Graziella Ledda for assistance with Italian translations – and Irene Zampin in Caselle di Altivole for occasional translations.

Madeleine Regan
6 September 2020

Nuovi fatti e un invito …

Il principio di settembre  … è primavera qui in Adelaide …

Un breve blog questa volta per farvi sapere che ci sono due nuovi fatti sul sito sotto “Resources” bottone storie video e elogii.

Ci sono quattro storie di orticoltori veneti registrate separatamente con tre intervistati.


Due video registrati con Oscar Mattiazzo

Oscar, Adelaide 2013

Nel primo video Oscar parla della sua famiglia e del suo arrrivo in Australia con la sua madre nel 1934 quando aveva 11 anni. Il padre emigrò nel 1927. (11:14 minuti) [Clicca qui]

Oscar ricorda nel secondo video come per la prima volta andò a Frogmore Road e incontrò le famiglie venete che abitavano là. Parla anche dello sviluppo della zona per tanti anni. (9:45 minuti) [Clicca qui]

Video registrato con Assunta Tonellato in Giovannini

Assunta, Adelaide 2012

Assunta parla di sua madre chi è morta dandola luce. Assunta ricorda crescendo nella famiglia Tonellato con i suoi zii e i loro cinque figli – ed anche gli orticoltori della zona a Frogmore Road. (9:36 minuti)[Clicca qui]

Eleonora Ottanelli in Marchioro

Vittorio, Angelina, Marchioro, Romano, Mirjana, Eleonora, Johnny, c 1964

Eleonora legge la traduzione di una lettera scritta dal suocero, Vittorio Marchioro. Lui si sposò con Angelina Marchioro per procura nel 1937. Nella lettera Vittorio da consigli a sua moglie prima di partire per l’Australia. (1:16 minuti) [Clicca qui]


Cinque elogii scritti in inglese sono stati aggiunti al sito – un consiglio dato da Aida Innocente. Gli elogii sono una via preciosa per capire le vite dei veneti che fanno parte della comunità di orticoltori in Adelaide.

  1. Oscar Mattiazzo che è morto nel settembre 2017.  [Clicca qui]
  2. Angelo Innocente che è morto nel febbraio 2012 – in italiano. [Clicca qui]
  3. Elsa Innocente che è morta nel gennaio 2017. [Clicca qui]Angelo & Elsa Innocente, 2011
  4. Enrico (Richetto) Rebuli che è morto nel giugno 2020. [Clicca qui]
  5. Maria (Eti) Rebuli che è morta nel luglio 2020. [Clicca qui]
Richetto & Eti Rebuli, February 2019





Per favore fatemi sapere se volete aggiungere un elogio per un membro della vostra famiglia.

Invitazione! Pensate di scrivere un blog?
In questi mesi passati è stato un piacere avere molti ospiti bloggers che hanno contribuito con la storia della loro famiglia. Abbiamo imparato molto su questi individui e come hanno incominciato la loro vita di immigranti. Le foto delle famiglie ci danno uno sguardo sulla loro vita privata.

Se potete scrivere e raccontare la storia della vostra famiglia, per favore contattemi per discutere i dettagli. Sono particolarmente interessata nelle storie che descrivono come hanno trascorso il natale e capo d’anno.

Grazie …
Grazie a tutti quelli che hanno contribuito nei mesi recenti. Grazie a Michael Campbell che fa l’amministratore e continua a lavorare duro e tutto quello che fa è ben fatto. Grazie anche a Graziella Ledda per l’assistenza con la traduzione italiano – e Irene Zampin in Caselle di Altivole per qualche volta per la sua traduzione.

Madeleine Regan
il 6 settembre 2020

Parties and festivals

This is the second part of guest, Silvano Ballestrin’s blog. He recalls the festivals that were part of the life of the Veneto market gardener community and the memorable Cucagna held at Saint Joseph’s Church at Flinders Park in 1952.

There were many feste (parties or festivals) held at the Catholic Church on Captain Cook Ave. One particular festa was La Cucagna, where men, dressed in old clothes, organised themselves in teams and mounted a horse-drawn dray decorated with streamers, balloons and other colourful ornaments. There were 3 teams. (1) River Road team. (2) Frogmore Road team. (3) Campbelltown team, also veneti. The carts were a sight to behold. The River Road men gathered at Doro’s old house, hopped on the dray and picked up others as they drove to church. Frankie played the accordion and everyone was singing. Bruno Piovesan played the accordion for Frogmore Road. The Campbelltown team came in clean clothes but changed into work clothes at the venue.

Bruno Piovesan and Gino Piovesan c 1948-49*

Three tall, round, wooden poles, approximately 8-10 metres high were planted on the church grounds; on top of them were various prizes such as bottles of wine, a plucked chicken or some other edible delicacies. To get the prizes the men had to climb their pole and retrieve the reward. The problem: the poles were smooth and completely coated with clear industrial grease, making them virtually impossible to climb. Howls of laughter were heard as men tried to climb and then slid back down the poles. Ultimately the solution was for the strongest man to stand at the foot of the pole hugging it while the next one climbed onto his shoulders and so on until the lightest one reached the top. It was tough going.

Women and children were totally absorbed in watching the event. Once the climb was complete, everyone socialised and mingled over shared food and beverages provided by themselves, with the children running around the yard playing simple games.

Veneta women, Frogmore Road, c 1946

The church-going veneti interacted well with the Anglo Australian clergy who were happy for this unique event to take place. The veneti formed a significant part of the congregation they were industrious and eager to become citizens of this great country. Some of those priests even learnt Italian.

The Cucagna with the decorated floats in procession was a never to be forgotten, one-off event held at Captain Cook Avenue, Flinders Park. In later years, the Cucagna was held at Mater Christi, Seaton.

While having painted a picture of continual get togethers, Fiò and lots of fun times, we all worked very hard, as did all the Italian families living in the Findon, Flinders Park, Kidman Park and Lockleys areas. Every man, woman and child laboured to help their families.


Veneto paesani, St Kilda c 1950

When writing to Madeleine some time ago it was mentioned the Italians did not have a great need to learn English as they mixed and socialised among themselves helping each other out, as in a community. She expressed it best by saying it was like living in a  paese (village).

This paese in the western suburbs was, and is, alive and well and the Fiòs promulgated these events.  In a way the various feste showed how much the Australian version of the Fiò informally helped them to bond and form a new paese, comfortably surrounded by friends and relatives. Only a few returned permanently to Italy.

Farewell to Narcisio, Maria; Norina Ballestrin on their trip to Italy, Outer Harbour – view from boat: April 1965

Silvano Ballestrin
12 July 2020





With help from Egidio Ballestrin (brother), Frank Ballestrin (cousin), Lina Campagnaro nee Ballestrin (sister), Norina Savio nee Ballestrin (sister), Isabella Ballestrin (granddaughter) , Kelli Ballestrin (daughter), Dolfina Leonardi nee Ballestrin (cousin), Noemi Campagnolo nee Zalunardo (cousin), Severino Dotto (cousin in Italy), Madeleine Regan, Christine Rebellato (nee Mattiazzo), Angelo Ballestrin (cousin), Angelo Piovesan (friend), Aurora Ballestrin (my wife for being so patient).

*Thanks to Angelo Piovesan and his contacts, we can now confirm the identity of Gino Piovesan who is in the photo with Bruno Piovesan.

Non è stato possibile tradurre il blog in italiano.


Narciso Ballestrin and Maria Dotto family

This guest blog, written by Silvano Ballestrin, provides an overview of the Ballestrin family and their settlement in Adelaide from 1927 when brothers, Antonio and Isidoro, arrived with their cousin, Giuseppe. Silvano also recalls the custom of filò. The next blog will be part 2 of the Ballestrin family story.

Our father, Narcisio Vittorio Ballestrin, was born on 30 July 1913 in Vallà, Provincia Treviso, Italy. Our mother, Maria Maddalena Dotto, on 10 Jun 1914 in Salvarosa, Provincia Treviso. Both Narcisio, (pronounced as Narciso) and Maria spent only 3 and 5 years respectively at primary school. Neither had any formal schooling beyond that.

Santa Agata Guidolin and Francesco Ballestrin, parents of Isidoro, Antonio, Ermenegildo, Narcisio, Luigia

In Italy, Dad worked mainly on the family farm until he went to work in France for 4-5 weeks at age 18. He came back to the farm until he was 21, before he served in the military for about 33 months. Towards the end of his tenure he got sick and had to convalesce for 4 months in hospital. After being discharged from the army he went back to work at home for about 18 months. During this time he said “Andavo a fiò” which means “I would go visiting” and this is how he met and courted Maria Dotto, our mother.

Sante Dotto and Lucia Tessaro, parents of Maria Maddalena Dotto

Fiò is the Veneto pronunciation of the word filò. The word filò originally meant to go visiting a family either as an individual or as a family after dinner and gather around animals for warmth in the stables of farmhouses. This helped to save wood for cooking and heating water for washing clothes. The word probably derives from the Latin, filatum, which is the activity of spinning of wool that the women undertook to pass the time. The men often repaired farming implements, furniture or made wooden toys for the children. Filò is the library or talking books of the illiterate peasants who handed down their culture through the spoken word. A tradition that’s gradually diminished over time.

Mum and Dad were married in 1938 and he left for Australia soon after the wedding. His older brother Isidoro (Doro) sponsored him. From time to time Narciso mentioned that when his brothers Doro and Antonio (Toni) and cousin Giuseppe (Bepi) decided to leave Italy, they originally sought to migrate to America but there was something not quite right with one of Doro’s eyes, which was true. His migration visa was subsequently rejected and so they sailed for Australia instead.  A blessing in disguise for the Ballestrins.

Norina Ballestrin’s First Communion, c 1960

Of the Ballestrin clan from Vallà, Doro, a friendly and generous man, was a major influence in the Lockleys Findon area. He spoke English fluently and often translated for his brothers or their families. According to his son Frank, he spent some time in the bush among Australians and so he learnt English relatively quickly. Toni was very generous but seemed to be a bit grumpy. Gildo (Ermenegildo) was a gentle kind man. Yiyetta (Luigia) was lovely. Tohn (Giuseppe or Bepi) was a fairly quiet man. Our father Narcisio can best be described as cheeky and irreverent which is how he described his own father Checco (Francesco). All of the Ballestrins had a strong work ethic which they passed on to their children. Most of us can still remember how to tie that double knot one handed on the glasshouse wires.

We would often go to Fiò and visit all of our relatives and friends and they visited us as well. Once or twice a week, usually after dinner, we heard our parents talking to each other, saying something like: “Andemmo a fiò? (Shall we go visiting?) Va ben, andove demo? (All right. Where shall we go?) A ben, andemmo da Yiyo Toneato. (Oh well, let’s go to Luigi Tonellato).” We wouldn’t take cakes, biscuits or wine but always dressed in neat clean clothes. The hosts always provided coffee and biscuits, sometimes wine as well. The unwritten rule for we children was never to ask or take a biscuit or pieces of cake off the table unless it was first offered to us. While the parents chatted away, we children played. We visited all of our relatives regularly as they all conveniently lived within a 3-4 km radius. If the intended family wasn’t home then we went to another family nearby.

Egidio (Jim) and Maria Ballestrin, c 1939

Jim recalled the family walked from our Valetta Rd home to friends and relatives’ places after dinner during the evening fiò. For example, from Valetta Road our family walked 2.5kms to the Marchioro’s at the end of White Ave, stay for 2-3 hours and walk back again later that night. A 5km all round walk. Having spoken to a few of our cousins, they all knew what the word fiò meant. We remembered visiting all of our uncles, aunties, and other relatives on a regular basis. Plus families Dotto, Piovesan, Tonellato, Santin, Candiotto, Innocente, De Marchi, Compostella, Pietrobon, Possamai, Martini, Berno, Lamberti, Recchi, and many others. There were friends from the Veneto, Trieste, Napoli, and other regions of Italy. Our parents were very sociable.

Ballestrin family 1983. Back: Silvano, Norina, Egidio Front: Lina, Narciso, Maria





Silvano Ballestrin
28 June 2020

With help from Egidio Ballestrin (brother), Frank Ballestrin (cousin), Lina Campagnaro nee Ballestrin (sister), Norina Savio nee Ballestrin (sister), Isabella Ballestrin (granddaughter) , Kelli Ballestrin (daughter), Dolfina Leonardi nee Ballestrin (cousin), Severino Dotto (cousin in Italy), Madeleine Regan, Christine Rebellato nee Mattiazzo,  Angelo Ballestrin (cousin), Angelo Piovesan (friend), Aurora Ballestrin nee Stella (my wife for being so patient).

Questa volta non è stato possibile tradurre il blog in italiano.