Looking back to 2023 – and forward to 2024


This blog marks the shift from 2023 to 2024. It’s time to reflect on the year that has been and in particular, for subscribers to the Veneto market gardeners’ blog.

The image above is the tea towel designed to show the families who had market gardens in the 1940s and 1950s in the area the Veneto market gardeners called Lockleys. Bob Window was the designer.

Thanks to…
– the Veneto Club in Adelaide which subsidises the costs of the website. The financial assistance is greatly appreciated.

– Michael Campbell for his work in managing the website and taking care of all the background work. Michael attends to all the security issues that enable the smooth running of the whole website.

– all the subscribers to the blog. It is great to know that people enjoy reading the blogs and that some are interested to make contact through the comments facility.

Thanks to the people who wrote blogs in 2023:

  • Linda Zamperin, the Tonellato family and the baccala tradition at Easter, 26th March
  • Angelo Piovesan – the Piovesan family migration story, 21 May and 4th June
  • Vivian Miotto for the Miotto family story, 2nd July
  • Remo Berno – “Parties in the Veneto community of Lockleys,” 30 July, “Pio X and migration,” 24th September, “Ritornero’ = I will Return, Pio X pilgrimage,” 22nd October
  • Paola Squires, Family history, 27 August
  • Diana Panazzolo – “A family tradition – making crostoli,” 10 September.

It is very significant for people to record their family stories and the changes that take place over the years. The stories help us to understand the complexity of migration and each family’s experience adds to the wider history of multicultural Australia.

Thank you to people who have given permission to use their family photos when they have been interviewed. It is wonderful to have such a large number of photos that tell the stories of families and their experience of the market gardens and/or their lives in Australia.

Group of Veneto market gardener families and friends, Lockleys, mid 1950s. Photo supplied by Terry Mazzarolo nee Zampin.

A continuing thank you to all those people who have generously agreed to be interviewed for the Veneto market gardeners’ oral history project since 2008. There are now 65 interviews in the collection held by the State Library of South Australia and that are also published on the family pages on this website.

Farewells to people who were interviewed for the project
In this past year, a number of people who were interviewed for the Veneto market gardeners’ oral history project have died. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to spend time with them and to have recorded interviews.

I‘d like to acknowledge the interviewees who have died during the past year:

*Guido Rebuli died on 25 December 2022, aged 84 years

* Barrie West died on 5 March 2023, aged 85 years

*Ermenegilda Simeoni died on 24th July 2023, aged 91 years

*Johnny Marchioro – died on 15 September 2023, aged 83 years

*Lena Moscheni nee Rossetto – died on 7 October 2023, aged 90 years

*Anna Maria Lucchesi – died on 17 November 2023, aged 94 years.

Three eulogies will be included in the next blog on 14th January.

Additions to the website
A number of recordings of interviews have been added to the website this year and some transcripts. You can listen tot he interviews and read the transcripts that have been published. You’ll find the recordings of interviews on the website:

  • Louis Ballestrin – see Ballestrin family page
  • Silvano Ballestrin – see Ballestrin family page
  • Leon Bernardi – see Rossetto family page
  • Anna Maria Lucchesi – see Rossetto family page
  • Terry Mazzarolo – see Zampin page under the ‘Relatives’ button.
  • Angelo Piovesan – see Piovesan family page

And in 2024…

The blog will continue to be posted every fortnight. If you are interested in contributing a story about your family or the experience that is of interest to Veneti who read the blogs, please contact me to arrange a date. I am very happy to assist people to prepare blogs and welcome more contributors and more variety of subjects.

The exhibition, ‘Cornucopia: Gardens and Gardening in South Australia’ will continue to be displayed in the

Bookmark designed by the State Library of SA to advertise the Cornucopia exhibition. The photo of Johnny Marchioro was taken in 1962 when he worked with his parents at Lockleys.

State Library for the first few months of the year. It is a beautiful display of photos and stories about gardens and gardeners from First Nations customs to the practices of  today in both flower and  productive contexts. Johnny Marchioro is featured in the exhbition with family photos, the record books that he donated to the Library and an excerpt from his oral history interview. There is also a QR code link to the Veneto market gardeners’ website.



On Tuesday 20 February I will be giving a presentation at the State Library about the Veneto market gardeners’ project and the book that will be published later in the year. The talk will be at 12:00 pm. I hope that many of you who have been involved in the project might be able to attend the presentation.

Interviews in the State Library of South Australia
All the oral history interviews recorded for the Veneto market gardeners’ project are now included in the Library’s digital collections website. You’ll see that there are photos of many of the people. Other photos will be added in 2024.

You can listen to any of the 65 interviews – just scroll down the list and move to the next page of interviews using the arrow at the bottom right of the page. The interviews are presented in the order that they were recorded from 2008 to 2023.

Click here to access the oral history interviews in the State Library

Best wishes for the new year and for all that will unfold for you and your family in 2024!

Buon anno!


Madeleine Regan
31 December 2023


Christmas 2023

We are in the season of Christmas and it’s a time to reflect on the meaning of this annual celebration.

The presepio or nativity scene in the image above was created by the local council in Spello, Italy, December 2017. Alex Bennett took the photo.

Many of us will remember Christmas family customs and rituals from our childhood. Some of these were brought to Australia from the first generation of the Veneto market gardeners and other groups of migrants.

Nativity crib – belonging to Michael Campbell’s family brought from Scotland, 1963. Photo by Michael.

Some people have created Christmas traditions that grandchildren and great-grandchildren enjoy now. In this blog, you’ll read entries from past years that bring Christmas alive through memory, food and the creation of presepe or nativity scenes.

The presepe are usually displayed in Italian homes and churches from 8th December, the feast of the Immaculate Conception, to 6th January, the feast of the Epiphany, when the wise men were usually added to the scene. Presepe are often displayed in piazzas, shops and other public areas. The figures can vary in scale from miniature to life size and in many families, preparations for the presepio begin a long time before it is displayed. In some villages, the local council holds competitions for the best presepio.

Irene Zampin who lives in Caselle di Altivole designs and creates her presepio each year and spends a lot of time planning and organising the scene for the nativity story, and usually begins her plans in October. Irene makes the various elements of the nativity scene – painstaking artistic work. It has become an important tradition for her family.

You can view the short video below that features the presepio Irene created last year.

Memories of creating a presepio in Bigolino

Tormena family:
Back: Johnny and Maria Rosa
Front: Severina and Galliano
Adelaide, mid 1940s. Photo supplied by Maria Rosa.

Johnny Tormena, who was born in 1927, in Bigolino remembers the excitement of preparing the presepio as a child. He collected small amounts of money from selling clean bones to the rag and bone man in the village and used the proceed to buy figures during the year. Small shops in Bigolino sold the little statues and he started with just three: Mary, Joseph and the baby Jesus. Johnny set up the presepio in a corner of the kitchen and collected moss in the fields to make it look like grass and he used stalks of hay in the manger and made paths with fine gravel. During the year, he asked family members to save shoeboxes which he cut up to make houses and castles and he found coloured paper and into the shapes he created, he placed candles that illuminated the colours. It was a considerable project for a young boy to create the presepio.

When the Tormena family migrated to Australia in 1939, the figurines were included in the luggage and Johnny constructed the presepio for many years in Adelaide.

Family food traditions
Christine Rebellato nee Mattiazzo recalled family food traditions in her family:

Many Veneto families in Australia cook Baccalà at other times of the year, some on Good Friday or Christmas Eve or Christmas Day or other special occasions. Our family only ate the traditional Polenta e Baccalà on Easter Sunday.

There was one exception, Christmas 1990, a month before our mother Virginia died.

Christmas celebrations: Mattiazzo, Santin, Compostella and Candiago families, early 1960s. Photo supplied by Christine Rebellato nee Mattiazzo.

For that particular Christmas it was mum’s wish to cook up a feast, all under her direction. Mum wanted to have many traditional dishes, including Polenta e Baccalà. Mum directed and dictated the recipes to dad, and we cooked. We still have that special little notebook.

“Nonna Virginia’s Baccalà” recipe has been slightly modified over the 30 years we have been cooking it, without mum since 1991 and with dad until 2017.  Mum’s recipe seems to be loosely based on Baccalà alla Vicentina.

Christine Rebellato nee Mattiazzo,12  December 2021

Christmas memories – from oral history interviews

Oscar Mattiazzo, Lina Campagnaro nee Ballestrin and Milva Rebuli nee Zampin spoke about childhood memories of Christmas in their oral history interviews

Oscar Mattiazzo, 90th birthday party., December 2013. Photo supplied by Christine Rebellato nee Mattiazzo.


Oscar Mattiazzo, 13th April 2011
The only times that I remember something is when a friend of my father, who was my santalo, and he gave me a, well some, some, it’s like a cake, a round cake, you hang it around your neck or something – I can’t remember what they called it – and I thought I was king.



Lina Campagnaro, 13th March 2014

Ballestrin family: Narciso, LIna, Maria, Jimmy. Front: Silvano, Norina. Flinders Park, c 1959.
Photo supplied by Lina Campagnaro nee Ballestrin.

I remember most vividly … the Christmas tree because we had a big — pine tree out the front on Valetta Road and Dad would go and yeah, cut off a branch and Mum would or Dad would put it in a bucket full of sand and Mum would dress it up either with material … and then because there were not a lot of decorations, she would put up some balloons … it was always made out of either balloons and lollies and the most important thing were cherries when you could find them then, those double-stemmed cherries where you can just hang [on your ears]. And that was just a tradition my Mum had, and I carry on with now.

Milva Rebuli nee Zampin, 27 March 2016
We always had a nice Christmas …  had our Christmas lunch … but it was all Italian, it wasn’t Australian, no roast turkey, it was always something special, Italian style.

Zampin family, Adelaide, c 1954.
Peter is held by his father. Photo supplied by the Zampin family.

The generosity of market gardeners at Christmas

Angelo Innocente – making wine, Lockleys, March 2011. Photo by Madeleine Regan.

Aida Innocente’s parents had a half-case factory in Lockleys where they manufactured pine boxes that market gardeners used to sell their tomatoes and celery at market. In her blog in 2020, Aida recalled her father’s interactions with his clients at Christmas time.


My Dad had clients from all over Italy and other parts of Europe. As a child I remember these clients – Calabrians, Neapolitans, Bulgarians, Slavs, Greeks – dropping in to our home before Christmas to settle their accounts. Dad always made sure he had plenty of beer on hand. His clients brought fresh produce as gifts. I now look upon these Christmas visits as a great symbol of the meaning of Christmas – peace and harmony to people of all lands and faiths.

Aida Innocente – 3 May 2020

In a time marked by wars and unrest in the world, I am sure we all hope for peace and resolution. I wish you all a happy festive season with opportunities to spend time with your loved ones and make connections with relatives overseas.

Buon natale.

Madeleine Regan
16 December 2023

Italians in Australia


This blog provides a small insight into Italian migration to Australia. It follows the previous post on Italians in Griffith, New South Australia. Photos of books about Italians in Australia are features. (Click  to enlarge them)

Italian people first migrated to Australia in the mid 1800s. They were usually from poor rural areas and the difficult economic conditions in Italy motivated people to migrate to other European countries, United States, South America and Australia. It is estimated that between the 1870s and 1900, about 300,000 Italians left their homes each year to migrate to other countries.

Some early census statistics
– there were were fewer than 2,000 people who were born in Italy living in Australia. In South Australia, there were 141 Italians – 133 men and and 8 women. Towards the end of the century, small groups settled in Port Pirie and Port Adelaide from Molfetta in the region of Puglia and worked as fishers.

1921 – just over 8,000 Italians were living in Australia and 344 were in South Australia.

Between 1926 and 1928, the Veneto market gardeners arrived at a time when the numbers of Italian migrants in Australia increased greatly because the United States of America had imposed a strict quota and although Australia was much further away, it was an option for people who were seeking a life with more opportunities for work and a more hopeful future.

Italian migrants waiting to disembark from the ‘Osterley’, Adelaide, 1927. Photo from “Per l’Australia: The Story of Italian Migration” 2005 by Julia Church.

1933 – the number of Italians had grown to more than 26,500. In South Australia, there were nearly 1,500. Men outnumbered women 3:1.

Italians who lived in South Australia in these years came mainly from five regions: Calabria, Campania, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Puglia and the Veneto. At first, the majority of the migrants lived in the west-end of the City of Adelaide.

Des O’Connor’s book  is the most significant history of the migration and settlement of Italians in South Australia up to World War II.

Post-war migration of Italian people
The Australian Government developed immigration policies after World War II with programs like the ‘Populate or Perish’ initiative and the Displaced Persons Scheme. This opened the way for large numbers of Italian people to migrate to Australia.

Between 1945 and 1972, it is estimated that about 374,00 Italians migrated to Australia. Approximately 30,000 arrived in South Australia. Many arrived through the assisted passage program which required the migrant to undertake a two-year employment contract usually in unskilled areas. The 1950s were the peak period for the arrival of Italian migrants.

Changes in the numbers of Italian-born people in Australia
In 1981 the total population of Australia was nearly 15 million. In that year just over 285,000 people were born in Italy. The numbers of Italian-born people in Australia has decreased from the 1980s. In the five years 1981 to 1986, there was a decline of over 5.1%. The median age (the age at which half is older and half is younger) of Italians has also decreased.

In 2000, when the population of Australia was a little over 19 million there were 242, 000 Italian-born people.

In 2012, Italian-born people were the ninth largest group of overseas-born people in Australia and made up 0.9 of the total population. The total population was 22.7 million.

Australian states and capital cities and main cities.https://www.mapsofindia.com/world-map/australia/

Italians in South Australia
In the 2021 census
, 16,653 people recorded Italy as their country of birth. The largest group (78.2%) were over 65 years.

Most of the Italian-born people or 92% live in the Adelaide metropolitan area. The largest groups live in the north-eastern side of the city in Payneham, Campbelltown, Hectorville and Newton. There are also groups who live in the western suburbs concentrated mainly in the Fulham Gardens and Lockleys areas.

Some communities have written and published their histories.  These histories tell the stories of migration of individual families and the development of the communities in South Australia over time from last century.

Antonio Mercurio and Angela Scarino published this book in 2004 about people who migrated to South Australia from San Giorgio la Molara in the province of Benevento in the region of Campania from 1927.
Don Longo edited this book about the community who migrated from Molinara to South Australia 1927-2007. Molinara is int he province of Benevento, region of Campania.










Italian people have strong connections to their villages, provinces and regions of origin. Clubs and associations were established in the 1970s when Australia had adopted multicultural policies although the first one, the Fogolar Furlan Adelaide commenced operating in 1958.


The clubs were established around Australia created atmospheres that were familiar and provided opportunities to meet paesani, speak dialect and enjoy typical food and cultural activities. Today, the clubs do not attract the numbers of people because the second and third generation Italian Australians do not have the same needs as their parents and grandparents who wanted the familiarity of a close community in Australia.







In the 2021 census the population of Australia was approximately 25.5 million. Over 1 million people claimed Italian ancestry or about 4.4% of the population. The impact of Italian culture is very evident – you only have to look at the number of Italian restaurants and gelati shops!


Madeleine Regan
3 December 2023

Photos by Madeleine.


Australian Bureau of Statistics


Collins World Atlas

O’Connor, Desmond, No Need to be Afraid: Italian Settlers in South Australia between 1839 and the Second World War, Wakefield Press, 1996.

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