By Janneke Hall

Our family of 5 arrived in Sydney in December 1950 on the Sibayak. We came from a little village in North Holland Brabant called Werkendam. I was 5 years old. We went to Bathurst migrant camp but we’re only there for a few weeks. Orbost then Oakleigh VIC were our next short stays. Then Ferny Creek after which we ended up in Belgrave in the Dandenongs where mum stayed until her death in 2004. Sadly my father Otto Ippel, died after only 3 years in Australia.

I have been determined to ensure the following generations will be aware of their Dutch roots. I am also want them to be aware of the family’s migration experience. I have written several small books based on what I remember and what I have been told by my family. It is always sad to realise too late that my mother could have added so much more to the story if only I’d asked her more questions.
What I’m wondering is if anyone else is attempting to create written legacies for their family, recording their own immigration story? I’ve plundered family photograph albums to use the images which tell stories in themselves. I’ve also used National Archives if Australia and the Immigration Museum in Melbourne and anything online I can find.

The MS Sibayak

The MS Sibajak – named after Mount Sibayak.- built at the Koninklijke Maatschappij “De Schelde” in Vlissingen and transferred in 1928 to the then Rotterdamsche Lloyd.  

Brief historic overview:

  • 1927 Named: SIBAJAK for Rotterdamsche Lloyd Flag: Netherlands -Call sign: PHMD.
  • 08.02.1928 Maiden voyage from Rotterdam to Batavia.
  • 1935 Modernised and rebuilt to 12.226 brt at Rotterdamsche Droogdok Mij Rotterdam.
  • 1940 Re-registered in Willemstad, Curacao and converted to a troop ship under the management of P&O Lines Flag: Netherlands Antilles.
  • 10.1941 Chartered by British Ministry of War as troopship.
  • 14.04.1941 Rebuilt as troopship for 2300 man in Singapore.
  • 05.03.1946 Arrived in Amsterdam and in service for the owners again.
  • 1946-1951 Chartered by Dutch government as troopship, shipping troops to the Netherlands Indies.
  • 1951 Rebuilt to emigrant ship for 950 passengers at Rotterdamsche Droogdok Mij Rotterdam.
  • 1953 Rebuilt to 12.342 grt.
  • 1959 Sold for scrap.
  • 25.08.1959 Arriving in Hongkong to be scrapped.

Other stories and sources:

Personal story of Reuben Goossens about his trip on the Sibajak

My 1951 Sea Voyage – Elisabeth Anderson

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