South West Migrant Memorial Group ready to launch sculpture

South West Migrant Memorial project manager Charlie Martella is excited for the launch of the memorial sculpture on Saturday November 24.
South West Migrant Memorial project manager Charlie Martella is excited for the launch of the memorial sculpture on Saturday November 24.

After nine years of preparation and hard work, the South West Migrant Memorial Group will be celebrating the launch of the memorial tree on Saturday.

The South West Migrant Memorial is a sculpture which features more than 500 names of non-english speaking migrants who arrived and settled in the South West.

There are 24 premium plaques which provide more detail of particular families who arrived in the South West and how they have grown and developed over 100 years.

Project manager Charlie Martella said he joined the committee because he thought about his parents who were migrants and how it would be great to honour them.

It soon became more than that when Mr Martella realised just how important this memorial was to the area when the stories came flooding in.

“We originally aimed for 300 people but that came in pretty quickly so we upped it to 500 and we have finished with 509,” he said.

“It shows respect in honouring people who were essentially forgotten about and it is also a historical reminder to people about our region’s history.”

A few stories that came to mind for Mr Martella included that of business owner Alex Garbelini’s great grandad who was a baker in Torano Italy around 120 years ago.

At that time, another local John Mazza’s great grandfather would buy bread from that bakery in Torano.

Now, 120 years later in Bunbury, Mr Mazza buys bread from Mr Garbelini on a regular basis.

Mr Martella said when most of the migrants were moving here there was a lot of hardship and when they arrived they had no rights and couldn’t speak English. However the families were able to prosper and still do.

Just one of the things Mr Martella is proud of with this project is how the committee has been self sufficient with no government or community funding.

The home of the memorial sculpture is the Queens’ Gardens in Bunbury and Mr Martella said there would be people travelling from Perth, Albany and Manjimup for the launch. People will also be able to buy a booklet on the day, which includes information on the committee members, the 24 premium plaque families as well as all the names featured in the memorial.

This story Memorial set to honour our migrants first appeared on Bunbury Mail.