The story of Halina Paczynski's arrival to Greta Migrant Camp and to her current home of Lambton began in Hitler's Germany, several years before she was born.
Ms Paczynski's father, Zygmunt, was a prisoner of war, captured with 140,000 Polish soldiers at the fall of Warsaw to Germany in 1939.
Ms Paczynski's mother, Alina, was German. She renounced her citizenship to marry Zygmunt, an "alien", at the end of World War II, rendering them both displaced persons.
Their relationship began in a butchery.
After working at a stone quarry, Zygmunt was assigned as a slave to the store.
"My mother was working there," Ms Paczynski, 73, said. "She wasn't allowed to talk to him but she did, and they formed a friendship. I was born in a displaced persons camp in Fulda."
Ms Paczynski was four years old when she arrived with her parents in Newcastle in 1950. Her family was taken by train to Greta Migrant Camp, a few kilometres out of the Hunter township.
"We got to our room and we couldn't go in because there were no beds," Ms Paczynski said. "So we had to wait for the trucks to come from Singleton with camp beds.
"During the night my father's bed collapsed."
This Saturday and Sunday a festival is being held on the grounds of the former settlement to mark the 80th anniversary since an army camp was founded on the site, and 70 years since its transformation into a holding area for migrants. It was home to more than 100,000 people fleeing post-war Europe between 1949 and 1960.
Men were contracted to work for two years upon arrival, during which families paid rent to stay at the camp. Many families made do with its spartan facilities until they could afford a house of their own.
Both Ms Paczynski and Janina Sulikowski of Belmont North, who arrived at Greta as a three-year-old, remember the camp with fondness.
"I remember roaming all of these fields," Ms Sulikowski said. "All the children played together, we had a mixture of all sorts of nationalities. We were very happy."
However, both their parents endured hardships.
Ms Sulikowski's mother and father, Karolina and Marian, had met in a displaced persons camp after they were taken from Poland as teenagers to work as forced laborers in Germany.
When they arrived in Sydney in 1949 the family was separated for six weeks. Marian was taken to a hostel in Mayfield West to work at the BHP, while Ms Sulikowski, who had Scarlet Fever, was kept in quarantine with her mother in Parkes.
Ms Paczynski's parents lost their second child at the camp. Alina spent two days in labour at the camp's hospital without a midwife. The baby girl died at Maitland Hospital two hours after birth. Ms Paczynski said her family did not know where she was buried until 1991.
"I went looking for her to give my mother closure," Ms Paczynski said. "To me, my mother was an amazing woman."
Ms Paczynski's father went on to establish the Polish Association in Newcastle.
After learning English at the camp's school, Ms Sulikowski became an English teacher, then deputy principal at Toronto High and education director in Port Macquarie.
A new arrival in Newcastle, Annette Gebhardt, is rediscovering her connection with Greta, where her late father, John Gebhardt, arrived in 1949, at the age of two.
Ms Gebhardt, 43, was born in Newcastle but grew up in Wollongong, and was living in England where she ran a human resources and management consultancy, working for the Duchy of Cornwall. Her father, of Polish heritage, returned to Newcastle and became the president of the Ethnic Communities Council representing the region, which later became Hunter Multicultural Communities [HMC].
Ms Gebhardt returned to her city of birth two years ago, after her father's passing in 2011, to take up the role of chief executive officer of HMC, the organisation co-hosting this weekend's celebrations at Greta.
"It feels like I have done a 360 loop, and ended up where my family's story started," Ms Gebhardt said. "This anniversary has given me a greater appreciation of what my family went through and how Newcastle flourished with migration and continues to do so."
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