Migration Memories
Lightning Ridge perspectives


Dusan Malinovic: A first generation perspective



From Yugoslavia 1964 to Lighting Ridge 1973

In the Lightning Ridge exhibition, Dusan’s story is the one that fits into a recent and critical period of Lightning Ridge migration history. It’s a familiar and in some ways typical story of managing to escape from a country with a repressive Soviet-backed communist government and then coming to Australia for work. The focus in shaping the story was to show this familiar story in a way that would highlight it as something experienced by a particular individual rather than a large anonymous group. 

photo of Dusan and Iona   image of exhibition
Dusan Malinovic with Lightning Ridge exhibition designer, Iona Walsh.  Photograph: Jenni Brammall, 2006.   Dusan's display at Lightning Ridge.
Photograph: Ursula Frederick, 2006.


Mapping the personal, the local and historical

The exhibition used maps, text and an image of a typical Australian Government immigration poster to set the scene of Dusan’s migration to Australia from the former Yugoslavia.


  photo and text

Details from Dusan Malinovic, panel two, Migration Memories: Lightning Ridge. Design: Iona Walsh.


The local

It was opal that took Dusan to Lightning Ridge. He had started mining opal with Yugoslav friends while working in the mining and construction industry, and over the years had tried a number of fields. He found himself in Lightning Ridge by chance and has lived there ever since.

map and opals   text
Details from Dusan Malinovic, panel four, Migration Memories: Lightning Ridge. Design: Iona Walsh.


The personal in historical context

Dusan’s migration experience highlights the connection between Australia’s assisted immigration program of the post-war decades and Australia’s really big construction schemes of these years. The labour of new migrants was essential for Australia’s industrial development. Dusan’s work took him from the Snowy hydro-electric scheme to iron ore mining in Western Australia. Images from national and state archives helped show the scale of these activities – and the value of labour provided by people like Dusan. The text with the images shows what it felt like from Dusan’s perspective.

construction sites



Details from Dusan Malinovic, panel three, Migration Memories: Lightning Ridge. Design: Iona Walsh.


Looking back on the project

My first impression of Dusan was that he was a man of action and I wondered if all the sitting and talking and thinking involved in developing his story for the display would be to his liking. As he said, it was not something he had ever done before, and the idea that we might reduce his life to a few panels made him laugh – though he acknowledged that if we did it all, it would stretch from Lightning Ridge to Sydney!


  dusan today
Dusan wearing the 50th anniversary cap given to former workers on the Snowy Mountains Scheme. Photograph: Jenni Brammall, 2006.

It brings home memories. It puts me back, comes back to me.  If somebody doesn’t bring this up, you don’t think about it… Bringing you old memories, what you’ve been through in your whole life… And I hope people come and see it, read about it and have a look at it.  That’s how people get to know each other, how they come in here, where they come from… How they feel about where they come from.

panel detail
Extract from Migration Memories exhibtion panel.
Design: Iona Walsh.