Dutch family’s big Deni reunion
Tuesday marked 60 years since the Kleverlaan family migrated from Holland to Australia and settled temporarily in Deniliquin.
Albert Kleverlaan, a bricklayer by trade, was sponsored by Peter Liefting Snr to work in Deniliquin in 1957.
Members of the Kleverlaan family gathered at Deniliquin’s BIG4 Holiday Park on Saturday and Sunday for a family reunion to mark the milestone.
Albert’s son John Kleverlaan said 57 family members attended, including his youngest brother Edward who has only recently returned to Australia from living in the United Kingdom.
‘‘We invited Peter (Liefting Jnr) along to the reunion, and he was happy to come and speak with us all,’’ John said.
‘‘The family didn’t live in Deniliquin too long because it was far too hot, and because while Dad was a bricklayer he could only get concreting work.’’
John was 10 when he came to live in Deniliquin.
Returning for the reunion with his wife Leanne and staying in Deniliquin an entire week — returning home to Berwick in Victoria yesterday — he said it was great to reminisce and see how Deniliquin had changed.
‘‘Dad had bought a home in Victoria St and it’s still there but looks very different.
‘‘It was a two bedroom home, but there were 11 of us living there.
‘‘We all attended Deniliquin St Michael’s School, and I remember walking over the National Bridge, past all the tin roof huts at The Flat, to get to school.
‘‘I only knew one English word when I came to Australia — ‘dog’. I learned English reading with Johnny Liefting, which I think took about two weeks.
‘‘I remember feeling like we were very different because we had different clothes.’’
Albert and Maria came to Deniliquin with nine children — Wilhelmina, Cornelis (dec.), Bert, Mary, John, Carla, Jack, Lou and Edward.
The family members are now scattered across Australia and the world, with eldest sister Wilhemina returning to Holland as an adult with her family.
BELOW: John Kleverlaan in front of the family’s former home in north Deniliquin.
RIGHT: The family in Amsterdam before coming to Australia. (Back, from left) Albert, Bert, Wilhelmina, Maria, Mary and Cornelis; (front) Edward, Lou, Carla, Jack and John.
ABOVE: (Back, from left) Cornelis, John, Bert, Maria, Albert, Wilhelmina and Mary; (front) Jack, Edward, Lou and Carla.
Fifty-seven members of the Kleverlaan family were in Deniliquin for the reunion.