Dutch fam­ily’s big Deni re­u­nion

Deniliquin Pastoral Times - - FRONT PAGE -

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.

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