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Nellie Fong

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Nellie Fong was just three years old when the war forced her family to evacuate their home town of Pine Creek. The family had lived for many years in the small village, where Nellie's father Thomas Fong was running a market garden he had inherited from his father.

After the first air raid on Darwin, authorities were worried about civilians being targeted and orders came through for women and children to leave.

Leaving with her mum, also named Nellie (nee Chan), two older sisters Joan and Veronica and younger sister Barbara, Nellie remembers little of the journey, being so young.

But she recalls that it was by Army truck with an open tray, and then by train. Just o few weeks after they left bombers struck Katherine, just to the south.

Dad stayed behind growing vegetables for the Army. Mum and the girls arrived in Adelaide and stayed with their friends the Ah Toy family.

With evacuees arriving in all of the southern cities, accommodation was restricted. There were several families living in the one house. After a while they moved to the suburb of Fullarton, and that was where another sister.

The family returned to Pine Creek in 1943. (Nellie thinks they may have been among the first families to return to the Territory.) Nellie was glad to be back in the NT, enjoying the freedom they had as children to explore the bush.

After the war, the Fang family relocated from Pine Creek to Darwin, where one of Nellie's most enduring memories of the time was the merchandise available at Harry Chan's shop in Smith Street - a Sidney Williams hut around where Woolworths now stands. The family then acquired a house in Stuart Park near the tap entrance to the now George Brown Botanic Gardens.

Nellie left Darwin when she was 18 to see the world, the bright lights and to pursue a career in nursing and teaching, but is back in Darwin on an almost yearly basis.

Download Territory Remembers Nellie Fong Postcard

Nellie Fong Evacuee (PH0496-0021 NTL)
Family Portrait, July 1942 (PH045-0023 NTL)