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Byron Shire
December 9, 2022

More pieces added to New Italy’s history

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Dr Pol Dalmau’s research adds a Spanish layer to the story of New Italy. Photo Supplied.

From ‘old’ Italy to New Italy via Spain, history professor at Pompeu Fabra University, Barcelona, Dr Pol Dalmau, will visit the New Italy Museum on Sunday to talk about the Spanish archives with information about the Italian families who settled in the town from 1882.

Another layer of the story

Dr Dalmau’s research adds another layer to the story of New Italy – about the migrants’ time in Spain before their departure for the Pacific and Australia.

Hundreds of hopeful emigrants had assembled in Barcelona in 1880, waiting to embark on their trip to a promised island paradise in the south, but the fateful voyage, orchestrated by French aristocrat M Charles du Breil, the Marquis de Rays, ended at Port Breton in Latangai, or New Ireland in Papua New Guinea, after several deaths onboard and investors losing their money.

The survivors were rescued and taken to Sydney before many eventually settled in the Northern Rivers.

Little known of lead-up to journey

The Italian emigrants’ arrival in Australia is well documented, but until now little had been known of the lead-up to the trip.

Dr Dalmau will speak about the reasons that led the families to embark on such a dangerous expedition; the controversy sparked by their stay in Barcelona; the wave of progressive intellectuals who denounced de Rays’ colony as fraudulent, and; the attempts to send the families back to Italy before it was too late.

Dr Dalmau will share his research at an information session facilitated by local consultant historian

This event will be held at the New Italy Museum on Sunday from 12pm.


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