Nicola Cirocco AOM JP

Date of Birth : 29 April 1941
Date of Migration: 16 April 1957
Married to : Maria Seneca

I was born in 1941 in Molinara, Italy during WW2.

Education was encouraged by my parents, and I went to school on 6 days, from 8am to 12 noon. Afterwards, I would look after flocks of sheep, goats and a donkey on the hills my family owned.

I remember the journey to Australia being an eye opener, spending 31 days on the boat ‘Australia.’ On the way to Australia we visited the African continent.

My only expectations coming to Australia as a 15-year-old was of getting a better education and being able to build a better life for myself and future family.

After coming to Australia, my priority was to learn English. This proved to be a challenge, as everyone around me at the time was Italian and did not speak the language themselves.

I was always looking for opportunities to build a better life, in becoming an Australian citizen when I could, and searching for better job prospects. I took a job at the railways, as this was secure work as a public servant.

I learnt English by taking a three-month language course at Tailem Bend, in the south-east of South Australia. This proved to be helpful, as it allowed me to engage with a greater number of English speakers on a more regular basis.

After taking the course at Tailem Bend, I returned to Adelaide and shortly afterwards married Maria. Around this time, I also took a course at The University of Adelaide to obtain my intermediate certificate, which is the equivalent of three years of secondary schooling today. I knew this would help me transition into an office role at the railways, which was something I aspired to do. As luck would have it, I was able to move into an office role and spent 25 years working there doing various roles.

I first joined the Molinara club in 1972, as a way to engage with others in the Molinarese community. I quickly found it to be a good opportunity to socialise and play sports with others in the community.

I became more involved with the club as a committee member. During this time, we created subcommittees that would oversee the social and sporting aspects of the club and thus offer opportunities for the members. We also embarked on a variety of upgrades to the clubrooms, including the kitchen and main hall that still exist today. Additionally, in those days the club would frequently hold dinner dances. Some of my personal favourites were held at the St Clair recreation hall, where over 1,000 people would attend.

I was proud to be part of the bocce committee, which not only introduced the game to the club, but also built a new bocce stadium alongside the clubrooms.

The club also joined the South Australian Bocce Federation, which consisted of many other clubs from across the state. During this time, I arranged many competitions with other clubs as the game became very popular. This also led me to join the South Australian Bocce Federation, where I proudly became the secretary and later the President for a number of years.

It was a good outcome for the Molinara Club, as many club members also took part in the bocce competitions.

My involvement with SA Bocce Federation also allowed me the opportunity to travel around Australia and see much more of the country. I was also put in charge of the Australian Junior team, a privilege that allowed me to travel to Europe to take part in world championships for several years.

I was surprised and honoured, in June 1995, I was awarded the Honour of the Order of Australia medal for the promotion of the sport of bocce and services to the Italian-Australian community. Furthermore, in June of 1996 I was equally surprised and honoured to be presented with the Australian Sports medal for my services to the sport of bocce.

Another accomplishment I am very proud of is being appointed as a Justice of the Peace for South Australia in 1981.

Even after moving to Australia, I have faced other challenges throughout my life. Fortunately, I have been able to face these challenges alongside my wife of 56 years, Maria, and our two children, Christine and Rocco-John.

I am also proud that the fashion business we started in 1974 with my wife, is still going strong today.

Life is always full of challenges and opportunities. It’s up to every individual to learn how to make it a success.