In June 1911, Aurelia Betti (Nonna) was born in the Valtellina Region of Northern Italy in the small village of Tresivio. Nonna was the seventh or eight children born to Giovani Betti a peasant farmer, and his wife Louisa.
When Nonna was only eight she sadly lost her mother to a stomach tumour. Nonna had little schooling and spent much of her time caring for her sister Sylvia’s children as she passed away at the young age of 17.
In December 1927 at the age of 16, Nonna set sail with her father, Giovani Betti and a young Les Betti to Australia. After three long months they arrived in Fremantle Western Australia and settled in Collie where Nonna worked in a wine saloon. It was here that Nonna met a young Luigi Tuia (Nonno) who had migrated to Australia in 1918 and was cutting sleepers in Bridgetown at the time. In 1931 they celebrated their love with a wedding in Bridgetown and they began their lives together on a property in Balingup.
In 1939 they moved to King Spring Road, Thomson Brook near Donnybrook and it was here that Nonna raised her children Ida, Elsie, Nino and Lui while Nonno was busy on the farm. There home was the calling place of many Italians in the area with their wine and sausages bringing people together.
After 23 years on the farm in Thomson Brook, it was time to move into town, and so in 1962 they settled into their home at 13 Alnutt Street, Donnybrook. It was a busy hub and a home full of love. Nonna and Nonno both tendered their garden with an abundance of vegetables behind the shed, everything from fruit trees to that strawberry patch delight. The beautiful roses bloomed, the shade house was full and no matter where you looked the garden was alive. They enjoyed sharing regular meals with the family, grandchildren sleepovers and friends popping in.
After Nonno died in 1980 Nonna stayed in her home. She attended church regularly, helped out at the Red Cross shop, was a member of the CWA and cooked for the Catholic Ladies when they catered for event
In 1996 she moved into Tuia Lodged. She spent three happy years there but as her health deteriorated she became a permanent resident at the hospital until she passed on 21 April 2008.
Nonna and Nonno are buried alongside each other in the Donnybrook Cemetery.Photo Gallery
Sleepovers, in that big double bed and breakfast in front of the oven on Nonna’s meters stove.
Lunch after church on Sunday, hoping it would be chicken risotto or pasta.
Raiding the shed that was full of preserves, jams, pickles galore.
Nonna’s shade house – what a great place to hide.
Please refer to the Documents section for am amazing collection of migration and personal documents. This is just a small example of what is available.