The history of the South West is based on settlers and migrants moving from a foreign place for a new home.
The South West Migrant Memorial Committee has started piecing this history together with a memorial featuring migrants’ stories.
As part of this project, the Mail will be featuring these stories. This story is on Albert Piacentini.
Carlo Alberto Piacentini was five years old when his father migrated to Australia in 1924. His father left behind a wife and three children.
It was a struggle to support the family at first because he could only get small work digging drains in Busselton.
Albert lived in a town called Fressinoro near Modina with his mother, brother Leo and sister Nancy. He always remembered how cold it was as it snowed for five months of the year.
When the depression came he was forced to help feed the family.
Even at an early age he showed initiative catching and selling frogs, which were a delicacy in the cities.
He also worked as a shepherd helping graze and milk sheep and cutting and storing firewood for the winter. Albert could not take life in Italy anymore and asked his father to sponsor him to Australia.
In 1936 Albert arrived in WA and joined his father in Karridale where his prime job was sleeper cutting.
During this hard period he learned to speak English and understand the Australian way of life. His first business venture was in 1944 when he built a mill on Ferguson Road east of Dardanup.
His family from Italy soon followed to help with then mill. At this point he met and married Elizabeth Catherine Panizza and they formed a great partnership in life and business and were married for 64 years.
They raised four children, Helen, Colin, Margaret and Elizabeth and enjoyed nine grandchildren and eight great grandchildren.
In 1948 the Albert bought his first bulldozer and he worked more than 100 hours per week clearing bush in the Margaret River area.
He gradually increased his equipment fleet and became involved in sand mining. His son Colin and later two grandsons joined the company which today operates nationally and internationally as Piacentini and Son.
Albert had great skills in understanding machinery for specific situations and purposes.
Despite the lack of education he led the way pioneering major new development in the industry.
Albert passed away at the age of 91 and his wife Elizabeth one year after.