Adem Obarcanin, from the city of Gorazde in Bosnia and Herzegovina, arrived as a single man in Australia in 1951. As a young man, he was always interested in trade and business and for a time sold cloth and textiles in his home town.
Adem Obarcanin, from the city of Gorazde in Bosnia and Herzegovina, arrived as a single man in Australia in 1951. As a young man, he was always interested in trade and business. For some time, he had sold cloth and textiles in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
During his voyage, Adem travelled on a Norwegian ship 'Skaubryn' with 2,500 passengers, among them Polish, Italian, Greek, Croatian, Serbian, and Slovenian people, and five-six Bosnian Muslims. He remembered that most of passengers were single males, perhaps 200 couples and about 40 single women. The ship sailed from Germany to France, then to London with a stop on the Temza River. It continued to sail from Gibraltar to Port Said in Egypt then to Colombo. From there the ship stopped in Fremantle and finally arrived in Melbourne.
One of his very first jobs was wood cutting and timber transporting in South Australia. While working in South Australia he met Sally Mahomet, one of the last surviving descendants of Afghan settlers, who in the mid-20th century was recognised as a spiritual leader of the Afghan community in Central Australia and Alice Springs in particular. Adem worked with Sally on building fences for rabbits and from him he heard many stories about old Afghan cameleers. In the old Adelaide Mosque he met Imam Ahmed Skaka and other friends and with them celebrated Eid Festivals.
While travelling across Australia he lived most of his time in Melbourne. In Melbourne he became a successful businessman and opened a reception centre, petrol station and also ran his export-import company by travelling to various countries for his business. He supplied various companies with equipment and products and also sold some goods at the Victoria Market.
He visited Bosnia and there he met his future wife, Hida, a qualified nurse, who would work in Melbourne hospitals. He also brought a number of relatives to Australia. He was respected and loved by family members and friends and was always in their company. Hida and Adem always welcomed guests visiting their house and garden. Adem was person of a cheerful mood even when he was very ill. He had a good sense of humour, telling many jokes. One of his jokes was 'the first 50 years in Australia is hard, but after it is much easier'.
He was a longstanding member of the Bosnian Muslim community in Noble Park. He was a supporter of Bosnian cultural events, while Hida also sang traditional songs in a Bosnian choir. Adem died in Bosnia where he spent his last few years of his long life. Not long after, his beloved wife Hida also died there.
Based on Dzavid Haveric's interview with Adem Obarcanin circa 2018.