The closest thing John Barron ever had to a childhood home made for a sorry sight when he set his eyes on the old Fairbridge Farm village for the first time in over 40 years.
Like so many other English child migrants, Mr Barron had been born into poverty before he was stuck on a ship and sent to the other side of the world to the notorious orphanage.
Mr Barron had been seven "going on eight" when he arrived at the farm located six kilometres outside Molong. He lived and worked at the property with dozens of other child migrants until he turned 17.
After that, he got a job on the railways before his life followed the path of many Fairbridge Farm survivors when he was conscripted into the army in 1968 for two years.
"I was already adapted to that sort of discipline so it was easier for me than some of the others," he said.
As for army food, that was "100 percent" better than anything ever served up at Fairbridge Farm.
"It was slop," he said.
For the past 50 years Mr Barron had been living in Canberra, returning to Orange every decade or so for a "Fairbridge kid" reunion, but had not seen the farm itself in "more than 40 years".
It was the unveiling of a Military Monument at Fairbridge Children's Park which finally brought him back.
Of the more than 900 poor British children who were sent to live on the Molong farm orphanage between 1938 - 1974, nearly ten percent went on to serve in the armed forces - during both war and peacetime operations.
On Saturday, March 20, Mr Barron was among five former occupants of the farm and military veterans to turn off the Mitchell Highway and park their cars in the abandoned, overgrown village, before making their way to the commemorative park nearby.
The extent to which the old village had gone to ruin was something of a shock to those who returned to the scene of a childhood that was often tough and sometimes abusive.
"You put the past behind you, you have to. You've got to move on," Mr Barron said.
"I've seen photos of it in the past but I haven't physically been on site.
"When you go in[side], it's just that eerie, eerie feeling.
"When you walk inside the building and you look in the bathroom and the dormitory [you think] 'geeze, we used to sleep in here'.
However, there were still times when memories sneaked up, as they did on Saturday when he stepped back inside the 'Blue Cottage' - where he had lived with 15 other boys for nine years.
"You do get those feelings [when] you walk in that door," the army veteran said.
"You sort of visualise the bathroom, the kitchen [and remember] how basic it was."
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