A railway camp for railway workers was established near the corner of the Hume Highway and Brunker Road, Chullora in 1948. It covered 18 hectares of westerly slopes and initially some 20 huts, called chalets, were constructed. With time 13 chalets covered an area around Anzac Street, North Chullora. Small huts housed single men, larger ones railway staff (drivers, fireman, guards and conductors).
K.T. Groves recorded his memories of the camp. Rent was one pound a week ($2), including electricity (2 ceiling lights and 2 power points). A fuel stove was provided but many residents bought electric stoves. Electricity consumption increased and the railway charged for it. A coal hand-fired vertical boiler shared between a number of chalets provided the only hot water but proved a very inefficient system. Two families shared a laundry (a concrete tub and ironing board). The chalets were hot in summer and cold in winter. For entertainment, there were the local pictures at Bankstown, punchbowl on Saturday nights and soccer matches, which the migrants enjoyed, on Sunday afternoons. The men worked shifts, often 12 hours straight to acquire the Australian dream, their own home. Opposite the workshops at Chullora, blocks of land were selling for 100 pounds in 1950 but it was difficult to save on 8 pounds a week. Working hard, with overtime, Groves and his wife finally purchased a standard block of land at Greenacre in 1955 for 500 pounds.
The Chullora railway camp had an Australian and migrant section. Migrants were generally Eastern European displaced person, mostly Polish. Married men and families were accommodated in cramped quarters. There was a general store, operated by a Polish family. Mc Vicar’s buses provided local transport. In 1949, the Catholic Church built St. Francis Cabpini for the Catholic residents at the camp. The church closed in 1965. By 1951 the camp was known as Chullora Accommodation Centre for Migrants. The Sydney Morning Herald ran a 1957 article, “A Shanty Town that makes the Railways Ashamed.” Fifteen hundred new Australian men, women and children lived in 40 -3 metres by 2.75 metre huts, which, although bigger were substandard. The one room of the smaller huts served as a kitchen, bedroom, living room and bathroom for a family, often with four children. Life in the huts was primitive. Cooking facilities were provided in a galvanised iron shack with a low roof and cement floor with an open coke and coal fire, burning under two long bars of railway track. There was no running water in the smaller huts, unless tenants had pushed a garden hose through a window. Community showers were galvanised iron sheds with cement floors, hot water piped from a boiler house. Laundries only a trough. Tenants added small vegetable gardens, kitchenettes, carports and fences to some huts. The rent in the migrant section was 1 pound a week . Some of the chalets had additional sleep outs which cost an extra 10 shillings a week. A Polish couple had lived in displaced persons camp in Europe and been housed in notorious Cowra camp for 2 years before arriving to Chullora. Resident five years, they bought a block of land locally and were saving to build a house but declared “it seems we will never have enough.” Many mothers worked and the Sisters of Charity had opened an infants school for 120 children. Sister Brendan also ran a club for young girls at the camp.
The Department of Railways regarded Chullora as a temporary measure. There was Housing Commission scheme for provision of cottages of two and three bedrooms of which 80 were erected in Chester Hill and 122 at Lidcombe on railway land. But the scheme ceased because of lack of money. Many of the railway workers purchased land and settled in the district.