Immigration has played a particularly significant role in shaping settler-colonial societies, including Australia. Successive governments have taken instrumental roles in constructing narratives of Australia’s immigration history. Contrary to the images we see today–of capsizing boats and desperate people seeking refuge–the picture of post-Second World War immigration was all sunshine and smiles, hope and opportunity. Throughout the post-war decades the vaunted Australian sense of fairness was tested by those who entered the country without valid entry permits, for example stowaways and ship’s deserters or visitors, including students who had overstayed their visas. In this paper, we consider an archaeological assemblage of 327 graffiti made by immigration detainees while they were awaiting deportation from the North Head Immigration Detention Centre in Sydney, New South Wales. These graffiti provide a counter-narrative to the rosy image and official record of late-twentieth-century immigration to Australia.