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  • Writer's pictureMo Zaatar

Experience the World from Australia by Visiting these Migrant Communities

Updated: Mar 11


migrant communities in Australia

One of the best things about living in a multicultural nation like Australia is the ability to experience other cultures locally. Thanks to our engagement with all of these cultures from within Australia, we are some of the most curious and engaged people in the world. We are inspired to visit other cultures after getting a taste of them here, first.


Multicultural spaces can be found all across Australia. Every city has a Chinatown and therefore we all know what a wonderful day trip it is, but here are seven other cultural spaces that are a must-visit for everyone (especially during festival seasons):


Auburn, Sydney: You’re not likely to find a melting pot of culture as distinctive and interesting as Auburn anywhere in Australia. A trip through the suburb will bring you into contact with a range of different Middle Eastern, Asian, and African cultures, and this multiculturalism makes Auburn one of the best places for both food and festivals in the city.


Ask the locals for their restaurant recommendations and you’re likely to be pointed towards Turkish, Lebanese, Afghani and Pakistani eateries. One of the best ways to truly sample the suburb’s delights is to embark on a DIY food trail, where you’ll get to indulge the sweet tooth with Turkish Delight, experience the flavour sensation of saffron ice cream, or enjoy the otherworldly kasar cheese. Auburn’s restaurants are almost all small, family-owned businesses, so you’ll get to enjoy the hospitality of people that truly know what the word “family” means.


When you’re ready to give the stomach a break, other highlights with a strong multicultural spirit include the Auburn Botanic Gardens and Bicentennial Park, which are popular spots for locals and tourists alike. To get a taste of Asian influences, Auburn is also well known for its Chinese Cultural Dance classes. And then there's the Ramadan street festival - that’s definitely something you don’t want to miss, and all people (not just Muslims!) are welcomed!


Dandenong, Melbourne: Located in the southeast of Melbourne, Dandenong is so multicultural that there are people from more than 170 cultural backgrounds in the suburb, and around 70% of locals don’t speak English at home! This multiculturalism is not only a testament to the city’s welcoming nature but also contributes to its vibrant and dynamic community.


It’s also why the area is one of the favourite destinations for foodies. You can easily jump in on a food and cultural tour that will have you eating Vietnamese pho one minute before drinking a Pakistani falooda the next. Or you can guide yourself, and you’ll find everything from authentic Italian to the lesser-known delights and tastes from Cambodia in Springville Market Square.


Speaking of Market Square, the people of the area are also intensely proud of their multiculturalism, and while there, a visit to the Multicultural Place is a must. This public gathering space in Springvale serves as a popular place to meet when out and about or shopping, and is themed after the many Asian cultures that make up so much of the population.


Little India, Harris Park, Sydney: Located in the suburb of Harris Park in Sydney, “Little India” is a vibrant hub of Indian culture. The area is known for its numerous Indian restaurants, where you can sample a variety of regional dishes. Not sure of the difference between Punjabi and South Indian cuisine? A trip to Little India will help fill you in.


Meanwhile, the grocery stores in the area are amazingly aromatic with the range of Indian spices they stock, making it a great place for food lovers to explore.


Major events in Little India include Diwali, the Festival of Lights, and Holi, the Festival of Colours. Diwali, in particular, is celebrated with great enthusiasm, with the streets of Harris Park lit up with lamps and fireworks.


In addition to its food and festivals, Little India also boasts several shops selling traditional Indian clothing and accessories. These range from colourful saris to intricate jewellery, and will give you a small glimpse into the depth of Indian fashion and craftsmanship. It’s also the place to go to look for classic Bollywood DVDs, if you’ve ever been interested in seeing what the largest film industry in the world produces. The area also has several Indian beauty salons, where you can experience traditional treatments like threading and henna tattoos.


Footscray, Melbourne: Footscray, a suburb of Melbourne, is a truly diverse place, and people love going there for not one, but two very different cultural experiences. The suburb is well-known as both a cultural centre for Australian Vietnamese and East African migrants. That means that you can sample authentic Pho at a Vietnamese restaurant, and then just a few shops away, try injera and doro wat at an Ethiopian eatery.


Footscray also hosts several cultural events throughout the year, giving you the chance to celebrate both vibrant cultures. The Lunar New Year Festival is a major event for the Vietnamese community. Much like the Chinese Lunar New Year, it features dragon dances, traditional music, and food stalls - but there’s a cultural twist and it’s really worth attending both Chinese and Vietnamese celebrations to experience the different aesthetics and experiences.


Meanwhile, the East African Music and Cultural Festival is another highlight, showcasing the music, dance, and cuisine of countries like Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Somalia. African culture is often misunderstood or a “blind spot”, even for well-travelled people, and this is a great opportunity for Australians to fill some of the gaps.


Footscray’s multiculturalism is also reflected in its arts scene. The Footscray Community Arts Centre hosts a variety of exhibitions, performances, and workshops, and has an annual program that is well aware of the local cultures. It includes events like the Africa Day Australia Festival and the Due West Arts Festival.


Broome: The city of Broome, located on the northern coast of Western Australia, surprises many people with its deep integration with Japanese culture and thriving Japanese community. Historically, the city was a pearling port, and Japanese pearlers were highly regarded for their abilities in the field. Over time, the community grew, and now Broome offers the intrepid traveller a unique blend of Caucasian, First Nations and Japanese cultures.

Interesting fact: The town’s Japanese Cemetery is the largest of its kind in Australia, serving as a testament to the strong Japanese influence in the area, and as a reminder of the ultimate sacrifice that many Japanese pearl divers paid to support their dangerous industry.


These days, the Japanese community in Broome hosts various cultural events. One of the highlights is the Matsuri Festival (in August this year, though dates are subject to change). This celebration of Japanese culture features the kind of traditional music and dance performances that are a far cry from the J-Pop many people associate with Japan (though just as wonderful to experience), martial arts demonstrations, and Japanese food stalls. Japanese street food goes well beyond sushi, and you’ll find all kinds of delights for the taste buds there.


Broome’s Japanese community also contributes to the town’s vibrant arts scene. Japanese influences can be seen in local art galleries and craft shops, and the town’s history is preserved in the Broome Historical Museum, which features exhibits on the pearling industry and the broader role that the Japanese have had in shaping the city.


South Brisbane: The Brisbane South region is home to the largest Pasifika and Māori community in Australia. The area is a hub of Polynesian culture, with shops selling traditional Pasifika and Māori goods, and restaurants giving you the chance to try traditional foods from the islands. These range from Samoan panipopo (coconut buns) to New Zealand hangi (a traditional method of cooking food using heated rocks buried in a pit oven), the culinary offerings in the area are a testament to the rich cultural heritage of the Pasifika and Māori communities.


Major events in the area include the Pasifika Festival, where you’ll enjoy performances by traditional dance groups, contemporary Pasifika musicians, and craft workshops. Waitangi Day, a celebration of New Zealand’s national day, is another major event in the community. The day is marked with traditional Māori performances, speeches, and a shared feast.


These are just some of the major hubs, but if you take a trip into the suburbs of Melbourne or Western Sydney, you’re going to come across one location after the next where a particular migrant culture has congregated, and those are the best places to experience a wide range of flavours and aesthetics. By supporting these communities by shopping or eating there, you’ll also be supporting their families, as many of the migrants in the diaspora will transfer money overseas and back home to share their blessings and good fortune.


Woodville Gardens, Adelaide: The north-western suburb of Woodville Gardens in Adelaide, is something of a hidden gem for people who want to experience the depth of multiculturalism in Australia. The initial settlement was the result of a large wave of immigrants from Eastern Europe arriving in Australia following the Second World War. From there it has become a hub for many other cultures as well, and today 54.6% of the area’s residents were born overseas.


For the visitor, the suburb offers a variety of experiences that cater to a multitude of interests. It is the location of Adelaide’s Chinatown – a small but bustling strip of shops and eateries that can’t be missed. You’ll also find a large range of Asian grocery stores and restaurants along Hanson road.


It’s also an ideal location to see multiculturalism at its best in Australia. The local Woodville Gardens School provides rich educational experiences in a way that values the language and heritage of all families who contribute to the school community. This commitment to education and cultural exchange flows out to the entire suburb and the way locals interact, and makes Woodville Gardens a truly special place to visit.


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