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Communities and culture in Melbourne

As Australia's most culturally diverse city, people from over 200 countries call Melbourne home. Everyone has a connection to another culture in some way and this is shown in the adoption of different food, cultures and traditions throughout Melbourne and Victoria.

A multicultural history

Melbourne and Victoria have a long history of immigration from all over the world. Our local Chinese community first settled in the gold rushes of the 1850s. Indian immigration began in the late 1800s; a wave of British migrants came in the 1920s and 1930s; while migrants from Italy, Greece, Malta, Croatia and Turkey came here in the 1950s and 1960s.

A multicultural city and state

Today, nearly half of the population was born overseas or have a parent who was born overseas. Over 230 languages and dialects are spoken. Cultural diversity is a part of everyday life and is celebrated.

Restaurants, food and shopping

Wherever you are from, you are sure to find restaurants and food stores representing cuisines from many of the 200 nationalities that have made Melbourne and Victoria their home.

Melbourne’s Victoria Street, known as Little Saigon, is famous for its Vietnamese restaurants and food stores. Sydney Road, in Brunswick (Melbourne’s inner north) is full of Middle Eastern restaurants, halal food stores and specialty shops including Islamic women’s clothing stores. Footscray has many Asian and Ethiopian cafes and restaurants; while Little Lonsdale Street in inner Melbourne  is lined with Chinese restaurants.

Outside Melbourne, education providers are located in towns in Victoria with rich histories in multicultural settlement. These towns offer a range of cuisines that reflect this heritage. For example, the town of Ballarat offers Chinese, Japanese, Spanish, Indian, Thai and Italian restaurants.

Ingredients from around the world can also be found in markets in Preston, South Melbourne and Footscray; and in supermarkets and smaller grocery shops throughout Melbourne.

Religion

In Melbourne and Victoria you will find places of worship for over 100 faiths. Temples, mosques, churches and synagogues are found across Melbourne and in some Victorian towns. Many universities and colleges have prayer rooms and interfaith chapels.

Festivals and events

Cultural diversity has enriched every aspect of life in Melbourne and is celebrated with a range of festivals including: Chinese New Year, Diwali – the Indian Festival of Light, Vietnamese (Tet) New Year, the Hispanic Latin American Fiesta and Cultural Diversity Week just to name a few.

Outside of Melbourne, celebrations include an Italian Festival at Myrtleford, a Swedish Festival in Walhalla, Pako Festa in Geelong and the Bendigo Chinese Easter Festival.

Additional information

Did you know?

Melbourne’s Moomba festival has occurred every year since 1955 and is Australia’s largest free community festival. Join in the fun and festivities this March.

Journey Planner

Travel by public transport

Last updated: 27 Jun 2013

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