Melbourne’s population consists of people from all over the world. More than 140 cultures can be found, from Victoria’s original Indigenous population to more recent migrants from Asia and Africa. The whole community includes people from Sudan, Somalia, New Zealand, Malaysia, Indonesia, China, United Kingdom, Vietnam, Italy, Greece, India, Japan, South Korea and many more. Some of these nationalities are recent arrivals, some came early in Melbourne’s history, but they all contributed significantly to the city’s growing identity.
A lot of Chinese migrants came to Victoria in the 1850s after gold was discovered. Their impact is evident throughout Melbourne, but is prominent in the streets and alleys around Little Bourke Street. Melbourne’s Chinatown was established around 1854-1855 as a cluster of shops and boarding houses in Celestial Avenue. Today the precinct is a colourful area packed with shops and restaurants.
Most of the Italians came between the 1920s and 1950s, Carlton was the main destination for immigrant Italians. Lygon Street remains a joyous celebration of everything Italian. This popular strip is lined with double-storey Victorian terraces that house dozens of Italian shops, cafes and restaurants. This is the street that introduced an espresso machine to Melbourne in the 1950s, launching the city’s famous love affair with coffee.
Greek migration to Australia dates back to 1827 but the vast majority of Greeks arrived between 1945 and 1982. Melbourne is said to have the largest Greek-speaking population outside of Europe, after Athens and Thessaloniki.
Vietnamese migrants came to Melbourne at the fall of Saigon in 1975, when there were only 1000 Vietnamese people living in Australia. Today, the Vietnamese surname, Nguyen, is one of the most listed surnames in the Melbourne phonebook. Melbourne’s Vietnamese population initially congregated around Victoria Street in Abbotsford. This inner-city working class shopping strip has been transformed into a vibrant Vietnamese community. Some of the city’s cheapest and best food can be found here and Melburnians enjoy day and night the enormous bowls of pho soup, rice paper rolls and noodle dishes.
A good way to get to know multicultural Melbourne is to use George’s Limousine service in Melbourne.