What Is the History of Italian Immigration to Australia?

The history of Italian immigrants to Australia began with the First Fleet in 1787 and continued through the gold rushes of the 1850s. However, the first Italians to reach Australia did so in 1770 on the ship of Captain James Cook.

A few Italian immigrants arrived in New South Wales, Australia in 1788 on convict ships. During the 1850s, Italians willingly immigrated to Australia. They settled in Victoria, where the gold rushes took place, though many moved on to other parts of Australia to find work. In fact, it was Italian immigrant Raffaello Carboni who witnessed the Eureka Stockade tragedy in 1854. The Eureka Stockade occurred as conflict between gold diggers and those that licensed mines. During the incident, 22 gold diggers were killed.

Italians who stayed in Victoria began farming. By 1896, 1,500 Italians lived in Victoria alone. Italians continued to immigrate to Australia up until the early 1900s. Two acts passed in 1925 and 1928 curbed the number of Italians allowed to immigrate. These levels did not increase again until after World War II. These new immigrants came from Calabria and Sicily, and moved to Australia as farmers and agriculturists. As of 2011, more than 76,000 people living in Victoria were born in Italy.