This is just a quick post I wanted to make. So yesterday I went to a place called Dandenong (quintessentially Australian in name) to do some practical things like open a bank account and buy an Australian sim card.
The journey there was an interesting one, including getting a free bus ride to the local train station because I really am out in the sticks right now, and picking up a Myki card (which is basically just an oyster card). Once I figured out which train to get on (there was only one and the woman behind the station counter laughed at me before telling me to get on it), I rode that thing as if I were a local, even though I was clearly a tourist. My journey was from Cranbourne to Dandenong, and I was pretty chuffed with my mediocre navigation skills with the help of Google. Anyway, what I came across really surprised me, even though it probably shouldn’t have.
There was so much cultural diversity in this place; which laughed in the face of my incorrect assumptions about Australia not being very open, based on the country’s history with its own indigenous people. Although if anything, the diverse ethnicities that reside here comfortably, make the treatment of the indigenous peoples that much more bizarre. And from the little I’ve seen from being in the suburbs, the borders are open here in Melbourne from all sides.
Dandenong in particular, has a huge Indian population; evidenced by the Little India signage, Bollywood posters and numerous saree and Indian sweet shops that I stumbled across during my walkabout. Additionally, a sizeable north African population also resides there, again demonstrated by the numerous African foods that can be purchased, and the north African natives living and working in the city; all of which I witnessed after only being there for a few hours.
There I was thinking I would be some anomaly; this black British Ghanaian with red hair, trying to make her way and preparing for awkwardness when she sticks out like a sore thumb. But as it turns out Aussies don’t care; they see it every day, I am merely just another patch on the technicolor quilt of their country. Hilarious!
So far this place is exceeding my expectations, and I’m learning so much more than I thought I could after only four days.
And you know what they say: When you assume you make an ass of you and me. Great saying, very preachy.
Following my post above, it turns out my assumptions have been unwittingly continued, simply with my mention of open borders. According to my family here, Australia is very selective with who they invite into the country, which is to be expected. Specifically, a few years ago a lot of Sudanese and Libyan refugees were accepted into the country, fleeing war to start a new life in Australia. This accounts for the large North African populations I encountered. The fact that Australia is so diverse is due in part to selectivity by the government when it comes to visa grants etc., and I suppose it’s a step in the right direction for a country trying to move away from it’s racist history. I guess I’m still learning (it’s only been 5 days after all) and I wanted to acknowledge the lesson, and also warn readers that I’m probably going to get some stuff wrong before I get it right. Not unlike a new government.