It seems there are endless reality shows on German TV these days that follow German emigrants on their way to their new homes all around the world. The families sharing their hopes, dreams, and problems in front of the camera always make me think of the emigrant ancestors we researched so far. One of the favorite emigration destinations for Germans is and was Australia. Today, people go there for the friendly people, nature, beaches, and the sun. That sure was different back in the days…
The history of German immigration in Australia started at the beginning of all European immigration in 1733, when the “First Fleet” brought convicts to a continent that was so different to Europe: The climate, flora and fauna caused real struggle with the new inhabitants and more than once, they were haunted by diseases.
Nevertheless, more and more Germans made their way down under. Especially in the Barossa Valley in South Australia, where the largest German group of immigrants settled in 1830, the German heritage is still very present. The old-Lutheran religious refugees from the German states started viniculture there, and today still a lot of wineries carry German names.
When at first gold was found in Australia, a mass of adventurers from Germany and all over the world came to the country, trying to find their luck. In the age of world wars, the enthusiasm towards German immigration cooled down. It took until the 1950s that workers from Germany were recruited to Australia again; a chance very welcome to young men trying to escape the Post-war ruins of Europe.
The reasons, ways of transport and experiences of German immigrants in Australia have changed a fair bit over the last three and a half centuries. But then and now many searched their luck down under – and found it.