Still a Minority in a Land of Foreigners
Unlike say a generation of Lebanese, Cypriots or Vietnamese, Thailand hasn’t had a refugee status that forced Thais to leave the country and immigrate to Australia. Thais are still a tiny percentage of Australians but that number is growing rapidly as the bilateral travel-flows elevate the numbers of people travelling in both directions. This fosters Thai-Australian marriages and Australian-Thai business opportunities that simply weren’t there a couple of decades ago.
The Very First Thais
Only three Thais were recorded in the Australian census of 1901, but by the 1920’s the King of Thailand Butra Mahintra was sending dignitaries and notables, principally for the task of finding suitable racehorses. Later, in 1927 Prince Purachatra embarked on a voyage of scientific discovery to Australia to learn more about infrastructure and agriculture from Australia. There’s a long history of Thailand learning from Australian farming.
Keep an Eye Out For Students
Australia has for some years been one of the top educational destinations for Thais. It all began in the 1950’s with the Colombo plan that encouraged students from the Asia Pacific region to come to Australia, but by 1966 the total student population was still only a couple of hundred. By the 90’s the number of Thai students in Australia was numbered in the low thousands, but by the last census of 2011 that figure had mushroomed to well over 21 000. Keep an eye out for students to make great contacts while in Australia.
In the heart of Sydney’s Central Business District (CBD) is the Thai cultural epicentre. Thai Town is on the border of China Town and Haymarket on Campbell Street. There you will find Thai people, Thai groceries, Thai restaurants and shops selling Thai products. No visitor to Australia can feel more at home than at Thai Town. A great time to go is on, or during, Thai festivities such as Songkran (Thai New Year) and Loy Krathong (Thai Lantern Festival). Thais flock to Thai Town area from all over, and a true taste of Thai conviviality is on display for all Australians to sample and feel.
Have you checked out the Australia Thai Association?
A terrific way of meeting upwardly mobile Thais in Australia is to keep an eye out for Australia Thai Association events. The patrons of this association are none other than the Thai Ambassador to Australia and former Federal Member Ms Anette Ellis. The association was started in the 70’s by Australians who had served in the old regional treaty organisation SEATO, and to this day holds events and celebrations to promote cross cultural ties for Thais such as the upcoming Thai Christmas dinner.