Australia, and Melbourne in particular, have become destinations of choice for learning the English language.
Aware of the urgency of this and other opportunities, endowed with scholarships and subsidies from their states, young Chinese, Taiwanese, Filipinos, Vietnamese, Japanese and Koreans flock to the south of the country.
Athey adapt among compatriots and live their new ozzie lives to the full.
Western visitors like us start to wonder at the abundance of Asians on the Big Island. Over time, they get used to the unexpected ethnic deviation. Some are inspired by it.
As we enter the futuristic Federation Square, Scott, an American acrobat touring Oceania, performs.
He kicks off his comedic juggling act with a snide: “Hi everyone, it's wonderful to be back in Australasia. Speaking of Asia, I can see that you Chinese are also multiplying well here!”.
It's not just the Chinese. Well counted, Asians in general are already over 800.000, 20% of Melbourne's population.
On any given weekday, Federation Square displays its kind of eruption of steel, glass and abstract geometry. It works as a privileged meeting point and promotes the city's great ethnic diversity.
The River Yarra's River and Social Frontier
It is right next to it that we find its river vein, the Yarra River that establishes another symbolic landmark of the colonization of Australia.
The Yarra was important to the Wurundjeri, Boonwurrung and Wathaurong aborigines who knew it as the river that “flows forever”.
Today, as the riverside lamps warm up the twilight, the terraces on its promenade fill with people who have recently been freed from their jobs.
As we enjoyed for almost an hour on end, determined rowing teams make the rounds of the Yarra, in the good manner of Oxford or Cambridge.
The river also divides competitive Melbourne geographically and socially.
“Crossing the river” is an expression that locals often resort to and reflects the rift that exists between the working-class zones of the north bank – Fitz Roy, Collingwood, Carlton and Brunswick and the aristocrats of the south – Saint Kilda and Prahan .
Real like those of other metropolises, the rivalry has dramatic repercussions. Some inhabitants of these neighborhoods spend months without visiting the other side.
The Almond-eyed Immigrants from the Gold Fever of Vitoria
Those who arrived with Asian origin, these, for the most part try to prosper in the more distant suburbs.
They fight for success, with greater concentration in the southeast of the city and, some of them, business from China in Chinatown, formed in 1850, at the beginning of the emigration to the big island caused by the Victoria's gold rush.
Around that time, along with the almond-eyed miners, investors arrived in brothels, opium parlors, boarding houses and herbalists. Today, as in so many others around the world, the neighborhood is dominated by countless restaurants with roasted ducks hanging outside.
It retains a semi-saloon atmosphere for the sterility standards of the sophisticated center of Melbourne.
Sophisticated Garden Spaces on Both Sides of Rio
During the day, the adjacent green spaces of Birrarung Marr and the Alexandra and Queen Victoria Gardens are authentic playgrounds in which Melbourne photosynthesises.
Then, as night falls, the SouthBank Promenade comes alive in style.
When the oarsmen move away and no boat plows the waters of the Yarra, the water mirror recovers. It offers us the colorful reflection of Flinders Station and its influential Business District.
In the heart of Australia's financial stand, the Eureka Tower, four other of the six tallest buildings in the nation, stands out.
And also five of its biggest companies in terms of market capitalization:
ANZ bank, BHP Billiton (the world's number one mining company) and competitor Rio Tinto, National Bank of Australia and telecommunications company Telstra.
A Quality of Life that Few Other Cities Offer
Not all Melbornians made the fortunes of the owners and top managers of these companies.
Still, most have seen and see a kind of Australian Dream come true.
Villas with carefully landscaped or cultivated backyards and, here and there, close to the “promised” acre (about a thousand square meters) occupy large extensions of the surroundings and define another delightful urban landscape.
The quality of life they provide, made up of successive outdoor moments – reading, barbecues, sports, etc. – is enviable. All this just over an hour from Great Ocean Road and the majestic coastline of the south of the Big Island.
By ferry or plane, also the world apart from Tassie, the other big island in Australia
Contributes to Melbourne being frequently ranked among the five most welcoming cities in the world.
The Easy Integration of Thousands of Asian Newcomers
Asian migrants enjoy hospitality as much as they can. Newly-settled people with immeasurable ambitions for academic and business success tend to fall in love with the city's eclectic atmosphere.
We stroll along Swanston Street and pass Victoria's imposing State Library.
If it weren't for the Victorian architecture, we would be fooled into thinking that we were in some new square in Hong Kong or Taipei.
Such is the number of oriental teenagers enjoying the favorable weather in the front garden.
Inside, the setting repeats itself in the majestic reading rooms of La Trobe and Dome.
Later, when we tried to photograph someone with an unmistakably Aussie look in another part of the city, we despaired and ended up approaching young Asians as well.
Shy but willful.
Mia and Tony are a slender and elegant couple, proud of their modern imagery.
Having arrived from Shanghai, they had been living in the capital of Victoria for some time. His English was still somewhat limited.
Emma, Juliet and Jimmy, three Taiwanese friends returning from university. They also expressed themselves in the Aussie language with much more ease.
They had shared plans to settle down and form families there. “Australia is Australia, confesses Juliet. And Melbourne is a very special Australia. They must have already noticed!”.
Lack of Consensus on Australia's Openness to Immigration
The “asianation” of the big island and Melbourne, in particular, has mixed reactions, rarely indifference.
It is common to hear from older inhabitants the speech of the Old Aussie Homeland in which the entire population was in solidarity and did not suffer from the individualism and ethnic compartmentalization that many consider to undermine, today, the historical soul of the nation.
Opinions like those of journalist George Megalogenis have also become famous: “the Australian navel contemplation on whether the mining boom has ended or simply declined makes us ignore the most important aspect: our future in Asia is that of the best immigration nation… But to prove it, we need more Chinese and Indians who want to settle across the country. Not less."
Even at the sporting level, Australia has needed the Asians to overcome its geological desolation and geographic loneliness. Perth, for example, is considered the most isolated large city on Earth.
Since 1950 it has repeatedly required the FIFA included in the Asian Football Confederation.
Universal football, not the Australian football Melbourne has some of its best teams and biggest stadium.
In 2005, the request was granted.