What can we learn from Australia’s diversifying cities?
Of the world’s more developed countries, Australia is the most multicultural. Over one quarter of all Australians were born overseas, and this number seems to keep growing. Australia continues to attract people from around the globe, especially from across Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. The result is that Australia has two of the most culturally diverse cities in the world, with people, languages, foods, and more from near and far. On the other hand, while Sydney and Melbourne keep diversifying, the rest of the primarily less urbanized, parts of the country remain relatively homogeneous, often leading to a difference of perspective and political opinion.
Sydney and Melbourne are incredible places to explore what modern multiculturalism can look like. The demographic extremes in Australia, combined with similar history to the United States, make for an incredible environment for Americans to think about different versions of diversity. Down under we will taste some of the diverse foods these cities offer and get a feeling for the lifestyle and neighborhoods that define these places. And of course, along the way we can take in the amazing sights of Sydney Harbor, peruse the laneways of Melbourne, shop at Queen Vic market, and even try some locally grown spices on a rooftop farm.
Sydney is Australia’s largest and most iconic city. Starting our Australian journey in “the Harbour City,” we will immerse ourselves in the different neighborhoods, organizations, and communities that make Sydney so cosmopolitan.
From an exploration of the historic Rocks District to a home-style dinner with fresh local herbs in Thai Town, the different districts of the city will come alive. We will travel by train, bus, and ferry around the city paying a visit to the Sydney Opera House and passing over and under the famed Harbour Bridge.
We will get out of the center to visit the beach areas and the stunning seaside neighborhoods as we walk along the coastal trail starting at Bondi beach. Here along the coast we can also get a taste for one of the great equalizers in the country as we see families enjoying the sun and the sand.
Melbourne, one of the world’s most liveable cities, is also Australia’s fastest growing place. Melbourne absorbs the largest share of immigrants in the country. As more and more people move to the city, its identity continues to evolve. With progressive leadership and a deep connection with multiculturalism, Melbourne is the perfect place to continue our trip.
We will start our time in the core of Melbourne. We will dig into the local markets, like the famous Queen Victoria market in the city center, as well as some of the humongous Asian food markets further out. We will visit some of the different neighborhoods in the central business district and have an Italian feast at one of the city’s oldest restaurants. We will get lost exploring the street art, amazing cafes, and cool shops of the many laneways in Melbourne and pay a visit to some of the diverse urban farms.
We will also take a day trip out towards Churchill and Phillip island to explore how rural life contrasts with lifestyles in the cities, and specifically learn about Australia’s connection to the American Civil War. We will also pay a visit to the famous nightly penguin parade to see the fairy penguins return to nest on shore.
In Melbourne (and Sydney) we will also connect with a variety of organizations and government representatives who are working to address issues of diversity for the city and helping to support its different communities. These meetings can be shaped based on the specific focus of the program your group chooses to focus on.
In addition to spending time in Sydney and Melbourne, we may add a stop in Canberra, the capital of Australia, to explore the topic of migration or multiculturalism from a governance perspective. If we stop in Canberra we can also add a road trip and visit other less urban parts of the country to more deeply examine the contrast between multiculturalism in cities versus rural areas.
There are many different approaches and lenses we can apply to this trip that will shape the experience to your needs. From a specific project or problem you are considering at your school or organization, we can tailor this itinerary to align with the specific issues and skills you want to explore.
In addition to focusing on cultural diversity, we can also approach Australian growth from an engineering and design perspective and think specifically about economic diversity and inclusive urban planning. There are also other Australian cities and sites we can suggest, like heading to Brisbane in Queensland, or even a visit to Uluru to deepen our understanding of Aboriginal history.
While we think Australia is an incredible destination for high school students, groups of all ages can have a meaningful experience confronting questions about multiculturalism in some of our other favorite destinations too, such as Spain, Greece, or Hawaii.