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Saturday, March 7: Day 320 – Room with A View

We went to the Immigration Museum which used to be the Customs House. It served as a clearing house for immigrants. In some ways, it was like Ellis Island in the USA.

More than nine million people have immigrated to Australia since 1788. More have tried and failed.

Why do people immigrate?

  • Diaster such as famine, earthquakes, etc.
  • A better life – promise of gold, housing, sacrifice area that you know
  • Freedom – Jews, lost rights
  • Family – reunited, proxy marriages
  • War and Conflict – boat people

The boat people from Vietnam were trying to get to Australia. They had to pay the communists to get on a boat built for 600 people. There were 1,100 when they set out on the rough seas. A survivor said that the communists didn’t care about them and, in fact, didn’t even want them to survive.

The primary role of customs officers was to calculate the tariff payable on goods imported into Victoria. The term was derived from the ransom demanded by the pirates of Cape Tariffe.

When immigrants arrived over the years, they were given a diction test. This was in any European language that the tester wanted. A Swedish man who knew three languages was given the test in Celtic. He failed.

There have been many attempts at trying to control who can be an Australian citizen such as the Immigration Restriction Act and White Australia of 1973. At one time, only immigrants from British colonies were admitted. At another time all Chinese were denied immigration.

They have had to wrestle with the issue of national identity while increasing the population, developing a workforce and responding to global humanitarian needs. Here are the questions they had and had to be answered:

  1. What kind of society do we want?
  2. Is Australia a southern outpost of British culture? Or is its identity bound to Asia and the Pacific?
  3. Is there a ‘typical’ Australian? Or does the very idea of ‘typical’ deny the diversity of our society?
  4. How does Aboriginal identity fit into the idea of Australia as an immigrant nation?
  5. Can different cultures maintain their identities while participating in a national identity?

Despite their past, Australia has embraced a multicultural existence. Melbourne has the most Holocaust survivors per capita than anywhere else in the world outside of Israel. Melbourne has the largest population of Greeks outside of Greece.

First Impression

This was a separate exhibit that dealt with first impressions.

  • What we are called – our names

  • Where we are from – country
  • The way we look – eyes, hair, skin color

  • What we say and how we say it

Once a person reaches the age of 20, the accent doesn’t change much.

  • What we eat – packed lunches

  • What we wear – uniforms

  • Who fits in and who doesn’t – membership

The us and them mentality starts young. We all want to belong. What may seem normal to one person is different to another. Why is that? Can’t different be good or a surprise or unexpected or challenging?

I am going to a Toby Mac concert in May. He is a popular Christian singer/rapper and a champion of diversity in his life and music. He was asked, “Is it wrong for a Christian to not have friends from different races?” His reply, “No, but why wouldn’t you want to surround yourself with diversity? Your life is richer for it.” Amen to that.


I am not a fan of tattoos. I love natural skin!! However, there was an interesting photographic exhibition on tattoos called Immigration Granulation.

When skin is tattooed, it undergoes a process called granulation. Capillary vessels form small beads, as new connective tissue forms over the wound.

Similarly, when jewelry is made, gold is heated into capillary reactions and the resulting beads are formed into decorative patterns.

Immigration Granulation asks: Is the tattoo an irreversible mark whereas the jewelry can be taken off OR is the tattoo a temporary mark that will inevitably perish whereas the jewelry outlives us and is passed on to the next generation? And hence, are migrations temporary or permanent journeys? Hmmmm.

It is always interesting to walk the busy streets of a metropolitan area. One never knows what will be discovered.

There were so many weddings. We saw five brides in about 10 minutes getting photographs on their big day. Here are a few shots that I managed to get…and I’m not even a professional.

Our tour guide told us to go to the bathroom on the 35th floor of the Sofitel to get a great pictures of the city. Hmmm.

We have arrived at the elegant Sofitel Hotel in our rental car.

Just kidding!!

Here is Rob’s real dream car…a one seater!!!

Formula One cars are in Melbourne gearing up for the Grand Prix.

We arrived at the beautiful hotel. This is a view looking up and we are already on the 35th floor.

Would a picture window in the restrooms be called a room with a view?? Who has the view????

I don’t understand why that would be?? I guess there are no Peeping Toms? Also, it feels weird to have your camera snapping pictures in a bathroom.


Laneways are really alleys that were used to make deliveries. Now they are shops in their own right and even extend out in the street. We had lunch along this street and, believe it or not, we ate outdoors in the hustle and bustle.

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