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Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland

Finns in Australia and the region - Embassy of Finland, Canberra : Finland in the region : Finnish immigrants


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Finns in Australia

The first Finn known to have visited Australia was Turku-born Herman Dietrich Spöring who sailed as a draughtsman and scientist on Captain James Cook's first voyage to the Antipodes in 1770. Spöring's drawings from that voyage are now part of the collections of the British Museum in London. In Canberra, there is a street named after him.

The first Finnish immigrants came to Australia in the 1850's to work in the gold mines of Victoria. More arrived in the next decades but the next larger wave of immigrants only arrived in the 1920's. The Finns, used to hard physical labor, were in search of a better life and were particularly sought after to work in the sugar cane fields and mines of Northern Queensland.

The second wave, some 20 000 Finns, came after the Second World War, again looking for a better life. Their immigration was encouraged and even assisted financially by Australia. Many of them came to work in construction and mining. With improving economic prospects at home and the end of assisted passage by Australia Finnish immigration petered out in the early 1970's. Since then it has mostly been professionals of various kinds (expatriates) who have migrated to Australia, often on a temporary basis.

Today there are approximately 30 000 people in Australia who claim Finnish descent.

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Updated 12/14/2015

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