With Indian-Australians expected to overtake Brits as our dominant migrant group in the next five years, experts recommend understanding them beyond the prism of ‘curry, cricket and the Commonwealth’.


It’s grey, gloomy and wet on this wintry Sunday in Rowville, on the industrial eastern edge of Melbourne’s suburban sprawl. But inside a warehouse behind the Australian Indian Community Centre, things are heating up. The smell of sweat and saffron rice mixes in the air, and the stereo is so loud, none of the 170 or so dancers can hear anything but the cacophonous assault of continuous Hindi music.

We’re halfway through a six-hour dress rehearsal for an amateur Bollywood spectacular – an explosion of sequined skirts and head-wobbles and henna hands – which grows steadily more glittery and raucous, like a fireworks display approaching its crescendo. It’s then that a dozen kids in white satin saris march through the complex shouting “Vande Mataram!” , which loosely translated means “I praise my motherland!”

Another translation is “Long live India!” – and the sentiment is not misplaced. The first tranche of data from the 2021 census recently confirmed that Australia is now the first English-speaking country in the world to be a “migrant majority” nation – where 50 per cent of the population were born overseas or have an immigrant parent. And the biggest story within those numbers? India.

Click here for full story from Good Weekend on Saturday August 13, 2022.

Photography by Josh Robenstone.