Why do people emigrate to Australia

Why so many Germans are drawn to Australia

In the past it was gold diggers, today it is mainly young backpackers who make long journeys around the globe to see Australia. The first Germans moved to the fifth continent 225 years ago. In the meantime, offers to combine travel and work (Work & Travel) are particularly popular with young people - they go on a journey of discovery with them in the distance. The German Emigration Center in Bremerhaven is now shedding light on what makes Australia so special. A special exhibition has opened there, which for the first time describes the history of German immigration on the fifth continent and does not ignore dark chapters. The show is entitled "Germans in Australia, 1788 - today" and can be seen until March 2, 2014.

"The longing for adventure and freedom is associated with Australia," said museum director Simone Eick. Today, according to her, over 90 percent of the population living in Australia are of European descent. More than 900,000 of the approximately 22 million Australians had German roots.

First colony in Sydney

The first European immigrants reached Australia in 1788 and established a convict colony in Sydney Bay. The commander of the incoming fleet and governor of the colony, Captain Arthur Phillip, was the son of a Frankfurt bookseller who worked as a language teacher in London. However, the Europeans were not the first to immigrate to Australia. Aboriginal people from New Guinea settled the continent more than 40,000 years ago.

In most cases it took 24 weeks to sail from Bremerhaven to Australia. The arduous and often dangerous journey was undertaken in the middle of the 19th century, mainly by young men who dreamed of getting rich quickly. The gold of the fifth continent had lured many of them to the other end of the world from 1850 onwards. It brought modern mass immigration to the country, which is rich in natural resources, which was followed by an unprecedented boom.

German immigration reached its peak with the 1952 recruitment agreement between Germany and Australia. "At that time, over 80,000 Germans came," reported museum director Eick. Almost 30 percent failed and returned, most stayed. Today it is especially young Germans who come down under with Work & Travel - after all, more than 150,000 since the beginning of the decade.

kle / nem (epd, dpa, www.dah-bremerhaven.de)