Hinduism arrived in mid-19th-century Melbourne via Indian crews, banished offenders and 'coolie' labourers from British India recruited to help pastoralists cultivate the hinterlands, mineworkers, domestic servants and Sikh camel-drivers. Most 'Hindoos' left rural areas to become hawkers and town merchants but a firm base for Hindu practices did not emerge in the city due to immigration restrictions. The city opal stores operated by the Pammamull family jewellers provide evidence of a Hindu presence in that period. A court challenge by Carlton Hindu merchants spurred a campaign in 1922 by the visiting Hindu diplomat Srinivasa Shastri, winning franchise and civil concessions for resident Indians. They engaged privately in festive celebrations with Hindu gurus visiting their Anglo converts.
Melbourne's first Hindu-styled temple was established by the Hare Krishnas, in St Kilda. Ashrams or yoga-meditation centres soon dotted the inner suburbs. The number of Hindus settling in Melbourne dramatically increased in the mid-1960s, and tripled with increased migration of South Asian Hindus in the following decade. In the 1980s two major temples (and a parallel Sikh Gurudwara) were erected in the suburbs. The Carrum Downs edifice features major Hindu gods and goddesses in elegantly sculptured shrines inside a large ceremonial hall.