1. Themes
  2. A to Z


The very first non-indigenous Melburnians included Mauritian Marie Emilie Blanchard, the wife of Frederick Manton (1799-1867), builder of Port Phillip's first iron steamers (Fairy Queen and Vesta) who arrived in 1839, and six Mauritian convicts, briefly held in the Melbourne Gaol in 1843. Organised companies of Mauritians arrived during the gold rush, including Léon Burguez (grandfather of the painter Lloyd Rees) and Théophile Lionnet. They joined other francophones in patronising Antoine Fauchery's Café Estaminet in Little Collins Street in 1857, and were noted by Oscar Comettant among the 500 members of the French Society of Victoria in 1890. Charles Adrien Bonnefin (1878-1915), a Mauritian-born Melburnian, was killed in action at Gallipoli while serving with the 2nd Battalion, 1st Infantry Brigade of the Australian Imperial Force.

After Federation, Mauritians were subject to racist immigration regulations; in 1912, for example, Charles Belcourt was arrested in Carlton, and, although fluent in English and French, was given the infamous dictation test in German and Spanish before being deported. Some, such as the Commins/Lionnet family and the mother of rock singer Garry 'Angry' Anderson, who were able to prove European ancestry, settled in Melbourne after World War II, but significant immigration did not begin until the relaxation of the White Australia Policy in 1966 and Mauritian independence in 1968. With around 8000 settlers, Melbourne now has more Mauritians than any other Australian city. The major community organisations are the Stella Clavisque Club, the Victorian Mauritian Association, the Mauritian Service Association and the Rodriguan and Mauritian Social Club. Many also belong to the Alliance Française.

Edward Duyker

Duyker, Edward, Of the star and the key: Mauritius, Mauritians and Australia, Australian Mauritian Research Group, Sydney, 1988. Details