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Connections with Thailand date back to 1881, when Western District horses purchased for King Mongkut were shipped through Melbourne. In 1927 a brother of King Vajiravudh visited on a study tour, but the basis for a small Thai community was laid when several monarchist families settled following the 1932 coup. Kulap in Oz (1996), the memoirs of Kulap Saipradit, presents a penetrating view of 1940s Melbourne life. The growing number of Thai students in Melbourne has reflected Thailand's increasing wealth. By 2001 nearly half of the approximately 5000 Thais in Melbourne - many settling in eastern suburbs including Waverley, Hawthorn and Clayton - had come in the previous five years. The presence of Thai immigrants is reflected in the number of restaurants spread throughout the city, increasing from only a handful in the mid-1980s to around 150 in 2000.

Justin Corfield