It may surprise you to learn that two of the crew onboard Lieutenant James Cook’s Endeavour – the ship that landed in what is now Botany Bay, Sydney in 1770 – were Italians. Yes, these plucky chaps were in all likelihood the first Italians to set foot on this beautiful island. Yet, despite a steady trickle of their compatriots arriving during the following couple of centuries, the Italian community as we know it today did not really start to lay roots until the mid-20th century post WWII years. In fact, the Italians arriving on these shores from 1949-2000 were outnumbered only by the British and the Irish.
But even before the 1950s, enterprising members of the immigrant Italian community to had begun to open restaurants. Melbourne, with its growing and hungry population of expats, soon claimed the title of ‘Italian capital of Australia’, and that’s why many of the pioneering establishments were and are very close to here.
Italian food, like the community, has always and will always play a vital role in the Australian food and restaurant industries. As the community has surpassed one million, Italians restaurants are firmly established as pillars of culinary excellence across the country. And of course, even the timeless Aussie pub favourite – the delicious Chicken Parma – has its roots firmly in our motherland.