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German-speakers in Australia


There have been five main phases of German-speaking immigration in Australia:

dot point Settlement by groups (especially in the colony of South Australia) in the early-mid 19th century
(See a photo of a passenger ticket for a passage to Port Adelaide from 1846.)
dot point The Gold Rush era in the mid-19th century
dot point The arrival of large numbers of settlers in the colony of Queensland from the 1860s up to 1914
dot point The arrival of refugees (including German and Austrian Jews fleeing Nazi persecution) in the late 1930s and the 1940s
dot point The planned migration (promoted by the Australian government) of the 1950s and 1960s

(Based on: Germans in South Australia. A Migration Museum Education Program for Students in Years 8-12. Migration Museum Adelaide 1994)

Image: Hamburg harbour
Emigrants embarking in Hamburg, circa 1850. (Museum für Hamburgische Geschichte)

In 1861 (the first year in which the census recorded nationality) the colonies NSW, Victoria, Queensland and S.A. had 26,872 people who were born in Germany.
In 1891 there were 45,000 German-born people in Australia. The two World Wars had a big effect on German immigration.
In 1947 there were 14,567 German-born people in Australia. Then masses of Germans were part of the Australian Government's big immigration program in the 1950s and 1960s.
In 1961 Australia had 109,315 German-born people.
In 1981 there were 110,758 people in Australia born in Germany.
According to some estimates, more than 10% of Australia's population is of German descent.

Photo: emigration ship
Young German emigrant Leon on the Castel Felice in 1956 with Mrs Margaret Dietiker, an escort officer for the Intergovernmental Committee for European Migration.
(Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs photograph, Cat. # 56/4/82)


In the 19th century 80% of Germans in Australia lived in rural areas. Now more than two-thirds of Australia's German-born people live in the large cities.

Although the early German settlers were found in all parts of Australian society, some settlements (especially in S.A. and Queensland) developed in which German customs and traditions were very strong in the community. In these settlements the Germans' membership of the Lutheran Church strengthened their community spirit.

German immigrants have made a large contribution to Australia's economic and cultural life.

Australians of German descent: sport

In all walks of life you can find high-profile Australians with German surnames. Aussies love sport, and German surnames are there too, e.g.:

Rachel Sporn

Jason Arnberger, Michael Klinger (Victoria), Andy Bichel, Carl Rackemann, Scott Muller, Ashley Noffke (Queensland), Darren Lehmann (South Australia), Ben Hilfenhaus ["Bradman Young Cricketer of the Year" Award, 2007] (Tasmania)

Photo: various newspapers and magazines (copyright: D Nutting)

Australia's national cricket team celebrates a great achievement by the Tasmanian Ben Hilfenhaus in a Test match against South Africa, and a newspaper makes a word pun with his German name in the caption.

AFL football:
Stewart Loewe, Fraser Gehrig [Gehrigs were among the many German arrivals in the area around Albury, New South Wales, in the middle of the 19th century], Nick Riewoldt, Troy Schwarze, Adam Schneider, Carl Ditterich (St Kilda); Jack Riewoldt, Trent Knobel, Danny Meyer (Richmond); Michael Voss [Brownlow Medal 1996], Justin Leppitsch, Matthew Leuenberger (Brisbane); Brian Beinke, Martin Mattner, Trent Hentschel, Nathan Bock, Matthew Bode, Darren Pfeiffer, Daniel Schell, Jacob Schuback (Adelaide Crows); David Schwarz, Ross Funcke, David Neitz, Jace Bode (Melbourne); Andrew Schauble, Tim Schmidt (Sydney Swans); Wayne Schimmelbusch (North Melbourne); Tyson Stenglein, Michael Braun (West Coast Eagles); Byron Schammer, Andrew Siegert (Fremantle); David Mensch, Daniel Menzel (Geelong); Matthew Kreuzer [#1 draft pick 2008], Trent Sporn (Carlton); Mitchell Hahn (Western Bulldogs); Shaun Rehn, Luke Breust, Nick Ries (Hawthorn); Brett Ebert, Justin Westhoff, Matthew Lobbe (Port Adelaide); Kyle Reimers, Jason Winderlich (Essendon); John Schultz [Brownlow Medal 1960], Luke Dahlhaus (Footscray / Western Bulldogs)

Mark Schwarzer (Socceroos)

Katrin Garfoot (from Queensland, member of team Jayco/Apollo/VIS, champion for 2013 in the Subaru National Road Series); Peter Herzig (from New South Wales, winner of the 'Grafton to Inverell Cycling Classic' 2012); Heinrich Haussler (from New South Wales, individual stage winner at Tour de France 2009 - German father, Australian mother)

Motorbike racing:
Jamie Stauffer (Australian Superbike Series champion, 2006 and 2007)

Jane Altschwager (Hunter Jaegers); Peta Scholz, Kristen Heinrich (Adelaide Thunderbirds)

Sydney Fischer

Jon Sieben - at the Olympic Games in 1984 in Los Angeles he won the gold medal with a new workld record in the 200 m butterfly, and the bronze medal with the 4x100 m medley relay team. He was also a member of the swimming team at the 1988 and 1992 Olympics.
Lauren Arndt - she won the bronze medal in the 10 km race at the Open Water Swimming World Championships in 2004 in Dubai.
Emily Seebohm - in 2008 at age 15 she set a new world record for the 50 m backstroke at the Australian Olympic selection trials (on the next day another Australian broke Emily's record!). In the 100 m backstroke she created a new Commonwealth record (just 0.38 sec behind the world record) and was included in the team for the Beijing Olympics.
Christian Sprenger - in February 2008 he set a new Australian record in the 100 m breaststroke and at the selection trials won a place on the swim team for the Beijing Olympics.
Nick Sprenger - he won a silver medal with the 4x200 m freestyle relay team at the Athens Olympics in 2004.
The Australian swimming team for the 2008 Beijing Olympics included the following German (sur-)names: Emily Seebohm, Nick Sprenger, Christian Sprenger, Andrew Lauterstein, Hayden Stoeckel, Melanie Schlanger.
Marieke Guehrer - world record holder for women's 50 m butterfly [short course / 25 m], 2008-2009; world record holder for 50 m backstroke [short course], 2009

Maybe you can think of other sportsmen and sportswomen...

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