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Българи в Австралия

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  • Българи в Австралия

    Bulgarians in Australia form one of the smallest ethnic communities, numbering 2279 in 1996. They began to settle in Australia in the late nineteenth century and increased from estimated 14 in 1891 to 525 by the time of 1947 census. The main influxes arrived in the years 1949-51, bringing the number of the Bulgarian-born to 1924 in 1954, and there was another influx in the early 1970s. By 1976 their number had reached a peak of 1743.
    Charles Price (in Southern Europeans in Australia) estimated that in the period 1890-1939, 390 Bulgarian males settled in Australia. Of these, 210 came from about 30 villages in the district of Veliko Turnovo, 70 came from the western part of Shumen district and from the southern part of Russe district, and 110 came from other regions of Bulgaria. The villages in this district are situated in the fertile Danubian plain and among the migrants were the sons of prosperous and rich peasants.

    Early Arrivals
    The first organised group of 100 Bulgarian men arrived in Australia in November 1907, of whom 30 stepped ashore in Port Adelaide, 35 in Melbourne, and the other 35 sailed on to Sydney. Details of their arrival were recorded later in the diary of Vasil Staev, who arrived in 1912. Staev and Peter Docheff became the first tomato growers in Murray Bridge, South Australia.
    In the following years Bulgarian migrants continued to spread over the mainland in search of work. Like most of the South Europeans migrants of the time, they were young men, mainly peasants and labourers. There were also a few tradesmen (shoemakers, carpenters and tailors). They preferred unskilled, well-paid jobs which required little training. Hey cut sugar cane in Queensland, they cut timber and made railway sleepers and pitprops in the Southern Tablelands of NSW and in the south-west of Western Australia; they built roads and railways; they worked on farms and mines in at Broken Hill in NSW. Some of the shoemakers managed to find work in their own trade from the outset.
    In the beginning, the Bulgarian migrants favoured South Australia and Western Australia (45 percent and 29 percent respectively were settled there in 1947). Most of those who settled in Adelaide came directly from the villages of the Veliko Turnovo district, a region already known throughout Europe for its horticulture. A whole chain of families originated from one village, Strahilovo. These families established themselves as market-gardeners and tomato growers in the Adelaide suburb of Fulham. The first market-garden was started in 1912, and gradually a prosperous community grew up in the area. A second tomato-growing settlement was established in Virginia, north of Adelaide in the 1960s, as land in Fulham was subdivided. Today there are around 40 Bulgarian families in Virginia.
    In time, after hard work and saving, many migrants felt more economically independent. They then returned to Bulgaria to marry and re-emigrated with their wives. The first to do so was Ilia Ganev who live din Perth. He brought his family from Bulgaria to Australia in 1911, four years after his arrival. By this stage, most immigrants had moved closer to the major cities to obtain better jobs and to be closer to compatriots. With the exception of Adelaide, they did not from group settlements.
    Migrant with skill and trade often went into business with on their own. In Melbourne one of the two Bulgarian-owned shoe factories employed 50-60 workers, and in Sydney one employed 20-30. They also opened milk bars, greengroceries and cabinet-making workshops. A few market gardens were started on the outskirts of Sydney and Melbourne. Near Perth, Mihal Georgiev became a prosperous sheep farmer, wheat grower and also road builder. In Townsville Peter Philipov started an ice-cream factory and later also became a large property owner.
    Post Second World War Migration
    After the end of Second World war the number of Bulgarians in Australia more than doubled, from 525 in 1947 to 1224 in 1954. Bulgarian Displaced Persons from Europe were the first to come in 1949. These were followed by a steady stream of political refugees who fled the communist regime in Bulgaria. Like the pre-war migrants most were young men, but there were also very young boys and girls and some older men and women from villages and towns all over the country and from all walks of life. South Australia maintained the largest proportion of Bulgarians, although by this time the proportion has fallen to 33 percent, from 45 percent in 1947. NSW and Victoria were becoming more attractive, with about 25 percent and 20 percent respectively choosing to settle there.
    This wave of immigrants included many with secondary and tertiary level education. A survey of 130 migrants who came to Sydney between 1949 and 1961 showed 14 civil engineers, 3 architects, two lawyers, one agronomist, one dentist, 15 university students who have been prevented from completing their studies for political reasons, 40 with high-school education and the remainder with intermediate-school education. Six of these migrants obtained their degrees in Australia.
    After they had completed the two year work contract assigned to all Displaced persons, Bulgarians found jobs more suitable to their qualification and skills. Most of the engineers and architects went to work for the Government in the Public Work Department, the Electricity Commission and the Snowy Mountains Hydro-Electric Scheme. This scheme also attracted many skilled and semi-skilled Bulgarian migrants, who worked there for a long time. Others started work as laboratory assistants, technical officers and scientists at universities and Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) and as surveyors for the Water Board. Like the pre-war migrants, they also engaged in occupations such as market-gardening and poultry farming, and worked in the retail trades, real estate agencies and as builders.

    Migration After 1975
    After 1975 economic migrants outnumbered the political ones. This time they were well-educated and came from large cities of Bulgaria, especially Sofia, along with their wives and children. The collapse of communism in 1989 was followed by the exodus of around 650000 young Bulgarians. Since then, the majority of migrants coming to Australia have university degrees, are married and some have children. As shown in a survey of 172 migrants in Sydney, 155(90 percent) of them were holding one, two or three degrees in all field of science, art and commerce. The highest number of professionals being the engineers (72), followed by mathematicians (10), doctors (9), philologists (5), physicists (5), geophysicists (4), chemists (4) and dentists (4). A similar survey in Melbourne of 83 migrants showed that 73 (88 percent) had university degrees and the highest number was also the engineers (32) followed by physicists (4), mathematicians (3) and doctors (3). Most of these migrants work in their own professions. Numbers of mathematicians, electronic and computer engineers are involved in the research and development of computerised systems fro science, telecommunication and finance. Bulgarians are widely dispersed throughout Australia. According to 1996 census Bulgarian-born migrants were living in every state of Australia: 697 in NSW, 755 in Victoria, 236 in Queensland, 371 in South Australia, 157in Western Australia, 9 in Tasmania, 13 in the Northern Territory and 41 in ACT. By 1998 this number has increased by several hundred.
    Despite their geographical dispersion and small numbers, they have managed to form organisations and build churches since the end of Second World War. In Adelaide, the Bulgarian Educational and Friendly Society was established in 1949, a community hall was built in 1958 and the Bulgarian Eastern Orthodox Church of Sv.Petka was consecrated in 1973; an ethnic school provided training and dance groups and in 1977 a Bulgarian Radio Program commenced on station 5EBI FM. In Melbourne, the Bulgarian and Macedonians together built their Bulgarian-Macedonian Church St,Cyril and Methodius. Later the Bulgarians formed the Bulgarian-Australian society Rodina and established the Bulgarian Eastern Orthodox church st.Ivan Rilski. In Sydney, the Bulgarian cultural, Social and Patriotic Association Rodina, originally found in 1979 was reconstituted in 1979 and organises social and cultural functions fro the community. Two quarterly periodical magazines Zavet and Osvobojdenie were also published.
    The best known Bulgarians to have risen to prominence is Stefan Kaneff, professor of engineering physics in Australian National University (ANU), who has contributed to original research in solar energy. The Western Australian philanthropist George Geneff migrated from Bulgaria with his family as a youth.

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