What would Australia be without pizza, spaghetti, fried rice, sushi, butter chicken, croissants, kievs or kebabs? An Australia without international cuisine is unimaginable. 

But that’s not all immigration has given our lucky country. Immigrants bring sorely-needed skills and expertise to our health services. They fill labour shortages in important sectors like agriculture. They offer a fresh perspective, making our communities more diverse and compassionate. 

Between 2016 and 2021, 37,921 people relocated to the Bundaberg Region including 2199 from overseas. Some 13 per cent of our total local population was born overseas. More than five per cent speak a language other than English at home. 

Crush Magazine wrote to a handful of immigrants and asked them why they chose Bundaberg and what they love about living here. 

Alison Kiali-Tanner

“I was born in Papua New Guinea (PNG) and moved to Australia with my family in 1991 when I was 13-years-old. My Dad was offered a job at Burnett Sawmill. I love how Bundaberg people always help each other out when needed.  The beaches in Bundaberg are just breathtaking – by far the best in my opinion. Bundaberg’s tropical climate suited me too as it is almost similar to PNG. I married Corey and joined his wonderful Tanner family, who are of Australian South Sea Islander heritage. The connection in the Tanner family reminded me of my family back home. We have three children and we love rugby league. What I miss most about PNG is our unique traditional Garamut-led Manus dance. It’s such a happy celebration that brings people together. I have been an early childhood educator in Bundaberg for more than 25 years. I love what I do and hope I have made a difference to all the children that have crossed my path.”

Luisa Dornauf

“I am from Mexico. To be honest, I never thought I would visit Australia, let alone live here. I met my Australian husband, Marcus, playing tennis in Texas in the United States. In September 2012 we moved to Australia and lived in Launceston, Tasmania to grow berries on his family’s farm, Hillwood Berries. In January last year we moved to Bundaberg to expand our operations because we can grow berries year-round here. I love the simplicity of life in Bundaberg. It’s amazing to see so many farms – we didn’t hear about that diversity back in Tasmania. We have also met some great people.” 

Hyeyoung (Helen) Park

Helen, a Korean school teacher, met her husband, Moon, right here in Bundaberg. He was a customer at the Korean restaurant she started with the help of her mum in 2013. “She gave me all her recipes,” Helen said. Helen sold her Bourbong Street restaurant and together she and Moon bought Nodaji Sushi on Targo Street, where Moon had been working as the head chef for five years. Before coming to Australia, Moon was a commercial scuba diver with a masters degree in marine biology in Korea. Today, the couple own another three Japanese Korean restaurants in Bargara (Moon Japanese), Spring Hill and West End in Brisbane, and have a six-year-old daughter, Yujoo Lee. “I first came to Australia in 2002 on a working holiday. I missed it so much when I left so I came back. Bundaberg is just so comfortable, slow and easy,” Helen said. 

Mohamed Hussein (Dr Mo)

“Being raised in Ethiopia, our mothers come together and make a feast while some recite the poetry of their home and wear traditional colourful clothes. What I miss the most is definitely the food, but importantly my culture has shaped me into the man I am today where I extend towards the broader community rather than limiting myself to immediate family. I completed my chiropractic studies in New Zealand and in 2014 I accepted a job in a Perth clinic to be closer to my siblings who I had not seen in five years. My wife and I arrived in Bundaberg in 2016 and in 2022 we had our first son. Bundaberg is my very own slice of paradise; the fine balance between city life and small town. I fell in love with the kind-hearted people of Bundaberg. As a chiropractor working in Bundaberg and Gin Gin, I have the opportunity to get to know my patients and understand their specific needs. It’s truly rewarding to be able to help people in my community feel their best.”

Marleen Leleux

Originally from Tournai, one of the oldest cities in Belgium, Marleen is the friendly face behind the counter at Indulge Café. One Belgian tradition she wanted Crush readers to be aware of is shrimp fishing on horseback. “And of course, as a good and respectable Belgium girl, I miss the beer culture where brewing skills and techniques are passed on from generation to generation,” Marleen said. “I arrived in Brisbane in 2016 to learn English just as I was finishing my master’s degree in law. A friend invited me to a birthday party in Bundaberg.” And that’s where she met her now husband, Indulge Café owner Mitchell White. Late last year the couple had their first child, Esmée. “Bundaberg is home to me now. I could not speak highly enough of the town, and that’s why my sister moved here too,” Marleen said. “I want to thank the people of Bundaberg – I progressed so quickly in my English because of this community. Bundaberg is the best place in the world to raise our precious daughter and live my best life.”

PHOTO CREDIT: Paul Beutel, Cassandra Kirk, Danielle Ramage Photography. Supplied.