Darwin’s Pearl Divers

Eighty percent of Darwin, Australia’s Greek community are descended from the first Greek settlers there from the island of Kalymnos. Although the migration first began in the early 19th century, it boomed in the 1950s due to the Australian government’s mass migration scheme and its plan to recruit Kalymnian sponge divers to work in the local pearling industry. The Greek island of Kalymnos is best known as home of some of the world’s finest sponge divers—sponges are referred to locally as Kalymnian Gold—and after WWII an influx of sponge divers arrived in Darwin to work on pearling luggers. According to researchers at Charles Darwin University in Australia’s Northern Territory, over the next two decades Kalymnians would come to dominate Darwin’s Greek population as they moved into the construction industries and small business.

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