‘It brings everyone together’: The multicultural side of Melbourne’s Antipodes

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Walking through Lonsdale Street in Melbourne, Victoria this Saturday you felt like you were part of something big. As every year, the annual Antipodes event was more than just a Greek festival that aimed to bring the Greek community together.

Yes, the smell of souvlaki and Greek coffee was there, as was the big stage with the traditional Greek dancers performing in front of an awed crowd and of course, the lyrics of Alkistis’ famous songs spreading from mouth to mouth. What was even more important though was the fact that people from all different cultures and backgrounds had a unique opportunity to explore Greek tradition.

Andrian, who is eating with his family in front of a Cypriot BBQ stand, was born in Australia but his roots are from China. At the last Antipodes festival, which took place some months ago, he missed the opportunity to taste the stand’s food, because he had come late. Today he was in line from early morning.

“We normally go to Oakleigh street with some Greek friends, but this is closer,” he says to The Greek Herald. “What is special about this festival is first the food, second the vibe and the overall Greek culture.”

Next to them, a multicultural group of friends are tasting souvlaki too. They come from Germany, Sri Lanka and Hong Kong. When it comes to Greece, the things that first come to their minds are “history and the way the Greeks value their tradition and families.”

“Last year the festival was amazing but every year it gets bigger and bigger. The atmosphere is good, you smell the food, the stage with the dancers is amazing,” they said.

The youngest kid of the group leaves his food for a moment and yells: “I love it here!”

Further down the road, we meet Brendan from the Fijian islands.

“I came to Australia last week. This event happens only once in a year. It’s the first time I’ve come here and it feels really amazing. I had the chance to try multiple stuff from Greece. I’ve seen the dancers, everything is traditional and it feels really great to be here. I also tried Greek yoghurt, it was really good!” he said.

Sandy, who is Chinese, said that she has a special love for Greek yoghurt too.

“I don’t know Greek culture that much, only Greek yoghurt!” she said laughing. “It is my first time here at the Antipodes Festival. I love the BBQ and the dancing on stage. My baby went to dance up on the stage with the dancers, it was so cute.”

For Russel it was the music that drew him first, even though the frappe that he later tried was the highlight of his day. “I just went for a walk, I that saw the festival was happening and I thought ‘Lets check it out! Everything is exciting here today.”

What does he love the most about Greek culture? “I don’t think I can narrow down to one thing, but the fact that it brings everyone together is the best thing. And that’s what people will come here for, the scene of the community.”

*All photos copyright The Greek Herald / Giorgos Psomiadis / Andriana Simos.

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