Toowoomba's Lebanese Families Proud

Article excerpt

Byline: Kate Dodd kate.dodd@thechronicle.com.au

LEBANESE people have called the Toowoomba and Darling Downs regions home since the last two decades of the nineteenth century and many of those people are proud of the fact.

According to the president of the Australian Lebanese Historical Society Incorporated, Anne Monsour, the first of the Lebanese migrants came to Australia in the last two decades of the nineteenth century.

She said most of those who came to Australia were Maronite, Melkite and Orthodox Christians and they often came in large family groups of, on average, four to six children, sometimes even more.

Ms Monsour said the Toowoomba and Darling Downs region was always an important area of settlement and the concentration of Lebanese in Toowoomba matched that of Brisbane.

She said the immigrants chose to live in close proximity to each other, gathering in areas such as James St in Toowoomba and South Brisbane's Woolloongabba and West End.

aConsequently, those immigrants in Brisbane and Toowoomba were able to sustain some aspects of Lebanese culture, such as social and religious rituals,a Ms Monsour said.

The first registered Lebanese immigrant on record was Joseph Toomi, in 1890. He was a registered hawker in Leyburn.

Ms Monsour said by 1900, 46 Lebanese appeared in records as working and living in Toowoomba and Warwick.

aA few of these people were farming, while most were hawking and shopkeeping,a Ms Monsour said.

aWhile we will never know why the original immigrants chose to settle in particular places, for later immigrants the choice was often predetermined by the location of relatives or friends from their home village. …