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Melbourne, Victoria

Melbourne (Victoria) has the Australia's most lively Lithuanian community.

It is centered on Lithuanian House (a.k.a. Lithuanian Club) in North Melbourne (44 Errol St.). Its modest high street facade hides a massive atmospheric old-style interior. These premises were acquired by Lithuanians ~1960 (after the refugees who fled the Soviet occupation had settled down).

The entrance of the Melbourne Lithuanian House / Club, adorned by Columns of Gediminas symbol. ©Augustinas Žemaitis.

The largest room is the Lithuanian theater of ~300 seats. Famous for good sound quality it hosts not only Lithuanian performances and events. It is regularly rented out for gigs by non-Lithuanian Australian musicians during the Melbourne Fringe festival.

Melbourne Lithuanian theater as it is seen from the balcony. ©Augustinas Žemaitis.

The club also houses a Lithuanian restaurant (open on Sundays), a ballroom, many Lithuanian-inspired decorations as well as memorabilia of Lithuanian-Australian community events. Lithuanian-Australian organizations of Melbourne have their HQs in the Lithuanian Club. Another part of the building is rented out to another (non-Lithuanian) restaurant.

A Lithuanian-inspired art inside the Melbourne Lithuanian Club. The paintings on right and left are both based on the Lithuanian tricolor flag (yellow-green-red). The middle Picture shows a memorial for Lithuanians murdered and exiled by Soviet Lithuanian regime - which was the reason that gave birth to Melbourne Lithuanian refugee community. Images by ©Augustinas Žemaitis.

Before the era of Lithuanian Club, the premises were used by Methodists.

The long corridors of Melbourne Lithuanian Club include Lithuanian ethnic symbols and art, such as the traditional wooden cross (Lithuanian cross-making is UNESCO World Heritage). Image by ©Augustinas Žemaitis.

Lithuanians lack their own church in Melbourne (Australia's sole Lithuanian church stands in Adelaide) as Australia once limited ethnic parishes promoting assimilation. However, they do have a parish house with a Lithuanian chapel at 18 Henry Street (acquired in 1956 10 14). Lithuanian language masses also used to be held in a non-Lithuanian church. Since 2021, these Masses have been transferred to the chapel. The chapel has a modest but Lithuanian-inspire dinterior with a traditional Lithuanian chapel-post, and an image of Our Lady of Vilnius.

Inside the Lithuanian parish house chapel of Melbourne

Inside the Lithuanian parish house chapel of Melbourne

Melbourne immigration museum has some Lithuanian exhibits. The nearby Sandbridge bridge over the Yarra river is adorned by plaques detailing the origin of Australia's immigrant communities, among them Lithuanians.

As the plaques list communities by countries of origin rather than by ethnic groups, Lithuania's Jews (Litvaks) are also mentioned on the same plaque. A large share of the descendants of pre-war Jewish migrants from Lithuania live in St. Kilda district. However, they have assimilated into a wider Melbourne's Jewish community.

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Geelong, Victoria

The city of Geelong near Melbourne has a Lithuanian House. The current Lithuanian House is located in the Petit Park. This building was leased to the Lithuanian community by the municipality after the original Lithuanian House (Duoro St.) burned down in 1997.

Lithuanian House in Petit Park, Geelong

Lithuanian House in Petit Park, Geelong

Geelong also has a street named after Kaunas city in its Bell Park suburb. That suburb has been developed after World War 2, at the time immigrants were arriving there from Europe. There are thus streets with names reminding of their homelands: next to Kaunas street, there is Libau street (named after the Latvian city of Liepaja), Tallinn street (named after the Estonian capital), Vistula street (named after Poland's largest river).

Kaunas Street in Geelong

Kaunas Street in Geelong

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