Multicultural community invited to connect and share
  • Tuesday 05 July 2016
ImageThe Sunshine Coast’s multicultural community has embraced the opportunity to share its rich culture by joining the Multicultural Conversations project, a collaboration between council and its partners.

Mayor Mark Jamieson said the Sunshine Coast has a diverse and growing multicultural population with one in every five people born overseas representing 156 countries, 45 faiths and 96 languages.

“There is no doubt our people and their diversity contribute to the colourful social fabric of the Coast,” Mayor Jamieson said.

“I had the honour of recently launching the state-government funded Multicultural Conversations project which provides a community engagement platform for council and partners to understand and address barriers to participation and social inclusion within the multicultural community.

“Importantly, the Multicultural Conversations project provides an opportunity for our multicultural community to share their rich culture and diversity and participate in an online survey.”

One story that has already been discovered during the Sunshine Coast Multicultural Conversations Program is that of the Donadel family who owned a successful farm producing bananas and pineapples in Mooloolah Valley.

Born in 1923, Mario Donadel travelled from Italy to Australia at the age of 13, with his twin sister Maria and his mother Lucia after taking nearly four months to travel to Australia by ship. The family then travelled from Sydney to join Antonio Donadel on a farm near Alstonville.

Mario was sent to an Australian school for a short period of time to learn English which he found extremely beneficial as he started to work.

Mario worked hard for his father and at the age of 16 he found a job at one of the neighbour’s farms cutting bananas. The farmer offered him a place to stay so he didn’t have to travel to and from work. Mario’s home was a three by five metre packing shed with a tin roof. He made a bed out of hessian bags and had a cooking pot made out of half a five gallon drum with the other half used as a basin. Mario was very grateful for this opportunity so he did not complain about his living quarters.

As a reward for his hard work, Mario received a small parcel of land on which he planted his own bananas. He continued to work hard and in three years he had paid his property off.

Mario heard of land available via the Department of Primary Industry who were looking for farmers to introduce banana crops in South-East Queensland.

A 140 acre parcel of land in Mooloolah was too expensive for him to buy on his own so he and his father decided to buy the land together.

In 1945, Mario and his dad cut 500 of their banana suckers from their previous farm and loaded them onto their Morris Commercial and headed to Mooloolah where it is believed they were some of the first farmers to introduce Cavendish bananas to South-East Queensland.

Mario’s farm prospered as it was very rich in timber and consisted of cattle, milking cows and the farm house had a small market garden that could feed a big family.

In 1949, at one of the local dances, Mario met an Italian couple who lived in the Glenview area who spoke of a friend Laura living in Italy. They convinced Mario to write to Laura and after one year of corresponding they agreed to be married.

Because Laura had to be married before she could come to Australia, and Mario didn’t have the money to travel back to Italy to meet Laura, they were married by proxy; Mario was 29-years-old and Laura 20-years-old.

Mario introduced pineapples to the farm which was successful and required him to employ three Australians and also sponsor two Italian gentlemen to come to Australia.

Mario sold the farm in 1972 and moved to Nambour and found a job working as the gardener at the Nambour General Hospital. He was responsible for two hectares of gardens which included all the hospital house and flat gardens in town.

After 15 years of tender loving care of the hospital’s gardens, Mario retired.

Leaving a lasting legacy on those who were lucky enough to meet him, Mario passed away on June 4, 2006.

This is just one of the many stories of the multicultural community that makes the Sunshine Coast so much richer.

The Multicultural Conversations program is funded by the Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services through the Celebrating Multicultural Queensland Grants Program.

To join the conversation, head to council’s website and complete the online survey by July 24.