Team Blitz India
FAR away in a quaint Queensland town, a tiny Kerala is in the making. One will be astonished to know that Malayalam, is the second most commonly spoken foreign language in Townsville, a city in Queensland, Australia. This town close to the Great Barrier Reef has seen a steady surge in the Malayali population in the last 10 years.
As many as 793 people use Malayalam at home, only behind Tagalog, spoken in the Philippines, which is used by 960 people in the city, according to Australian Census 2021. It is a significant 0.4 per cent for an immigrant population.
This city has been witnessing a steady inflow of the Malayali population in the past few years, courtesy of the rising demand for nurses in Australia. Townsville’s strong bond with Malayalis came to light recently when its Mayor Jenny Hill posted a photo with Malayali nurse-writer Bissy Thoppil.
The Mayor wrote a touching note after receiving Thoppil’s books in Malayalam as a donation into the Mayoral Collection at the Townsville City Library.
A native of Udayamperoor in Kochi, Thoppil is among the early nurses who migrated to Australia from Kerala. She shifted to Townsville from Victoria along with her husband and two children.
Now, around 350 Malayali families live in Townsville. For us, the weather was a major reason to shift to Townsville. It is very similar to that of Kerala. We can find almost everything we get in Kerala here,” Thoppil said.
Thoppil, who has already authored three anthologies of short stories, said the actual number of people speaking Malayalam at home could be much more than the census data. “I am sure the number of Keralites in Townsville is much more than recorded in the census,” she said.