Macedonians first came to Victoria in the early 20th century as “pechalbari”: men who came seeking fortunes with the intention of returning home. Many decided to settle, however, and travelled the countryside looking for work as itinerant labourers. Others established market gardens or small businesses in both rural and city areas. Members of this first wave of immigrants
sponsored the immigration of family members, many of whom had lived through the civil war that ravaged Aegean Macedonia (Northern Greece) in the late 1940s.
In 1959, the first Macedonian Orthodox church outside Macedonia, St. George, was built in Fitzroy. Small scale migration continued after World War II, but numbers increased in the late 1960s through to the 1970s. This was due to a worsening economic situation in the Socialist Republic of Macedonia, then part of the Yugoslav federation.
During the 1980s the Macedonian community in Victoria established several cultural organisations to support its members. In 1981, a Macedonian Centre was opened in Epping by the Macedonian Orthodox Community of Melbourne and Victoria. The Federation of Macedonian Associations in Victoria was founded in 1984, followed by The Macedonian Senior Citizens’ Federation in 1989. The Macedonian Community Welfare Association and a range of artistic and sporting groups were also established during this period.
In 1991, Macedonia declared its independence from the Yugoslav federation. Business migrants from Macedonia soon began to arrive in Australia.
In 2006, there were 18,315 Macedonia-born Victorians, the majority living around the suburbs of Epping, Thomastown and Lalor. The community is mainly Macedonian Orthodox, and most speak Macedonian at home. Many are labourers, while others work in clerical, sales and professional roles. The Macedonian Advisory and Consultative Committee is one of many organisations that actively support the Macedonian community in Victoria today.