French Australians
Australiens d'origine française
Total population
36,028 (by birth, 2021)[1]
148,922 (by ancestry, 2021)[2]
Regions with significant populations
France-born people by state or territory
New South Wales8,936
Western Australia2,792
Related ethnic groups

French Australians (French: Australiens d'origine française), some of whom refer to themselves as Huguenots, are Australian citizens or residents of French ancestry, or French-born people who reside in Australia. According to the 2011 Census, there were 110,399 people of French descent in Australia and 24,675 French-born people residing in the country at the time of the census, representing an increase of 28.6 percent compared to the 2006 Census. The largest French Australian community is in the state of New South Wales, where they number 8,936 people, many of whom reside in Sydney.


People with French ancestry as a percentage of the population in Sydney divided geographically by postal area, as of the 2011 census.

According to the 2006 Australian census, 98,332 Australians (or 0.47% of the population) claim French ancestry, either alone or with another ancestry.[3] Of these, 19,186 were born in France[4] and 12,735 of them had since acquired Australian citizenship.[5]

8,281 (or 43%) of the residents born in France had arrived in Australia in 1979 or earlier.[5]


Bruni d'Entrecasteaux, Jean-Michel Huon de Kermadec, Lapérouse, Louis Antoine de Bougainville, Jules Dumont d'Urville, Nicolas Baudin, François Péron and Marc-Joseph Marion du Fresne were some of the early European explorers to reach the continent. Francis Barrallier explored the Blue Mountains.

Many Australians with French ancestry are descended from Huguenot refugees. Some of the earliest Huguenots to arrive in Australia held prominent positions in English society, notably Jane Franklin and Charles La Trobe.

Others who came later were from poorer Huguenot families. They migrated to Australia from England in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries to escape the poverty in the East End of London, notably in the Huguenot enclaves of Spitalfields and Bethnal Green. Their impoverishment had been brought about by the effect of the Industrial Revolution, which caused the collapse of the Huguenot-dominated silk-weaving industry.

A number of French orders of priests, nuns and brothers have contributed to the Catholic Church in Australia. They included the teaching orders of the De La Salle Brothers,[6] Marist Brothers[7] and Marist Sisters. The prominent school St Joseph's College, Hunters Hill was founded by the French Marist Brother Emilian Pontet in 1881. The Marist Fathers staffed parishes and conducted missionary activities in the South Pacific.[8] The Missionaries of the Sacred Heart, based in Kensington, New South Wales, ran missions in remote Australia and New Guinea.[9]

French architectural influence is still visible in Hunters Hill, not only in church buildings but also but in private houses built by the unusually large number of French settlers in the suburb.[10]

The largest post-war increase in French migration to Australia came during the 1960s and 1970s; unlike many other European countries, France did not establish a migration scheme in the immediate post-war period due to chronic underemployment, despite Australia seeing the French as some of the most desirable immigrants to obtain during that era.[11]

Since that time, there has only been a small flow of French immigrants to Australia. Many people in the French-Australian community now originate from French overseas territories, especially New Caledonia.


Today, the Brisbane French Festival, held over the Bastille Day weekend, is Australia's biggest French festival.[12] Participants include both French-born Australians and Australians of more distant French ancestry.

Alliance Française has an active presence in most Australian cities, teaching the French language, holding cultural events such as Beaujolais Nouveau festivals and sponsoring the nation's annual French film festival.[13] SBS has also done much to increase the popularity of French cinema and culture with Australian audiences, though Hollywood still predominates with mainstream audiences.

Some Australians of French Huguenot descent have completely assimilated into the country's predominantly Anglo-Saxon culture but most still quietly but tenaciously hold on to as many aspects as they can of their French heritage and identify themselves very much as Huguenots, even hundreds of years after being exiled. The Huguenot Society of Australia does much to encourage Australian Huguenots to embrace their cultural heritage and provides genealogical research services.[14]

French cuisine has influenced the nation with French-inspired cafes, restaurants and boulangeries to be found in most major cities.[15] French immigrant chefs, particularly those who appear on television, have done much to promote French cooking and food philosophy, including a growing understanding of the concept of terroir.

The French Benevolent Society has an active presence in the nation, providing a support network for elderly and incapacitated French Australians.[16]

Most of the French-born people in Australia are Roman Catholics and the Reformed Church of France (Église Réformée de France) is yet to establish a presence in the country, despite the vibrant group of Australians of Huguenot descent. However, Taizé-style services are becoming increasingly popular with both Roman Catholics and Protestants from a variety of denominations. Taizé provides one of the key grassroots ecumenical movements in the nation.


French international schools in Australia include:

See also


  1. ^ "Birthplace". Australian Bureau of Statistics. Retrieved 15 April 2023.
  2. ^ "Ancestry". Australian Bureau of Statistics. Retrieved 15 April 2023.
  3. ^ "2006 Census of Population and Housing: Australia: Ancestry (full classification list) by sex". 2006 Census. Australian Bureau of Statistics. Archived from the original (XLS) on 10 March 2008. Retrieved 19 May 2008.
  4. ^ "20680-Country of Birth of Person (full classification list) by Sex – Australia". 2006 Census. Australian Bureau of Statistics. Archived from the original (XLS) on 25 December 2018. Retrieved 27 May 2008.
  5. ^ a b "2914.0.55.002 2006 Census Ethnic Media Package" (XLS). Census Dictionary, 2006 ( 2901.0). Australian Bureau of Statistics. 27 June 2007. Retrieved 14 July 2008.
  6. ^ C. Moe, Hardly a soft landing: the first Australian foundation of the De La Salle Brothers - Armidale 1906, Journal of the Australian Catholic Historical Society 28 (2007), 67-73.
  7. ^ N.A. Dennis, Pioneer Marist Brothers in Sydney, Journal of the Australian Catholic Historical Society 19 (1998), 65-73.
  8. ^ A.P. Jeffcott, The coming of the Marist Fathers to Australia and the history of Villa Maria, Sydney, Journal of the Australian Catholic Historical Society 3 (2) (1970), 13-28.
  9. ^ J. Franklin, Catholic missions to Aboriginal Australia: An evaluation of their overall effect, Journal of the Australian Catholic Historical Society 37 (1) (2016), 45-68.
  10. ^ B. Sherry, Hunters Hill, Dictionary of Sydney, 2008.
  11. ^ Bouvet, Eric (August 2007). "French migration to Australia in the post WWII period: Benevolent tolerance and cautious collaboration" (PDF). Flinders University Languages Group Online Review. 3 (2). Flinders University. ISSN 1446-9219. Retrieved 6 January 2017.
  12. ^ "En collaboration avec l'Alliance Française". Brisbane French Festival.
  13. ^ "Alliance Francaise French Film Festival 2016 in Australia". Retrieved 30 April 2016.
  14. ^ The Huguenot Society of Australia. "Welcome to The Huguenot Society of Australia Website". Retrieved 30 April 2016.
  15. ^ "Guide for all French products and services like French travel & restaurants". French Australia. Archived from the original on 31 March 2016. Retrieved 30 April 2016.
  16. ^ "Accueil et Futurs Evénéments - French Benevolent Association of South Australia". Archived from the original on 5 June 2013. Retrieved 31 May 2012.