Back Roads: Biloela

ABC, 8pm

We’ve all heard of Biloela thanks to the Nadesalingams, the Tamil refugee family deported from there – and the subsequent outrage of the good burghers of that village. What’s less known (but in context, not that surprising) is that the central Queensland town – population less than 6000 – is a thriving multicultural hub. Surrounded by farms, the area also supports a mine, a power station, and a meatworks, and people have come from all over the world in search of gainful employment and a fresh start.

Biloela residents Anne Smith (left) and Mary Austin are supporters of Tamil asylum seekers Nadesalingam Murugappan and Priya Nadarasa and their children.

Biloela residents Anne Smith (left) and Mary Austin are supporters of Tamil asylum seekers Nadesalingam Murugappan and Priya Nadarasa and their children.Credit:Darren England

Some are migrants. Some are refugees. All have been welcomed. As one old-timer says: “We don’t have any problems. Everyone has a job.” It’s a simple statement that contains a piercing truth. The local church ladies running classes in colloquial Australian (“We’ll head over to the servo after brekkie”) are just some of the delightful characters and surprising stories crammed in here. The only discordant note is that despite the opening credits identifying the town as being in Gangulu country, the original inhabitants of the area remain conspicuous by their absence.



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