Fri, Jan 20, 2006 - Page 2 News List

Aussies becoming familiar with Lunar New Year holiday


More and more non-Chinese in Australia are learning to appreciate the tradition and culture of the Lunar New Year, Australia's top representative in Taiwan, Steve Waters, said yesterday.

In Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, an increasing number of non-Chinese pack into Chinatown during the Lunar New Year, "especially in Brisbane, where we have the biggest Taiwanese community of about 14,000-15,000," Waters said.

"They love to see the lion dance, the dragon dance and get a feel [for the Lunar New Year]," he said.

Australians also enjoy Chinese food during their visits to Chinatown, which has more restaurants than other districts, he added.

"With 9 percent of the Australian population being of Asian origin, Australians have become more interested in Asian cultures, especially the Lunar New Year traditions like red envelopes and so on," he said.

"I always get a red envelope from my partner's mother, " said Waters, who has been representative at the Australian Commerce and Industry Office (ACIO), Taipei, since last July.

Currently, there are about 3,000 Australians in Taiwan, and "50 percent of those are dual-nationals [Taiwanese-Australians]," he said.

That means they know how to appreciate the Lunar New Year culture more than others, he said.

As for himself, Waters will spend the upcoming Lunar New Year holidays in Hualien.

"Hualien is beautiful. I normally drive down there. It's a beautiful and spectacular drive, especially during the daytime. And the city has very good, fresh seafood," Waters said.

"We will have a Lunar New Year dinner in Hualien and do all sort of things that people do during the New Year," he said.

It's not surprising that Waters is familiar with Taiwanese culture, as this is his second working stint in Taiwan. He worked previously at the ACIO from 1993 to 1996.

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