In the nineteenth century Italians priests performed missionary work in Queensland, Western Australia and the Northern Territory and the Italian linguist Raffaello Carboni played a significant role in the Eureka Stockade revolt of 1854. Small Italian communities catered to miners on the goldfields of Victoria and Western Australia. In 1885 a group of some 300 migrants from northern Italy established a traditional Italian community called 'New Italy' in northern New South Wales (NSW). Italian fishermen also established communities along the south coast of NSW, Port Pirie and Fremantle. During this period Italian labourers arrived in Queensland to work on the cane fields. By the late 1930s, one third of all Australia's Italian migrants lived in the cane-growing regions of Queensland. Italians also became involved in market gardens, comprising about 40 per cent of Queensland's
In 1947 the population of the Italy-born was 33,632 persons and by 1971 the number had increased to 289,476 persons. Most of the Italian migrants came from Sicily, Calabria and Veneto and settled in metropolitan areas. Italy experienced economic buoyancy after 1971, and this prompted many Italians to leave Australia and return to Italy. This led to a decline in the size of the Italian population in Australia. The 1996 Census recorded a drop in the number of Italy-born persons to 238,216.