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The Warsaw Voice » Culture » March 4, 2009
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Destination Australia
March 4, 2009   
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An exhibition called Polish Stars Under the Southern Cross-Polish Heritage in Australia, 1788-1918 in Warsaw outlines the Polish legacy in Australia.

The exhibition, comprising 40 vividly illustrated panels, traces the history of Polish settlers and visitors who came to Australia in the 18th and 19th centuries and made significant contributions in various fields, including exploration, scientific research, study of the environment and its indigenous people, as well as in politics, society and culture.

"Poles left their mark in very diverse fields during the first 130 years of white settlement in Australia," said author and curator of the exhibition Jolanta Wolska. "Some came to Australia in search of adventure or a better life, while others were forced to leave their homeland after the 1830 November Uprising and then after the 1863 January Uprising. Poland's loss was Australia's gain."

Despite their small numbers, many Poles in the early, harsh pioneering days, were often highly educated, gained respect and achieved success in Australia. Some Poles held public office as elected mayors and councilors and as police constables, some made it in business, while some found gold; others practiced medicine, built bridges, made a contribution in the fields of geology, anthropology and biology, while still others were musicians, painters, writers and teachers. For example, Helena Rubinstein started her cosmetic empire in Australia, Sydney Myer founded the biggest chain of department stores, Ignacy Paderewski, a Polish prime minister, composer and pianist gave several concerts in that country.

A journalist, translator and PR consultant, Jolanta Wolska was born in Poland and has lived most of her life in Melbourne, Australia. She has spent many years promoting Polish-Australian cultural relations. This is her third exhibition in Poland.

Polish Stars Under the Southern Cross, Dom Polonii Polish Community Association, 64 Krakowskie Przedmieście St., Warsaw, Mon.-Sat. 10 a.m.-5 p.m., until March 10
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