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Life

In Australia, multicultural means multireligious

Traditional churches in decline amid rise of Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism and Sikhism

 A Sikh band plays during the Anzac Day March in Sydney in April 2018. There are about 210,000 adherents of the Sikh religion in Australia today, compared with just 12,000 25 years ago. (Getty Images)

SYDNEY -- For more than 50 years, motorists on the Pacific Highway between Australia's east coast cities of Sydney and Brisbane gained a glimpse of a minority culture when they passed the distinctive white domes of the Guru Nanak Gurdwara (Temple on the Hill) at Woolgoolga, a small beachside town that is home to a large Sikh community.

These days, the coastal highway bypasses Woolgoolga, but the temple, which opened in 1970, is as busy as ever, serving 1,300 Sikhs who make up more than a quarter of Woolgoolga's population. Five hundred meters away is the First Sikh Temple of Australia, opened in 1968 in a modest brick building and replaced in 2019 by a much larger gold and white temple next door.

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