Punjabi Sikhs started settling in the Goulburn Valley region in early 1980s. Most Punjabis are settled in and around Shepparton, which is the main city in the Goulburn Valley . Sikhs started settling here attracted by availability of work in fruit orchards. First Punjabi Sikhs to settle here were farm hands who could find plenty of work in the form of pruning fruit trees and picking of fruit in orchards . After working as farm workers for few years they started buying rundown small orchards in partnership with their friends or relatives. About 15 Punjabi Sikh families now own orchards, vegetable farms or cropping farms varying in size from 50 to 250 acres. Punjabi professionals started settling here in early 1990s. Community was only 25-30 families strong till late 1990s.
Gurduara Sahib project was stated in May 1999, when its idea was raised at the end of a Punjabi Sikh growers meeting at Shepparton. After this meeting The Punjabi Cultural Association was registered. The Association started raising funds for buying land for building a Gurduara in the area. Sikh community donated with open hearts for this cause and some money was raised from other Sikh population areas in Australia. A two acre piece of land was bought in year 2001 on the main Shepparton to Melbourne bypass. In the same year, Sikh religious services were started from a small two bed room rented unit and parkash of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji was done. Regular priest was appointed in 2006. Work for new building for Gurduara Sahib started in 2005 and finished in 2008.
In the meantime many Punjabi Sikhs migrated from New Zealand to settle in Shepparton and surrounding small towns. Many students came to the area in search of temporary work and settled here after getting permanent residency. These two events helped in quick growth of Punjabi Sikh community in the Goulburn Valley. Many professionals also found job opportunities in the area and settled permanently. The already settled Punjabi population, climate similar to Punjab and presence of Gurduara Sahib also attracted many more Punjabis to settle in the area. The number of Punjabi Sikh families living in Greater Shepparton District has now crossed the 200 mark.
Left to right
Bhai Manjit Singh (Treasuer), Bhai Gurpal Singh Gill (Member), Bhai Jaswant Singh (Member), Bhai Malwinder Pandher (President), Bhai Jatinder Bhullar (Secretary)