This year marks 75 years of official friendship between Australia and Brazil, as Brazilian Ambassador His Excellency Dr Sergio Lima calls the future possibilities for the two beach-and-barbecue-loving nations “enormous”.
It’s an odd year to celebrate, but none-the-less worthy. Australia has welcomed 50,000 Brazilian expats to large communities in Perth, Sydney and the Gold Coast, along with 57,000 Brazilian students.
Dr Lima said the reputation of Australian universities and particularly our science degrees, made Brazilian students feel proud to be a part of building our nation.
Australia’s science-based approach to COVID earned praise by Dr Lima, who said our biosecurity regulations were first class.
“Your scientists and universities started with economic modelling, projections and studies,” Dr Lima said.
“Then they said okay, if it starts here, in two months, three months, where we’ll be here. They started doing the right things in terms of testing, tracing, and establishing the right protocols.
“You also had robust biosecurity legislation which was very positive.”
Clear admiration aside, Dr Lima feels there remains a challenge in bridging the gap of mutual knowledge and cultural exchanges.
“Classical music. You know, we have some beautiful, classical music, but we have also of course, the bossa nova and the samba,” Dr Lima said.
“These rhythms are known all over the world.
“Brazilian music has helped the globalisation of music in many ways.”
Dr Lima and his wife Mrs Ana Maria Moreira Lima, showed CW through their stylish 1960s diplomatic “farmhouse” that is unusually filled with personal belongings shipped from Brazil which “vibes” of classic white beachy décor, tempered with antique furniture and touches of Indigenous Australian artwork.
The couple are very happy to be spending their year in the relative safety of Canberra, embracing the natural beauty of Red Hill, and regularly walking to its lookout together.
“Myself and my wife, we can walk to the Red Hill and see the kangaroos.”
Their large formal sitting room has wide retractable glass doors that bring the outside in and allow the beauty of the garden to shine, including the Jacaranda trees, common in Australia but native to Brazil.
The purple beauties are part of our shared history, as they were introduced to Australia by the first fleet, who picked them up on their Rio De Janeiro stopover.
Dr Lima’s favourite part of the residence is the grand entrance and fireplace.
“During the winter, you have a fireplace, and this makes a difference.
“It is a privilege to be there and to be able to go to work under such good conditions.”
Dr Lima said the two countries’ mutual learning could come from similarities in their history because after centuries of struggle with the Portuguese colonisation, slavery and the loss of Indigenous identities, Brazil is also a melting pot.
“The way that you are respecting, recovering, and documenting these different Aboriginal cultures is really great. It’s inspiring and deserves acknowledgement.
“I can appreciate very much the efforts that you have been making, in promoting your Indigenous culture. I think it’s impressive and, in many ways, it represents an important change, which also gives you legitimacy on the world stage.”
Dr Lima would like to see Australia and Brazil play a bigger role on the world stage and said the mutual respect meant the “strategic relationship” could further develop democratic international rules.
“Creating international rules through transparency and accountability, with open parliaments and societies in which you can discuss things openly, I think this is important for today and for the world in the future.
“And to have likeminded countries like Australia and Brazil, working for a future of peace and cooperation.
“In the future, I think that we (both countries) have to do more in terms of our strong commitment to the environment,” he said.
Photography by Kerrie Brewer