Out the flat sheep country between Melbourne and Geelong, a muted landscape of grey skies, withered grass and straggly gums, another chapter is unfolding in the settlement of Australia.
A former rural junction called Hoppers Crossing has become a new suburb of brick homes, fences, kerbed streets. Children swarm around on trail bikes and show off at skateboard ramps. In the centre is a shed-like evangelical church and next to it, a low green-and-white building with vaguely Arabic windows called, of all things, the Virgin Mary Mosque.
Here gather in prayer and instruction a heterogenous community of some of Australia's newest Muslim arrivals - from Somalia, Bosnia, Sudan, Albania, the Middle East and Asia - channelled into this suburban growth corridor.
Their imam - a blind Somali named Sheik Isse Musse (or "Jesus Moses"), who arrived as a refugee in 1993 - is regarded as one of the most devout, broadly educated Islamic preachers in the country.
It took Sheik Isse some persuasion to give the mosque its unusual name. "That was my idea, for two things," he said. "Let us prove that Christianity and Islam have many things in common. We both revere the Virgin Mary. Second thing is generally Muslims name their schools, their mosques, their streets, everything after men. Let us show there is nothing wrong in naming a mosque after a person like Mary.
"In fact there was big ambivalence about that at the beginning," Isse admits. "Some people could not digest it, but I kept explaining: Look, is not the Virgin Mary mentioned in the holy Koran? Isn't she a very high and pious person? Yes. So what's stopping us giving her name? It was also education. I was trying to educate people that even female names are all right."
In 1947 Australia had only 2700 Muslims, descended from Afghan or Baluch cameleers, North Indian traders, Malay pearl divers and others who slipped through the immigration net.
Then, accepted because they were whites, came Muslim settlers from the former Ottoman parts of Europe. Some slipped in with Christians from Lebanon, setting up the strip of sweet shops and belly-dance restaurants along Redfern's Cleveland Street, close to a multi-ethnic mosque in Surry Hills, before a breakaway group established a new Lebanese mosque at Lakemba.
The numbers swelled when Harold Holt's government signed a migration agreement with Turkey in 1967, with 10,000 Turks soon arriving to fill assembly-line jobs in Melbourne's car and garment factories.
In the mid-1970s came the sudden influx of Muslims fleeing the sectarian civil war in Lebanon - not selected by Australian immigration officials, but approved from lists provided by family and village sponsors already here.