Bhutan to Blacktown: Losing everything and finding Australia

Om Dhungel, with James Button

‘I lost my possessions, my salary, my status, my career, my country. And in that fall, I gained everything.’

Bhutan is known as the land of Gross National Happiness, a Buddhist Shangri-la hidden in the Himalayas. But in the late 1980s, Bhutan waged a brutal ethnic-cleansing campaign against its citizens of Nepali ancestry, including Om Dhungel and his family.

Bhutan to Blacktown tells Om Dhungel’s remarkable story — his journey from a remote village to a senior position in the Bhutanese Civil Service, to life as a human rights activist in Nepal and, eventually, to his work as a community leader in Blacktown, western Sydney. Every step prepared Om for the central role he would play in settling more than 5000 Bhutanese refugees, in one of the most successful refugee initiatives in Australia’s history.

Written with Walkley Award-winning journalist James Button, Bhutan to Blacktown is a story of grit and struggle, humour and irrepressible optimism — and how losing nearly everything shaped one man’s character and fate.

What you hold in your hands is a great Australian story.

- Foreword by Prime Minister Anthony Albanese

A heartbreaking story of exile, with a stirring Australian ending.

- George Megalogenis

Om Dhungel’s journey of the heart and soul, from the fields of southern Bhutan to the streets of Blacktown, Sydney, is a journey from which we can all learn, regardless of our origins.

- Michael Hutt, Professor, University of London

Paperback & ebook

Om Dhungel, with James Button

Om Dhungel arrived in Australia as a student in 1998 before being granted a refugee visa. He played a critical role in the settlement of 5000 Bhutanese refugees in Australia. James Button is a former journalist and has won three Walkley awards

NewSouth Publishing

NewSouth Publishing is the publishing division of UNSW Press Ltd, a leading Australian university press.