A Multicultural Festival to remember: Toad Hall's 50th anniversary

07 May 2024

On April Fool’s Day in 1974, Toad Hall (charmingly named by its residents) opened its doors as the first self-catered Hall on campus. Inspired by the willows along the creek, students were reminded of the classic children’s novel The Wind in the Willows and named their residence after the character Mr Toad’s home, Toad Hall.  

Now, some 50 years later Toad Hall is a thriving residence with a diverse community and a history of successful alumni. Today’s ‘Toadies’ are mainly post graduate students from all corners of the globe. Roughly 35 countries are represented among its 227 residents, reflective of its motto Unity in Diversity. 

It is unsurprising that Toad Hall’s biggest event of the year is its annual Multicultural Festival. With Toad Hall also celebrating its 50th anniversary, there is no doubt that this year’s bash will be bigger than ever. 

The Multicultural Festival is being organised by Toad Hall’s Arts and Culture portfolio – a group of Senior Residents (SR) and SR’s in training (reserve SR) responsible for all artistic and cultural events for Toad Hall in semester one.  

This portfolio consists of Abhishek Chozhiyattil a reserve SR studying a Master of Engineering in Mechatronics, Garry da Gama an SR pursuing a PhD in Public Policy and Wasamon Posrie an SR studying for a Master of Public Policy.  

The Multicultural Festival is split into two main events, a private food festival for residents and alumni at lunchtime and a public performance festival in the evening. 

As a self-catered Hall, Toadies have access to many kitchen spaces. For the food festival, groups are given a cooking station, a country to represent, and $300 to prepare a main dish, a desert and a drink reflective of that country. The head chef must be a country representative from Toad Hall.  

Residents and alumni also have the opportunity to showcase their talents and culture through a range of dance, music and cultural arts activities at the public performance festival.  

“The Multicultural Festival is also about team building. Not all residents necessarily get together and meet, but this is one event where they must work together and get to know each other well in order to plan and execute. Whether it be by cooking a meal, or preparing a performance,” says Abhishek.  


“It’s a free event which is very exciting. You will see performances from different countries. It is a great opportunity to witness the diverse cultures that other residencies may not have,” says Garry. 


With over 40 residents volunteering to assist with this year's event preparations, Toad Hall’s ethos of Unity in Diversity shines through. It is this ingrained sense of community and inclusion that makes Toad Hall a beloved place to live by its residents.  


Before moving to Toad Hall, Wasamon recalls feeling isolated in her off campus accommodation.  


 “Toad Hall really has a strong sense of community. Living with my first SR and block mates made me feel right at home. We cook together, eat together and do activities together here in the hall. These bond us together and I never feel alone living here,” she says. 

Abhishek shares this sentiment and is currently in training to be an SR himself. 

“I chose Toad Hall because of the community and the diverse culture where you get to meet people from all around the world. Especially if you talk about the SR team itself, you’ll find brilliant minds from different countries,” he says.  


Garry describes Toad Hall as his home away from his home country.  


“We share everything at Toad Hall, we share our food, our culture, our stories. We also support each other when dealing with the pressure of high academic workloads.” 


As Toad Hall’s cohort is mainly postgraduate and PhD students, residents have heavy workloads and minimal time to spare. The efforts Toadies put towards bringing their Multicultural Festival to life, is truly a labour of love.  


This work ethic and culture of inclusion and support could be why Toad Hall has such high rates of successful alumni.  


Notable alumni include the Indonesian Ambassador to Australia, Dr Siswo Pramono, Australia’s Ambassador to Indonesia, Ms Penny Williams, Former Indonesian Minister for Trade and for Tourism and Creative Economy, Dr Mari Pangestu and the newly appointed Director of the Office for Women in the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, Padma Raman.  


To honour and celebrate Toad Hall’s special anniversary, the Indonesian Ambassador to Australia, Dr Siswo Pramono is among the alumni attending this year's festivities.  


“The Multicultural Festival is the biggest event at Toad Hall, joined with a 50th birthday celebration the community has big expectations. We plan to bring the best out for the event this year,” says Abhishek.  


“We need to make it the best we can, because people are excited and waiting for it. This event unites everyone together – that's a big thing,” says Wasamon. 



Watch dazzling performances, explore diverse cultures and experience the home away from home magic that is Toad Hall. Register now for the free performance festival.  


Want to live at Toad Hall or another on campus residence? Explore 18 ANU residences to find your new home today. Apply by 1 July to secure your spot.