“This City is what it is because our citizens are what they are.
Australia, it is said, is a country of immigrants. It has had hundreds of years of practising migration to get it right.
Unfortunately, Australia has not always got it right. There have been racial atrocities committed against the Indigenous peoples, legislated racism with the White Australia policy and present-day racist attitudes. But, Australia does try to recognise its Indigenous and multicultural heritage and thank its citizens of non-English speaking background for their influences and achievements.
Below is a small list of the statues, monuments, plaques, parks, and street and suburb names, honouring Hellenism and notable Greeks and Greek-Cypriots who settled in all six Australian states and its two territories during more than 200 years of migration.
That recognition ranges from statues honouring mythical ancient Greeks like the goddess Athena, in Sydney, who surveys over Barracks St. To the Western Australian suburb of Prevelly, dedicated to the Monastery of Prevelli, in Crete, that saved a World War II Australian soldier’s life. To a busk of a Greek priest, Rev. Father Nicholas Moutafis, in a Melbourne suburban park with an Indigenous name where a monument dedicated to fallen soldiers also stands.
They show, as Plato would argue, citizens fashioning their cities and, in turn, cities and towns reflecting its citizens.
Theo Sidiropoulos was born in Katerini, Greece, and migrated to Australia in 1954. He was the first Greek-born person to be elected to Victorian Parliament, but he also formed part of the resistance in Greece, and in Australia was Collingwood City mayor and an advocate for social justice and migrant rights. It is perhaps this advocacy that framed the unique and large memorial to him.
The memorial invites the viewer to “Stand Up – Speak Out” and is symbolic of a speaker’s mound, “a place where all people can have their say and be heard”, the inscription states. It includes a picture of Mr Sidiropoulos waving, words in different languages, including the Greek word for freedom and a backgammon motif. The memorial is in front of three olive trees and a fig tree in the adjoining St Philip’s Anglican Church.
For further information on Mr Sidiropoulos’s life go to www.parliament.vic.com.au or visit the memorial at the former Collingwood Town Hall garden, corner of Hoddle and Stanton streets, Collingwood.
The late Reverend Father Nicholas Moutafis was the priest at one of Melbourne’s most- frequented Greek Orthodox churches for so long, that many children of post World War II immigrant parents have photos of being baptised by him, their parents becoming godparents at his church and they, themselves, being married by him.
Father Moutafis was the priest at, Sts Anagyri, in Willesden Rd, Oakleigh, from 1964 to 2001. A relentless advocate for Hellenism and Greek Orthodoxy, he helped establish and develop the Sts Anagyri church, the adjoining elderly citizens units, Oakleigh Greek Orthodox Community Centre, and Sts Anagyri college, which is now Oakleigh Grammar, and its sports complex.
In recognition of these achievements, a bust of Fr Moutafis was erected in Warrawee Park in 2003. “Warrawee” is an Indigenous word meaning “stop here” . The bust is 58 steps from the monument dedicated to the soldiers of all wars waged in the 20th century and 25 steps from the manzanilla olive tree gifted to the city from the Beirut Hellenic Bank, Oakleigh branch. The non-profit organisation, Monument Australia, stated that: “This memorial set a precedent for recognising community figures”. (See pic 1)
Thousands attended Fr Moutafis’s funeral, at the Oakleigh church, on Tuesday 26 June 2001, at 11am. In fact, there were so many mourners, that Melbourne ABC radio 774 Breakfast show gave a traffic report advising listeners of the congestion.
For further information go to descendant Tim Moutafis’s website www.frmoutafis.com and his YouTube video, “Fr. Nicholas Moutafis Funeral 2001”; www.oakleighgrammar.vic.edu.au; or visit Warrawee Park, corner Drummond St and Atherton Rd, Oakleigh, across the road from Melbourne’s famous Hellenic precinct, in Eaton Mall.
The great hero Leonidas is honoured at Sparta Place, Brunswick.
READ MORE: When ancient Greek statues speak
One of the first prominent Greek settlers of rural NSW was Konstantinos Argyropoulos who became a profitable landowner, in Parkes. He arrived in Sydney in 1854 and changed his name to Constantine Fisher. There is also the story of the seven Greek sailors convicted of piracy in 1828 and sent as convicts to New South Wales, in 1829.
High-achieving Greeks of NSW are too many to mention: their honours in the habour side city too many to list.
But, just as important is Sydney’s homage to ancient Greek civilisation with its statues of the gods Athena and Apollo.
The Athena statue, in Barrack St, Sydney, is a copy of a 4th century BC bronze statue of the Greek goddess attributed to the ancient Greek sculptor, Kephisodotos. The Mayor of Athens gifted the statue to the city for the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games.
One of Sydney’s most photographed sites, a statue of the god Apollo, was unveiled in 1932 and stands in the northern side of Hyde Park. “Apollo” at the Archibald Fountain features a bronze Apollo surrounded by other mythical figures. It was bequeathed to the city by the creator of Australia’s leading portrait art prize, The Archibald Prize, and founder of the Bulletin magazine, John Feltham Archibald.
For further information on Hyde Park, go to www.cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au. For further information on Greeks in NSW go to www.environment.nsw.gov.au and then Craig Turnball and Chris Valiotis, Beyond the Rolling Wave – A Thematic History of Greek Settlement in New South Wales (2001).
The Central Café, in Blackall, Queensland was so special, the Blackall Shire Council has a plaque commemorating it.
Central Café was everything – a café, newsagency, confectionary, book seller and tobacconist. It was opened by the Cominos family in the early 1920s then bought by the Logothelis (Logos) Brothers.
The plaque honouring it states: “A visit to the café was a social highlight with its silver table settings, printed menus and waitresses in starched green uniforms.” The café closed after 70 years, in the 1990s.
For more information on the pioneering Greek families who ran the café go to www.kythera-family.net, Nick Politis, Architecture.
Hector Vasyli was the son of a Cypriot-born father. His parents ran the then Queensland Oyster Palace, in South Brisbane, a short distance from the then Victoria Bridge. Like many, this 11-year-old would go to the bridge to welcome home World War I returned soldiers. It is written, that he would save up his pocket money to buy gifts, like flowers and cigarettes, and through them at returning soldiers as they walked by. Hector was hit by a vehicle in the military procession as it swerved to avoid hitting another car in the procession. He died in June 1918.
The memorial honouring him is at the former Victoria Bridge abutment, at 74 Stanley St. The abutment became a World War I memorial because of Hector’s death. The memorial has a metal bust of Hector and is a tribute to a boy who was patriotic to Australia and who, the inscription states, “in his veins ran the heroic blood of Greece, and in the breast of a child he carried the heart of a man.” The actual bridge was pulled down in 1969.
For further information, visit www.visitbrisbane.com.au/en
Georgios Tramountanas is generally credited as being the first Greek to settle in South Australia, in 1842. His surname in Greek means “northern wind” so he changed it to North. He is recognised with a plaque in Elliston headed in Greek and English with the words: “Πάροδος Γιώργος Τραμουντάνας, George North Walkway.”
The Greek Orthodox Community, of South Australia, has also installed a memorial stone at his gravesite and local North descendants have planted an olive grove leading to the grave.
For further information, head to the Tramountanas-North Association.
Pt Willunga and Lewiston
There are also interesting Greek street names in SA, like the Star of Greece Rd, in Pt Willunga, which is opposite Gulf St Vincent and Voula Ct, in Lewiston. For more SA streets with Greek names go to UBD Gregory’s Street Directory Adelaide and Surrounds (2018).
Nicholas Liveris Walk, Darwin City, was registered on 3 February, this year. This milestone was 104 years after Mr Liveris’s birth in Kastellorizo on 28 February 1916.
His parents Andreas and Maria Liveris are considered pioneers of Darwin and helped build pre-Cyclone Tracy Darwin. Cyclone Tracy was in 1974. The Maria Liveris Dr, is in The Gardens, near Fannie Bay.
Nicholas Liveris became the head of the family at 10 years old, when his father died, working to help his two brothers, Lazarus (Les) and George finish school. He started the company Progressive Builders, and built such iconic pre-Tracy Darwin structures as the first courthouse and parliament house, and the Uniting Church, in Smith St. His brother, Les Liveris, had an illustrious career, including becoming NT Immigration Minister.
For further information on the walk’s history and location, go to the NT government’s place names register extract at, www.ntlis.nt.gov.au/placenames/ .
Wanguri, Coolalinga and Larrakeyah
There are many streets in the NT named after pioneering Greek families . Paspaley Pl, in Larrakeyah, is right on the marina and named after the world-renown Paspaley pearlers. Patsalou Rd, in Coolalinga, is named after the Greek-Cypriot family who were famous poultry, fruit and vegetable producers who supplied their goods to distinguished organisations and people, including the Defence Department and the Royal Yacht, in 1962.
In the suburb of Wanguri, there is, in a row, Margaritis St, Kailis St and Kailis Park, Canaris St, Haritos St and Haritos Park, Taifalos St, Dioctitis St and Harmanis St and Harmanis Park.
For a history of pioneering Greek and Greek-Cypriot families read the NT’s seventeenth administrator, John Anictomatis’s, Eric Johnston Lecture, at www.ntl.nt.gov.au/eric-johnston-lecture , “A Home Away from Home – the Aegean to Australia”, (2000). For Greek street names go online or to UBD Gregory’s Street Directory Darwin and Central Australia, (2017), p18. Also visit the NT government’s online place name register listed above.
So grateful was World War II soldier, Geoff Edwards OAM, to the people of Crete for helping him avoid capture, he subdivided and named this coastal townsite on the southern tip of Western Australia, Prevelly. Prevelly is 287km south-west of Perth and 9km west of Margaret River.
Prevelly is dedicated to the Monastery of Prevelli, in Crete, who haboured and helped Australian soldiers, like Mr Edwards, escape. He also built St John the Theologian Greek Orthodox Church, in Wallcliffe Rd, above his seaside community.
Several streets in Prevelly, like Vatos Way and Papadakis Rd, are named after the monks and families who helped him survive in Crete.
Many prominent Canberrans of Greek heritage have been lauded and awarded. But, there are other less well known Canberrans.
Vince and Viola Kalokerinos’ milk bar and its pizzas were an institution, in Curtin, and a plaque in the Curtin shops square, at 26 Curtin Pl, Curtin, commemorates Vince’s contribution to the community. It reads: “Vince Kalokerinos, The people of Curtin and District wish to say thank you Vince for services to our community.”
For further information on Vince Kalokerinos go to his son’s work, John Kalokerinos, From Kythera to Canberra: Vince and Viola Kalokerinos: A migration study (online), Australian Journal of Biography and History, (2019); and the Canberra and District Historical Society’s website www.canberrahistory.org.au/CurtinLivingMemories , Ann Smith interviewer (26 Feb 2015.)
Jackomos St, is named after Melbourne –based Aboriginal activist, Alick Jackomos, and is in the suburb of Bonner, which is named after Australia’s first Indigenous parliamentarian, Senator Neville Bonner. Alick Jackomos had Kastellorizian heritage.
For further information on Alick Jackomos go to the National Museum Australia website www.nma.gov.au or Richard Broome and Corinne Manning, A Man of All Tribes: The Life of Alick Jackomos, Aboriginal Studies Press, Canberra, (2006). For further information on street names in Canberra download the app at www.actmapi.act.gov.au
Tasmania has a rich history of Greek migration dating back to the late 1800s.
Trifon Kelestioglou, of Tyrnavos, Greece, is said to be the earliest Greek to settle in Tasmania. He came in 1875. He adopted the name George Nicholls and traded in Hobart as a licensed victualler.
Sir John Demetrius Morris was the highest achiever of Greek background. His grandfather’s surname was Moros, but he changed it to Morris. When John Demetrius Morris was appointed Tasmania’s chief justice in 1940 , he became the first Hellenic Australian chief justice.
But there are many lesser-known worthy figures.
Greek businessman Jimmy Xypteras has a memorial plaque next to a playground, in James St, Whitemark. The inscription states: “This playground equipment has been donated to Flinders Council in memory of Jimmy Xypteras in recognition of his outstanding contributions to the Flinders Island Community November 2011.”
For further information go to www.kythera-family.net, George Poulos, Greeks in Tasmania – Kytherians in Tasmania, (2004); www.liv.asn.au, Justice Emilios Kyrou, What’s in a name, (2016); and www.monumentaustralia.org.au.