While Konstantinos Paleologoudias journey mirrors the experiences of many Greeks migrants who made their way to Australia, his story stands as a reminder of the timeless values that lie in hard work, resilience, and perseverance.

The pelican statue recently unveiled in Venus Bay, South Australia carries great significance as it represents the Paleologoudias family’s lasting impact on the maritime heritage of Venus Bay and Port Kenny, that helped put those two South Australian coastal towns on the map.

From Greek Migrant to Fishing Industry Pioneer

It all started in the early 50s, when 18-year-old Konstantinos Paleologoudias, embarked on his migrating journey from Greece to Australia, hoping to secure a more promising future.

Konstantinos or Kon, as he was widely known in the broader community, worked various jobs in Adelaide, before moving to Thevenard, where he worked together with his brother Harry, in the fish processing business.

Driven by his determination to establish a safe and stable life, he found out from the “Fisheries Department” that there is an abundance of garfish, whiting and gummy sharks, near this small town called Port Kenny.

Nick on the left processing fish with his dad Kon on the top right and Nick’s son, Steve on the bottom right. Photo: Supplied

“There was this fisherman who indeed had a lot of fish, but no person to sell them to. We then bought more fish from some other fishermen. That’s how my husband and I ended up doing this job,” said Kon’s wife, Mrs Margarita Paleologoudias, to Neos Kosmos.

Using this knowledge to his benefit and seeing the potential in this opportunity, Kon built “Kon Paul and Sons,” a fish factory in Port Kenny, where he processed the fish and prawns, he bought off the fishermen trawling in Port Kenny and Venus Bay.

Overcoming Challenges

During the 1970s, Kon managed to establish himself as a respected member of the fishing community and raised a family of four children alongside his wife Margarita, despite facing challenges.

“We had no water, no electricity. There were no roads back then, it was all rocks,” said Mrs Margarita Paleologoudias.

The Cavalier boat. Photo: Supplied

She remembers herself “carrying the sea water to wash the fish,” from a hole they dug outside the factory, and during a time when prawns would vanish “for 5 or 6 years” in Venus Bay, their focus was primarily on survival.

However, Kon managed to do once again, what he knew how to do best. Provide for his family.

Mrs Paleologoudias says her husband “would leave at 2am and drive his truck for 6 hours to get to Wallaroo where he bought prawns,” and then back to Port Kenny to process the prawns before getting them ready for packaging.

“We made it work because we had the will,” she added.

Kon Paleologoudias in wheelhouse. Photo: Supplied

Childhood Memories

All four kids of the Paleologoudias family, John, Nick and the twins Terry and Fiona, grew up in the fish factory, helping with the family business.

As a kid, Terry, recalls spending “most of the days in the pram at the fish factory,” along with his twin sister Fiona, while “mum helped process the fish.”

“I always remember dad getting up at four o’clock and five o’clock in the morning, going down at his factory to start process mainly whiting fish,” Terry says.

Fiona says she carries “many wonderful memories,” from her “time in the factory.”

She remembers “the piles of sharks on the ground waiting to be filleted,” and “the smell of the cleaning up products and foam on the floor at the end of the day’s processing,” while her brother John would bring “a feed of freshly cooked crabs in the morning after they finished.”

While spending her early years in Port Kenny, and going to “high school in the city,” Fiona believes she was privileged to have “the best of all worlds.”

“I think the ‘dual country/city life growing’ up just widened my scope for experiences; that coupled with a father like Kon, who was quite strict and ‘loved a debate,’ certainly gave me a strong foundation,” Fiona told Neos Kosmos.

Kon in the middle, transporting prawns from Venus Bay to Port Kenny together with his son Nick on the right. Photo: Supplied

Navigating Generations

Following the opening of his factory, Kon bought his first trawler, the Cavalier, and successfully obtained his prawn fishing licence, cementing his position within the local fishing community.

He then decided to sell the Cavalier, and build his first prawn fishing boat, “Limnos”, named after his homeland island in Greece.

To this day, “Limnos” encapsulates the history of the Paleologoudias family serving as the boat that laid the foundation for the enduring legacy of “Kon Paul and Sons.”

Terry who runs a prawning business, now skippers “Limnos” and continues to keep the family tradition alive.

He says, his eldest brother Yanni Paleologoudias, who “has always been fishing since a young lad,” took over the role of captain of the family trawlers on numerous occasions.

He presently owns his own business and continues to fish in Venus Bay.

Kon on the left together with his son Nick. Photo: Supplied

Terry explains that Nick, Terry’s second eldest brother, took over the management of the family business, overseeing both the fish factory operations and sales.

Nick’s son, Steve, now operates the boat Bosanquet Bay, which was bought by the family in the early 2000s, while the third boat, Lincoln Lady, is also operated by a family member.

Terry mentions that “all three boats are tied up at the jetty,” painting a picturesque scene that serves as a symbol of a historical heritage in Venus Bay.

The Paleologoudias family endured a tragic loss when, in 2019, both Kon and Nick passed away, leaving behind a legacy that will be cherished for generations to come.

Terry treasures the life lessons learned by his father, reflecting upon them as he looks back on the past.

“He taught me how to be a Jack of all trades and master of none,” he says, noting that “in the old days,” when any mechanical or carpentry work required fixing, one had to learn to tackle it themselves.

Kon and Margarita Paleologoudias. Photo: Supplied

Pauly: Honoring a Prawn Fishing Legacy in Venus Bay

A pelican statute was recently made in Venus Bay, by the owner of the town’s only store, Nicole Elliott Carmody, to honour the family’s immense contributions in the local history of two small towns in South Australia’s west coast.

“Every good idea starts with a couple of beers. The kids and I were sitting on the veranda one evening after we shut the shop and I said I think Venus Bay needs something,” Nicole told Neos Kosmos.

The idea soon turned into action, and with a little help of her friend Jeff Martin, whose “favourite pastime hobby is metal art sculpting”, Pauly was “born”.

“My daughter and I chose the name. We ran a competition so that everyone could feel like they had a part of naming Pauly, but we’d already decided,” she explains.

“It needed to be named after a prawn fishing fleet family that put Port Kenny and Venus Bay on the map.”

Nicole shares that “nobody knew,” the statue would be built in honour of the Paleologoudias family, and made sure this was kept a secret until the day the pelican was unveiled.

“It came very much as a surprise because I built the wooden part where the plaque was made,” explains Terry, who according to Nicole was “gob smacked,” on the night of the unveiling.

Kon Paleologoudias. Photo: Supplied

Pauly, the pelican statue, is situated in a position that faces Port Kenny and “looks over the prawn trawlers,” says Terry.

“It’s fairly touching, really, and naming the pelican after an abbreviation of our surname… It was massive,” he adds.

Fiona describes Nicole’s initiative as “a generous contribution to personally fund such a wonderful piece of artwork for the community and visitors to enjoy.”

“The fact they then chose to call it “Pauly” …well that was very touching and made me feel exceptional proud of my family,” she added.

“I wish dad and Nick got to see it, maybe they can, who knows.”