The Greek Club in Brisbane was filled with mixed emotions in late October. At the book launch of Constantine Castan’s book The Greeks in Brisbane – Migration, Arrival, Home, the 250 strong crowd was trying to juggle feelings of happiness and sadness. For one, they were finally holding the published book that chronicles Brisbane’s Greek community, but they couldn’t shake the absence of Con Castan, the man who brought that book to life.
He passed away just months before finishing the book, something that became a lifelong project. It was thanks to his widow, Dr Voula Castan, that the book is in publication today.
“This is a memorable moment,” she said on the night of the book launch at the Greek Club in Brisbane. “Feelings of quiet satisfaction and inner peace that some of his unfinished documents have now been published.”
The Consul General of Greece in Queensland Jim Raptis had the honour of launching the book and was full of praise for the breadth and investigative knowledge displayed in its pages.
“Costa has created an historical reflection by weaving together innumerable threads and biographies,” he said in his speech.
“He has anchored our stories on strong themes – set on the stage of Brisbane and immersed in Greek heritage.”
The book chronicles the first bouts of Greek migration to Brisbane, and moves onto the families that set the foundation for Brisbane and captures the hardships and successes of these early Greek migrants.
Community successes, like the first Greek Orthodox Church and the formation of associations and subsequently paniyiria, show the maturity of the Greek community in and around the state.
“These are milestones and events that today we take for granted, but in the book have been given due credit in the growth, maturing and depth of a community,” Mr Raptis says.
At the book launch were countless notable members of the Brisbane Greek community, including the Vicar General for Queensland, Reverend Father Dimitri Tsakas, the Member for South Brisbane, Ms Jackie Trad, former Speaker of the Queensland Parliament, Mr Jim Fouras and Emeritus Professor of Classic and Ancient History Professor Bob Milns.
For those interested in purchasing a book, call the Greek Orthodox Community of St George on 07 3844 3669.