Early migration began mainly to America and then to Australia from Kastelorizo, Kythira, Peloponissos and many more districts during the Gold Rush period (1828-1945). However, the largest migratory flow occurred during the period 1900-1921.
Hosted by Kyriakos Gold, CEO of Just Gold Digital Agency, and filmed in the heart of Melbourne's Greek Quarter.
Dr George Vassilacopoulos, A/ Senior Lecturer La Trobe University; Dr Konstandina Dounis, Teaching Associate at Monash University; Kostantinos Kalymnios, lawyer; Peter Stefanidis, President of the Pontian Federation Australia; and Maria Vamvakinou MP Member for Calwell
(in order of appearance).
Costas Markou, consultant; Dr George Vassilacopoulos, A/ Senior Lecturer LaTrobe University; Mary Mitrakas, lawyer; and Peter Kalliakoudis, travel executive (in order of appearance).
It seems that Greek sailors attached to British merchant or naval vessels may have sojourned in Sydney as early as the 1810s — the Ionian islands were a British protectorate from 1814 to 1864 and were a source of skilled seamen for Britain.*
The first wave of immigrants from Greece to Australia were sentenced pirates from Hydra in 1829. The first free Greek was a sailor named John Peters who arrived in Sydney in 1838 and the first woman Katerina Plessa in 1835. Across the sea came other isolated Greek arrivals prior to the 1850s. Most were sailors. With the Australian gold rushes of the 1850s–1880s, quite a considerable number of Greek sailors and fishermen, serving mostly with British vessels, eagerly jumped the ships and made it off to the inland diggings of New South Wales and Victoria.*
Early Greece-born settlers worked mainly in mining camps, on the wharves or on coastal ships. The main migration wave after 1880 was with immigrants coming from Kythira, Ithaka and Kastellorizo that ignited the phenomenon of the chain migration that increased the Greek population numbers in Australia.
Despite the imposition of Australian immigration restrictions upon southern Europeans during the 1920s, and two notably aberrant periods when departures exceeded arrivals, Greek communities maintained their growth during the opening three decades of the twentieth century.*
* (Janiszewski, Leonard and Alexakis, Effy): Greek currents in Australian waters: Greek-Australians and the sea, 1810s–2013
The hostilities in Europe lasted until 1945, except for in Greece where the Civil War which succeeded WWII ended in 1949. Successive Greek Governments encouraged its ‘surplus population’ to emigrate in an effort to reduce unemployment in the country and as a means of achieving economic and industrial development.