The small Greek island of Kastellorizo was estimated in 2004 to have produced some 30,000 Australians – a figure which in 2011 is considerably larger. A Perth genealogist, Allan Cresswell, whose mother came from Kastellorizo, started work several years ago on mapping out the genealogy of the island and has stored all the data on a website.
“I started off by mapping my own family and then with encouragement extended it to research the Kastellorizian Diaspora. There are now 19,300 persons and 6,600 families listed on the site, together with over 1,700 media items. The several generations of Kastellorizians in Australia have embraced the genealogical mapping of the island, and the genealogical site is expanding at a rapid pace. I am constantly uncovering new information and updating the site,” said Mr Cresswell.
Allan Cresswell was in Melbourne this weekend to run a second series of seminars at the Kastellorizian Association of Victoria’s clubrooms, to help Kastellorizian descendents in Victoria to navigate and add to the site. His visit is funded through a grant from the Multicultural Commission of Victoria.
Throughout its rich and varied history Kastellorizo has had many conquerors and rulers but maintained its Greek identity. Its population peaked in 1910 at 9,000. The island was devastatingly bombed in World War II, and finally came under Greek rule in 1948, by which time most of its inhabitants had migrated to other countries, and its population had dwindled to about 250. Its current permanent population hovers around 200 but increases dramatically in the tourist season.
The island of Kastellorizo, the most eastern port of the European Union, located close to Kas, on the Turkish mainland, is now experiencing a renaissance, with many descendants in Australia restoring and/or rebuilding family homes, or new homes, on the island, and regularly visiting.
The Kastellorizian Association of Victoria last year celebrated its 85th Anniversary, and has an active membership with several events planned for this year.