Georgios Tramountanas: The First Greek to Settle South Australia

 

Georgios (or George) Tramountanas is generally credited as being the first Greek to migrate to South Australia in 1842, according to the National Archives of Australia.

Born in Athens in 1822, Tramountanas was from a family of shipbuilders and seamen who lived on Lemnos island and had connections to Thessaloniki.

He arrived at Port Adelaide in 1842 with his brother Theodoros, who soon moved to Albany in Western Australia, never to be heard of again.

Georgios worked for some time in Port Adelaide before starting at Edward John Peake’s Winery after 1846 in Clarendon town. There he helped cultivate the early vines and made brandy and wines.

According to documents held in the Adelaide office of the National Archives, Tramountanas worked as a farmer near Elliston. He showed true pioneering spirit when he moved to the sparsely-populated Eyre Peninsula in the late 1850s.

Before his marriage to Englishwoman Lydia Vosper in 1858, he changed his name to George North, since his last name Tramountanas means northern wind in Greek. The couple moved to Port Lincoln where George found work as a shepherd.

There, George and Lydia had their first son George Henry in 1861 and a year later their second son, Hero Clare. Both sons got married in the 1880s and gave them several grandchildren.

In 1878, George North applied to become a naturalised settler in the Province of South Australia. He became a “Naturalised British subject” on April 8, 1878.

Early in 1884 the couple bought a property which fronted the Old Coach Road, just south-east of Bramfield. They named it “North Park” and it became a rest stop for travellers as the team of horses was changed over for the mail coach.

Late in life, the couple retired and lived their final years with their son Hero and his wife Rosina at their Newland Grange homestead at Colton, South Australia. George North died on Jan. 29, 1911 and his wife Lydia on November 20, 1913, survived by their two sons and 22 grandchildren.

George Tramountanas AKA George North, and his wife Lydia.

Greek heritage

The Greek Orthodox Community of South Australia honors George North as their pioneering grandfather. A memorial stone was placed at his gravesite in 1994 and local North descendants planted an Olive grove on the walkway leading to his grave.

Daryl Edmonds, Denise McEvoy, Paul Willis and Dianne Jaspers are four Australians who are descendants of Georgios Tramountanas. They don’t speak Greek and Hellenism means very little to them.

Yet, they were drawn to their roots, to the place of origin, to the man who started their Australian family tree. Thanks to the Greek Orthodox Community of South Australia (GOCSA) that restored the memory of Tramountanas, the four Australians discovered their Greek roots.

Since then, they spent hours on the Internet, read archives and visited libraries to find out where their roots lie. They visited cemeteries, farms, wineries, took trips to the places the clan and its descendants had lived in search of clues that would lead to the man who started it all, the great patriarch of the family.

Once they did, they started the Tramountanas-North Association, a vehicle to unite all the members of the wider family in Australia and the world.

[Sources: National Archives of Australia, Wikipedia, Neos Kosmos]