Flashback to the Day the First Greeks Arrived in Australia

Coal miners in Hill End-Tambaroora of New South Wales, early 1870’s. Among them Jeremiah Williams (Jerasimos Vassilakis) in the center of the picture. Copyright: Holtermann collection of the State Library ΝΝΟ.

It was a day like this, August 27 in 1829 when the first ever recorded Greeks set foot in Australia. They were seven convicted pirates in the Mediterranean sea who were ready to serve their sentences on this land, thousands of miles away from their country.

Later on, and despite the fact that the Greek Authorities granted an official amnesty, two of the men decided to stay there, starting the long history of the Greek presence in Australia. Their names were Antonis Manolis and Gikas Voulgaris.

Bill Florence (Vassilios Florakis) went from Ithaca to Melbourne in 1922. Copyright: In Their Own Image: Greek-Australians’, National Project Archives, Macquarie University, Sydney

The ship that brought them there was the British Norfolk and during their journey, they were among 192 other criminals, mainly from the United Kingdom. The voyage lasted between 91 and 93 days and the captain was assumed to be Alexander Greig.

Potiris family from Kythera, outside the Canberra Dining Rooms, a family business owned by them in 1914. Copyright: N. George for ‘In Their Own Image: Greek-Australians’.

The Greeks started sporadically migrating to Australia later on, but the main wave of migration didn’t happen until after the Second World War, resulting in the large numbers of Greek Communities in Australia we know today.