Perspectives on the Hellenic Diaspora

David Carment (Editor), George Frazis (Editor), John Yiannakis (Editor), George Kanarakis (Editor), Vasilia Kourtis Kazoullis (Editor), Marianthi Oikonomakou (Editor), George Papantonakis (Editor)

    Research output: Book/ReportEdited Book


    Perspectives on the Hellenic Diaspora from Darwin

    The project associated with this publication aims for original research to highlight migration, settlement and adaptation of Greeks to the Northern Territory. The stories of pioneer Greek settlers to North Australia pre and post WWII, are to be highlighted with the aim of revealing the life, hardships and achievements of Greek Territorians to the Northern Territory and to Australia in general. This volume, however, includes broader papers from our 2017 international conference, Perspectives on the Hellenic Diaspora, which looked at the Greek diaspora in Darwin, Australia and further afield. The conference was held in three parts, over three days on a global stage: Darwin, Rhodes and Thessaloniki.  
    Greeks began arriving to Australia’s ‘top end’ in small numbers at the outbreak of the Great War. By the time the war had ended, the Greek presence in the Northern Territory had grown considerably. Darwin became attractive as a source of seasonal labour during and after the First World War. Most of these arrivals were male sojourners and often they were transients travelling for work between the Territory, Queensland and Western Australia. Many of these men were Castellorizians seeking a steady income stream by which they could send for relatives or to amass enough funds to return home. In the tropical North, a majority found themselves working for wages with Vestey’s meatworks, the government or other contractors. Others opened their own small businesses. Either way, the usual prejudice against migrants was experienced by all. As Michael Christie states, “Although the Greeks, and other foreigners, were indispensable to northern development, they were rarely welcomed.” Nevertheless, during 1918 the foundations of a Greek community, albeit an unstable one, had been laid.
    The Greek presence in Darwin didn’t truly solidify until after 1947. It was then that Greek Cypriots, Macedonians and especially Kalymnians began arriving in large numbers, encouraged by the Commonwealth government’s mass migration scheme. Following the Agreement reach between Greece and Australia through the Intergovernmental Committee for European Migration (ICEM), in 1952, decisions were made to extend the scheme to grow the local pearling industry by recruiting to northern Australia, sponge divers from the island of Kalymnos. Destined for Broome and Darwin, the 1954 experiment of using Greek sponge divers as pearlers in the deeper, darker waters off the Australian coast failed. However, the seeds for the large-scale migration of settlers from Kalymnos to Darwin had been spawned. Over the next two decades Kalymnians would come to dominate Darwin’s Greece-born population as they moved into building and construction industries as well as small business. Darwin would soon have a church and hall, along with a range of Hellenic organisations. By the late 1970s, Greeks were firmly entrenched in the social, economic and political fabric of Darwin. By then, multiculturalism was not just government policy but an integral facet of Australian life. As they had done since the early twentieth century, Greeks would continue to contribute significantly to the development of the Northern Territory.
    The range of topics covered in the papers presented in this publication are diverse, covering the migration and settlement of Kalymnians to Darwin, while pre-1920s Greek transients to the Territory are examined in another paper, and a Greek outback pioneer showcased elsewhere. The Greek Orthodox Church in the diaspora, the Indigenous influence on Greek cultural developments in Australia and vice versa, the work of missionaries in Anatolia, and the Greek influence in Ottoman economics and transport are also discussed.
    This eclectic collection is our first offering but one the editors believe readers will find interesting and informative. It demonstrates both the individuality and consistency of the Hellenic diasporic experience in the Northern Territory, Australia and elsewhere.
    Original languageEnglish
    Place of PublicationDarwin
    PublisherCharles Darwin University
    Number of pages221
    ISBN (Electronic)9781925800098
    ISBN (Print)9781925800098
    Publication statusPublished - Feb 2019

    Publication series

    NameHellenic Diaspora
    PublisherCharles Darwin University


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