George Frazis (Editor), John Yiannakis (Editor), Marianthi Oikonomakou (Editor), George Papantonakis (Editor), Yorgos Christidis (Editor), Eleni Gavras (Editor)

    Research output: Book/ReportEdited Book


    This publication is part of a broader research project that continues to throw light principally on the migration, settlement and adaptation of Greeks to the Northern Territory. This, our second volume, seeks in part to further tell the stories of Greek settlers to North Australia pre and post WWII. As with the first volume of the series, there are included in this publication papers from our 2019 international conference of the same name, Perspectives on the Hellenic Diaspora. The second international conference was held over three days, but on this occasion was conducted synchronously online from Darwin, Rhodes and Thessaloniki.

    The Greek diaspora refers to the communities of Greek people living outside the traditional Greek homelands of Greece and Cyprus, in parts of the world, such as the United States, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Germany, Serbia, Brazil, the UK, Russia or other countries around the world. However, as the paper by Kanarakis explores the diaspora, its characteristics and usage are more complex than this simple explanation.

    As many readers would be aware, as part of this diaspora, 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 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. By 1918, the foundations of a Greek community, albeit an unstable one, had been laid.

    The Greek presence in Darwin, however, 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 reached 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.
    Darwin has gone from being a frontier town to the “jewel” of the North and Greeks have helped to make this happen. As other papers presented in this volume illustrate, the Greek diaspora has this effect on all societies where it is present.

    The range of topics covered in the papers presented in this publication are diverse, covering biographies of notable ‘top enders’ and comparisons in the experiences of Greek settlers across Australian states to discussions about diverse matters, including language and literature, pertaining to Greece, the Balkans, and the wider Greek diaspora, including New Zealand.

    This assorted collection of papers is a further offering the editors believe readers will find interesting and informative. It continues to demonstrate the importance and contribution of the Hellenic diaspora to the Northern Territory, Australia and the world.

    Original languageEnglish
    Place of PublicationDarwin
    PublisherCharles Darwin University
    Number of pages290
    ISBN (Print)978-1-925800-70-8
    Publication statusPublished - 10 May 2021


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