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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 25 October 2014
14 SATURDAY 25 OCTOBER 2014 A insight into the Greek Australian women beyond the stereotypes, from the 1820s to the present In her own image PART 1 LEONARD JANISZEWSKI AND EFFY ALEXAKIS 'What do you know about Greek women? Not much, you say. Some typical stereotypes, eh? Let me set the record straight. Oh yeh, you'll be surprised.' Haitho Massala, Greek Women, 1994 Pre-1835 Maria Barvides (Bartides) Greek women have been settling in Australia since at least 1835. An earlier Greek female presence - Maria Barvides (Bartides) - has been suggested to have occurred in the Swan River settlement in Western Australia in 1830, but it awaits firm corroboration of ethnicity and was only fleeting in nature. The stories of those Greek women who settled in Australia over almost the last two centuries are filled with successes, failures, hopes and dreams - of an Australia of challenges, a Greece of memory and a faith in the unfolding of a potentially unlimited future. Unfortunately, though, their stories have often been submerged beneath the voices of their male counterparts. Certainly, Greek migration to and settlement in Australia until the late 1950s and early 1960s was overwhelmingly male in terms of numbers, yet, those Greek women who did arrive before this time - limited in number as they were - equally provide strong evidence of pioneering purpose. Significantly, the social status of two early Greek female arrivals contrasted sharply to the Greek men, who arrived principally as convicts, sailors or gold-seekers. 1835 Katherine Crummer Katherine Crummer (nee Aikaterini Georgia Plessa) arrived in New South Wales in 1835 as the wife of a British army officer, Captain James Henry Crummer, who went on to hold various important positions in the colony, including chief magistrate in Newcastle. Katherine is the first confirmed 'free' Greek to settle in Australia and the earliest confirmed Greek female. Of Katherine and James' eleven children, seven were girls, and five of those were Australian- born. One of the girls, Augusta Louisa, married Frederick Eccleston Du Faur in 1866; Du Faur later became a Fellow of the Royal Society of New South Wales and president of the board of trustees of the New South Wales Art Gallery. 1859 Countess Diamantina Roma In 1859, Countess Diamantina Roma, of Venetian-Greek descent, arrived as the wife of Queensland's first governor, Sir George Bowen. After eight years in Queensland, Bowen was appointed governor-general of New Zealand. The couple returned to Australia in 1872 when Sir George accepted the position of governor of Victoria. Diamantina's philanthropic work in Australia was widely applauded by contemporaries and her name is still celebrated through place names: Roma Street, Lady Bowen Park and Roma Street Station in Brisbane; Diamantina River and the town of Roma in Queensland; and Diamantina Falls in Victoria. The Bowens left Australia for Mauritius in 1879. Of Diamantina and George's four children, three were girls and two of these were Australian-born. 1850s-1880s During the gold rush era (1850s-1880s) the number of Greek women in the Australian colonies was sparse. Traditionally, Greek migration was male dominated. Greek men, mostly young and single, would journey to foreign lands to seek material improvement for themselves, their parents and their siblings, particularly sisters, for whom dowries were mandatory. Given that a family's honour rested heavily upon the chastity of its female members, that an appropriate marriage was customarily secured through the dowry system, and that the socio-cultural preference for Greek women was to marry a fellow Hellene, Greek female migration Countess Diamantina Roma (engraving, Town & Country Journal, 1873). ENGRAVING COURTESY OF THE JOHN OXLEY LIBRARY, STATE LIBRARY OF QUEENSLAND, BRISBANE.
18 October 2014
1 November 2014