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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 25 October 2014
SATURDAY 25 OCTOBER 2014 15 FEATURE was certainly not popularly contemplated. In the 1857 census of Australia's leading gold colony of Victoria, only two Greek women are listed. Five years later the figure had risen to thirteen, and in the colony's 1871 census, out of a total of well over 300 members of the 'Greek Church', twenty-seven were noted as female - nineteen of these women were born in Greece. Twenty-five of the 1871 Greek female tally were registered on the goldfields. The names of two of these twenty-five have been uncovered: Augusta Ammuretti and Maria Vlasopoulou. 1820 Augusta Ammuretti Born in 1820, Augusta Ammuretti arrived in Australia in 1871 and although her name implies an Italian connection, when she registered herself at Mosquito Flat in the gold town of Maryborough, Victoria, her religion was noted as being that of the 'Greek Church'. Maria Vlasopoulou (nee Lamberis) married Theodoros Vlasopoulos in Greece and migrated to Western Australia in 1870 before moving to Victoria in 1871. She died in Melbourne in 1911. 1886 Maria Argyrou (nee Morou) The personal identity of another Greek female who arrived during the Australian gold rush era has also been confirmed. In 1886 Maria Argyrou (nee Morou) appears to have either accompanied or immediately followed her husband, Dimitrios Argyros, to Sydney; they had been married in Greece in 1879. Athina - another ‘golden Greek’ Athina Florence may be the name of yet another 'golden Greek' female arrival. In 1880 Athina married Efstathios Androulakis in Melbourne. She and her husband later moved to Newcastle in New South Wales. Athina's suggested Greek ethnicity is still to be positively verified. The women of ‘Greek Town’ Maria Vlasopoulou, Maria Argyrou and Augusta Ammuretti evidence the pattern, of which Katherine Crummer and Diamantina Roma also form a part, that most Greek women arriving in Australia - even during the twentieth century - were doing so as 'dependants' (such as wives, daughters, sisters and mothers) rather than as socially and economically independent individuals. The Greek male presence on various gold mining districts in both Victoria and New South Wales - such as at Ballarat, Maryborough, Tarnagulla, Castlemaine, Bendigo, St Arnaud, Dunolly and Talbot (Black Creek) in the former, and Tambaroora, Gulgong, Braidwood, Araluen, Young (Lambing Flat) and Parkes in the latter - reveal a number of Greek miners with Australian-born female offspring from mixed marriages (principally to British Australian women). 'Greek Town' in Tambaroora, in the central western goldfields of New South Wales, was particularly prominent in this regard. In 'Greek Town', over forty daughters of Greek miners have presently been identified. These include Mary Makriyannis; Evelyn Matilda Makriyannis; Aspasia Vasilakis (Williams); Anthea Vasilakis (Williams); Maria Doikos; Fanny Catherine Doikos; Maria (Marina) Christina Lalekhos; Florence Marie Lalekhos; Aphrodite Mahala Moustakas; Cassandra Moustakas; Helen Lambert; Aspasia Garyphalia Nichols; Sophia Emma Nichols; Mary Ann Dimond; and Ellen Agnes Manolatos. 'Greek Town' Tambaroora, together with Mosquito Flat in Marybourough on Victoria's 'Midland' goldfields, appear to be the earliest 'collective' settlements of Greeks in Australia. At Mosquito Flat, records have currently revealed four Australian-born daughters of Greek miners: Angela Capitaneas, Mary Vasopolos (Vlasopoulos), Lucy Vasopolos (Vlasopoulos) and Alexandria Christie. Further research is likely to provide more. Of course, some of the limited number of pre-1850s Greek male arrivals in Australia also fathered Greek Australian daughters - Ghikas Boulgaris (arrived 1829) had five daughters, Samuel Donnes (arrived 1837) had four daughters, John Peters (arrived late 1830s) had six daughters, and George North (arrived 1842), just one. A few of the daughters of both pre-1850s and gold rush Greek male and female arrivals may have retained some cultural aspects of their father's or mother's Greek ethnicity. Most however, given the host society's racial and cultural biases - which in 1901 became nationally and officially legitimised in legislation that was popularly known as the 'White Australia' policy - seem to have firmly assimilated into British Australian life. Interestingly though, from the early 1970s, with successive Australian governments (the Whitlam, Fraser, Hawke and then Keating governments) embracing and promoting a 'multicultural' Australia, it appears that some female descendants of early Greek settlers have attempted to regain parts of their ancestral cultural legacy which previous generations had been denied. This is evidenced in the lives of Robyn Margaret Johnson (nee Lowry), a great- great-great-granddaughter of Katherine Crummer, Doreen McTaggart (nee Field), a great-granddaughter of convict Ghikas Boulgaris, Joan Clarke (nee Willmott), a great-granddaughter of John Peters one of the earliest 'free' Greek arrivals, and Mavis Deards, a great-grand-daughter of gold miner Dennis Keys (Dionysios Korkoutsakis). Precise Greek female population figures for the Australian colonies during the gold rush period, the remainder of the late nineteenth century, and even into the opening decades of the new century after federation - may never be fully acquired. Names tended to be anglicised for assimilation purposes, and documents are often devoid of references to ethnicity, religion, personal characteristics, language spoken, and place of birth (and when place of birth is revealed, it is not always an indicator of ethnic origin, particularly for those Greeks born outside of Greece). Nevertheless, in the 1890s and early 1900s - with Greek men finding more stable income particularly in food catering and goods trades, and their numbers continuing to grow through chain migration - the presence of Greek women in Australia notably increased. As such, the ratio of males to females born in Greece steady declined within Australia as the early twentieth century advanced - from 16:1 in 1911, to 6:1 a decade later, and less than 4:1 in 1933. *This article is an edited excerpt from the In Their Own Image: Greek Australians National Project Archives, by Leonard Janiszewski and Effie Alexakis. All the photos are part of the project. The Begona, a ‘bride ship’, 1957. On its voyage to Australia in mid-1957, the Begona carried 630 female passengers. The total number of passengers was 688. PHOTO COURTESY N. PIRTIDIS. Katherine Crummer (nee Aikaterini Georgia Plessos), probably taken in Sydney, NSW, late nineteenth century. Katherine is the earliest known Greek woman to settle permanently in Australia and the first ‘free’ Greek settler. PHOTO: COURTESY R. AND P. CRUMMER, COPIED FROM THE ORIGINAL DAGUERREOTYPE.
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