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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 8 November 2014
For some the prospect of a family reunion would have people faking illnesses or purposely missing flights. But for this family, it's a lit- tle bit different. Documented as one of the earliest and most prolific Greek migrant families in Darwin, the Haritos family is now organising a mammoth reunion to mark the 100 year anniversary of their grandfa- ther's arrival to the Northern Territory. Eustratios Haritos settled in Darwin in 1915 and had eight children, from which sprung a whole Greek empire. The family has had a hand in everything from pearl div- ing, salt works and crocodile hunting, as they've spread far and wide around the North- ern Territory and Australia. Now the challenge is to rus- tle every living relative back to Darwin for a colossal reun- ion in 2015. Michael Anthony Haritos has taken charge of the pro- ceedings, and has teed up some impressive activities. The family will have a stall at the annual Darwin Greek Glendi in June, showing off some amazing old photos of the family and giving every- one a bit of a history lesson at the same time. Buses have been hired to take the family on a guided tour of grandfather Eustra- tios' old haunts. It's going to be a big week- end for the family. Adrienne Haritos is com- ing up from Canberra and says the bus trip is going to include some spots most members of the family will remember. "We're going to do a trip around Darwin in a bus, just pointing out a few sites that might not exist in the same way anymore because the town's grown a lot, but we'll have a look at the salt pan and we'll go out to the har- bour," she tells Neos Kosmos. "The family had an old tin hut on the harbour where the family used to stay rec- reationally and we'll visit that on the harbour trip as well." The Haritos family created a lot of firsts for the Greek community of Darwin. Eustratios is thought to be the first to have a traditional Greek wedding in the territo- ry. Eustratios and his fiancé Eleni Harmanis had no choice but to ship a Greek priest from Perth to perform the service as no priest had settled in Dar- win. Yet. Only a small influx of about 1,000 Greek migrants arrived in the city between 1914 and 1919 as they looked for work as WWI broke out. Since it was such a rarity to have a Greek Orthodox priest at the time, Eustratios organ- ise for his wedding to become a double wedding, with his friend piggybacking on the service, getting married to Eleni's sister. With a working knowl- edge of how to extract salt - something he learnt from his hometown of Moschoni- si in Asia Minor - Eustratios started a salt pan business with fellow Greek migrants, John Sphakinakis and Dick Colivas to service the newly built meatworks. Keeping close to the wa- ter, Eustratios made sure his eight children would embrace that Greek love of the sea and created a number of business- es linked to it. The four Haritos boys fished, pearled and hunted crocodiles for their hides, as Eustratios shipped supplies to the small Aboriginal coastal communi- ties of North Australia. The Haritos family also es- tablished the barramundi trade down south and eventu- ally kick-started the industry as they began exporting the fish to Melbourne in 1956. As impressive a business- man as Eustratios was, he was a quiet man. "Grandfather wasn't a great talker, he was a hard worker, a sober kind of guy," Adrienne Haritos says. Quite different to his wife, Eleni. "She worked hard in the heat of Darwin raising the chil- dren in the frontier town, es- tablishing the family busi- ness and keeping chickens to sell the fresh eggs," Adrienne remembers. "A cheerful, loving lady." Amazingly, Eustratios in- vested a lot of time trying to tame Darwin's icon, the croc- odile, something his children immediately took on board. One of his sons, George, kept a 13-foot crocodile in his backyard as a pet and even helped the Duke of Ed- inburgh, Prince Phillip, shoot and skin a crocodile in the 1950s. More than 100 family mem- bers have been contacted for the reunion and are set to ar- rive on June 6 2015. They're in the process of booking a large hall to host the open- ing event. 2 SATURDAY 8 NOVEMBER 2014 Page 13 Through the eyes of a Zimbabwean Greek Page 7 Heavenly Art AUSTRALIA Darwin's oldest Greek family to reunite at Glendi The Haritos family migrated to Australia almost 100 years ago, and now the family's living ancestors are organising a huge reunion HELEN VELISSARIS George Haritos with Japanese pearling crew, c.1949. The Haritos salt pan. John Sphakinakis and Nick Haritos with grouper, 1949. The Fram, a Haritos brothers boat, unloading pearl shell at Hornibrook Wharf, Frances Bay. The Haritos family. Eustratios Haritos and his wife Eleni.
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