Greek City Times is proud to present a weekly historical snapshot
from the archives of the national project “In Their Own Image: Greek Australians”
by photographer Effy Alexakis and historian Leonard Janiszewski.
Greeks have been migrating and settling in Australia since the very beginning of the 19th century. The descendants of these early settlers offer personal perspectives on generational notions of Australian identity, diasporic Hellenic identity and cultural hybridity. Here we present Part 2, featuring the descendants of the 19th century Greek arrivals.
Clio Whittaker (born Doscas) Safety Bay, WA, 1987 (Photo by Effy Alexakis)
Clio’s father was John Doscas (Ioannis Paraskevas Doskas/Ntoscas), a Spartan who arrived in Melbourne in 1889. In Melbourne he worked as an interpreter and tour leader for Thomas Cook and Company. Moving to Perth in 1896, he established himself as an importer, general merchant, agricultural produce agent and real estate investor. Doscas was also responsible for introducing the keeping of Saarnen goats (a German breed) to Western Australia. In 1907, he was elected to the council of Cottesloe. Retaining the post for the next forty-two years, he served one term as mayor – John Street in Cottesloe is named after him. In 1897 he married Clio’s mother, Mrs. Margaret Coleman (née O’Sullivan), who was a widow with one child. Margaret’s origin was Irish. Clio was born at the turn of the century.
“My first name was Arethusa [Arethusa Clio]. Dad loved Greek mythology – I had to have a Greek name. “A child should be given a name to look up to,” the father said. When they sent me to school, people didn’t remember… My stepbrother [Apollo Ernest Doscas]… my father had him baptized in the Greek Orthodox Church… I got married in 1949 in the Greek Orthodox Church. My husband was Stan Whittaker… [He] I was in the British Army…I lived in an Australian community… [But] I love going to Greek parties.
Dosca Family Cottesloe, Perth, WA, circa 1910 From left to right: John, Apollo Ernest, Clio and Margaret. Photo courtesy of C. Whittaker, from the National Project Archive ‘In Their Own Image: Greek-Australians’
Betty and Mack’s maternal great-grandfather was Vacillius Macryannis who had arrived in New South Wales around 1851, apparently “jumping ship” to join the gold rush. It seems he spent the rest of his life as a miner in the goldfields of mid-west New South Wales – first on the lower Turon River and later around the Twin Towns of Hill End and Tambaroora. He married Matilda Collins in Bathurst in 1858 (as very few Greek women emigrated during the Gold Rush, Greek men mostly married women of British descent). The couple had nine children. A shop, which Vacillius acquired on Clarke Street in Hill End, is said to have remained in family hands well into the 1910s – it may have been a general store. Vacillius died in 1889, aged sixty-seven, and was buried in Hill End-Tambaroora Catholic Cemetery.
Betty: “Discovered [about my Greek forebear] about five years ago… better than the Irish coming out of me.
Mac: “I said I knew where the nose came from! I didn’t even think about it [my Greek background]. It was something interesting that I wanted to follow… I don’t know what killed the Greek interest.
Adele Ayres, who was born in Tambaroora Township and attended school there at the very beginning of the 20th century, remembers the Macryannis family and another Greek family they married – Manolatos:
“I knew the [Greek] families who still lived in the “Greek city” [located on the north-western outskirts of Tambaroora – near the Chinese camp – and recognised as the first collective settlement of Greeks in Australia; totaling approximately 100 individuals]. There was Mrs. Manolatos (a widow), Jimmy, Ethel, Emma, Alice, Susan and Alec (his children). Mrs. Manolatos’ sister Helen (or Ellen) Macryannis lived with her brother Jack Macryannis in the house which was their parents’ home. In the house next door was Peter Macryannis who was married and had several children who attended the same school. There was another sister, Mrs Ann Bluett who lived in the town, there were also three other brothers, one was Mick… Saddest of all, these families fell victim to ‘consumption’, known as TB [tuberculosis – an airborne infectious disease which particularly affected miners due to their working conditions]. At various stages of their lives, tuberculosis set in, and nothing at that time could be done to save them. In the Catholic cemetery of Tambaroora, there were fourteen or fifteen graves of these families. “Greek Town” and Tambarrora are now gone. »
Bill D’Angri is the great-grandson of Natalie D’Angri who was born in Corfu in 1827. Bill enthusiastically researched her family background for several years and was keen to find out as much as he could regarding his Greek. ancestor:
“I was the only one who knew there was another branch of the family…I was able to make contact…and wonder of wonders, they had lots of original documents belonging to Natale. They asked me if I would be interested in them? It was like winning the Tattslotto!… The D’Angry children were brought up in this house…”
Bill died in 2008, at the age of eighty-five.
Arriving in Melbourne in 1852, Natale D’Angri (Natale Spiridion Giorgio Angri), headed for the goldfields of Ballarat and quickly became rich by digging a claim with a group of Italians and Greeks called the Italiana Hole. Although his father was from Naples, D’Angri was born to a Greek mother on the Ionian island of Corfu and his obituary makes it clear that he “was not an Italian, but a Greek”. With his small fortune, D’Angri returned to Corfu and toured Europe extensively before returning to Ballarat. In 1856 he married Eliza Watts in Melbourne. Naturalized in 1861, in 1869 he and Peter Lalor (of Eureka Stockade fame) became partners in two mines at Creswick, just north of Ballarat. In the same year D’Angri formed (for the benefit of himself and the other Greeks of Ballarat – perhaps 20 in total at the time) the Lebentia Rowing Club – the first Greek sports club in Australia. Later in life, he became a nurseryman as well as a pioneer member of the Ballarat Horticultural Society, and even had a pumpkin weighing 136 pounds (pounds) selected for display at the 1886 Colonial and Indian Exhibition in London. . D’Angri died in Ballarat in 1897, aged 70.
Photos: Effy Alexakis
Historical research: Leonard Janiszewski
© In Their Image: Greek-Australian National Project Archives
ABOUT EFFY ALEXAKIS & LEONARD JANISZEWSKI
Since the early 1980s, photographer Effy Alexakis and historian researcher Leonard Janiszewski have traveled across Australia to photograph and collect stories. They have also photographed Greek-Australians in Greece and documented amazing stories. Images and text provide personal, diverse and powerfully moving insights into opportunities, hopes and challenges. Collectively, these stories offer personal perspectives of a diasporic Hellenic identity. Their archive encompasses photography, both historical and contemporary, recorded interviews and literary documents.
They have published 3 books and numerous articles, and their projects are ongoing. The photographs have been widely exhibited throughout Australia and Greece.
VISIT THEIR LATEST PROJECT: Australian Greek Cafes and Milk Bars | Facebook