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 1 of a 3 part series featuring descendants of Greek arrivals in the 19th century.
Born in Yass, New South Wales, in 1932 – the third of five children – Doreen’s parents were Amy Doreen Bulgarias and John Joseph Field. Doreen is a great-granddaughter of Ghikas Boulgaris (Jekeir Bulgeires) – Boulgaris is recognized as one of Australia’s first Greek settlers, having arrived as a convict in 1829 (one of seven Greek sailors convicted of “piracy ” and transported to Australia – eventually, what remains of sentences was remitted, five leaving for Greece and two, Boulgaris and Andonis Manolis deciding to stay). Doreen’s mother, Amy, was the daughter of James Manolis Bulgarias who was the fifth son of Ghikas Boulgaris; Ghikas had married Mary A. Lyons – originally from Cork, Ireland – in 1836, and the union produced five sons and five daughters.
Doreen and her husband, Jack, moved to the Northern Territory in 1971.
“Ghikas Boulgaris is my great-grandfather…I have always been very proud of him…recently at a speech night I was asked to talk about myself…I like to think of myself as an ordinary Aussie… So I spoke of great-grandfather. [Ghikas Boulgaris] and the Irish part of our family…and how happy I was that they all settled in Australia no matter what they had to suffer…I think the diversity of our multicultural society is what makes Australia such a great country… I think what came out of both sides of the family I was born into – my mum’s side and my dad’s side – was hard work, family, the right to to express your opinions and the right to express your religious opinions.
Ellen Rose Purcell
George North (Georgios Tramountanas), South Australia’s first confirmed Greek settler, was Ellen’s great-grandfather. George, who is recorded as being born in Athens, arrived in Port Adelaide in 1842 – allegedly with his brother Theodore, who left for Western Australia. Soon after, George changed his name to “North” (his Greek surname means “north wind”). In 1858 he married English-born Lydia Vosper. Eventually becoming a highly respected rancher on the Eyre Peninsula, George died in 1911, leaving to mourn Lydia and her two sons, George Henry North and Hero Clair North. Ellen’s grandfather was Hero, who in 1885 had married Rose (Rosina) Boylan. Alexander Clair North, Ellen’s father, was born the following year. Ellen was born in 1914.
“I was always told that my great-grandfather was Greek… My father used to sing a Greek song and say the alphabet, he [great-grandfather] taught him that… Hero [grandfather] used to dance… with the white handkerchiefs… it must have been the Greek dance… The whole family is very musical. It must be from the Greek when you think about it… Hero people were very musical… it’s not from the Boylans, because the Boylans don’t have music in them… I was always interested [in my family’s origins]… my career has fascinated me. It is a mixture of origins – English, Greek and Irish… [yet] we always had some comments: “Beautiful children, but too bad they are Greek”.
“The idea of having a Greek background prompted me to research the family…great-grandfather Dennis Keys was the starting point. My father was a sectarian Anglican… if you had anything to do with those ‘fat dagos’, or anything to do with the Greeks, it was quiet soon.
Mavis’ great-grandfather, Dionysios Corkuchakeys (Korkoutsakis) anglicized his name to Dennis Keys. Born in Corfu, his date of arrival is unknown, but in 1857 he married Annie Stubbs in Tarnagulla, Victoria. They had eight daughters and one son – only the latter, Nicholas, was recorded. Dennis seems to have been one of a handful of Greek gold miners who were partners in the famous Corfu reef of Tarnagulla. He died in 1881 – his age was fifty-six – and was buried in Melbourne Cemetery.
Mavis began injecting herself into her local Greek community in an effort to regain an ancestral cultural heritage that had been previously denied to her. His newfound pride was apparently well fed.
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. The 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