GREEK AUSTRALIANS IN THEIR IMAGE: GEORGE HARITOS

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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.


GEORGE HARITOS – ADVENTURER

The need for a sense of adventure drove the Greeks to explore and utilize the commercial potential of Australian waters – one such adventurer was George Haritos.

George Haritos, Darwin, NT, 1987 (Photo: Effy Alexakis)

George Haritos was not only a coastal barge captain, barramundi and pearl fisherman, but also a water buffalo hunter and crocodile shooter. His father, Efstratios George Haritos, was born in Mytilene (Lesvos) and arrived in Darwin in 1915. Two years later Efstratios married Eleni Harmanis/Hermanis. George was born in 1920 – one of eight siblings (four boys and four girls).

Growing up in Darwin in the 1930s, George considered the surrounding area a hunting paradise: “You could shoot wild geese a few miles from Darwin without having to get out of the vehicle… We walked through the marsh like the plains dried and speared the barramundi… There they were, lying side by side in the shallows… Later we were the first to sell the barramundi commercially… and established an interstate market for the fish. Crocodile and water buffalo hunting in Northern Territory waters in the 1940s, 50s and 60s – mainly for their skins [for commercial sale] – was for George, “thrilling and spectacular in itself”, even if “I didn’t shoot anything just for the pleasure of shooting”. Killing wild animals for “sport” was anathema to George. He had shot his first crocodile when he was 15 and had quickly learned to understand and “respect” them: “I’m afraid [still]Yes but I [now] know most of their reactions.

In the 1940s and 1950s, George formed a partnership with Jim Edwards and hunted crocodiles all over the land, from the Gulf of Carpentaria to the western Australian border; sometimes they were joined on their hunting trips by a reptile expert, Eric Worrell. Haritos and Edwards are accredited with the highly successful innovation of nighttime spotlight shooting of crocodiles, known as ‘spotlighting’ – using this technique animals could be shot or speared more easily. In the late 1940s, Haritos and his brother Michael took Australian Immigration Minister Arthur Calwell to “shed light” on crocodiles.

In 1952, Haritos and Edwards captured two live crocodiles in the territory’s Mary River delta for Australian director Charles Chauvel – the reptiles were needed for film scenes. ‘Jedda’. Four years later Haritos was asked to take the Duke of Edinburgh on a crocodile hunting expedition – the Duke was in Australia to officially open the 1956 Melbourne Olympics.

George kept a famous crocodile he captured in the backyard of his house in Darwin (in an enclosure). Haritos allegedly caught “Albert” in 1958 at the request of someone who wanted a crocodile as an attraction at a party. After the event, the individual no longer wanted the 3.9m reptile. George considered ‘Albert’ to be “not quite like my dog, but I have a special bond and special care for the animal”.

George died in 1992.

GREEK AUSTRALIANS IN THEIR IMAGE: GEORGE HARITOS - CROCODILE MAN 4

Returning from a successful crocodile hunt, near Darwin, NT, late 1940s. Left to right: Arthur Calwell (then Australia’s first immigration minister), Jock Nelson (Labour member for the Northern Territory), Carl Atkinson (renowned diver and salvage expert) and Michael Haritos. Photo courtesy L. and H. Haritos, of “In their image: the Greek-Australians” National Project Archive.

George Haritos often undertook crocodile hunting with his brothers Michael, Jack and Ningle (Nicholas).

GREEK AUSTRALIANS IN THEIR IMAGE: GEORGE HARITOS - CROCODILE MAN 5
George Haritos with ‘Albert’, Darwin, NT, 1987 (Photo by Effy Alexakis)

Note: Like George Haritos, the authors do not support the killing of wild animals for sport.


Photos: Effy Alexakis
Historical research: Leonard Janiszewski

© In Their Image: Greek-Australian National Project Archives


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

Keywords:
Arthur Calwell, Athens, Australia, Charles Chauvel, Crocodile Man, Darwin, Effy Alexakis, Eleni Harmanis, George Haritos, George Haros, Golden Greeks, Great Depression, greece, Greek Australians, Greek migrants, Gulf of Carpentaria, Hellenic Identity, Kythera, Lesvos, Manitohori, Melbourne, Milk Bar, Mytilene, Northern Territory, Rome, Sydney, Tasmania
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