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New Cultural Centre set to revive iconic 20th century success of Castellorizian Association of NSW

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Once the most popular Greek hangout in Australia, the infamous Cazzie Club in Kingsford has been rebranded, relocated and reinvented into a new Castellorizian Cultural Centre, with an official name to be decided upon soon.

Castellorizian Association of NSW President George Pazanis spoke exclusively with The Greek Herald to share the details about the new Castellorizian Association premises, and what he hopes it will bring to the Greek community.

“It’s all about preserving what we have now, but most importantly about bringing back what we had,” Pazanis says to The Greek Herald.

“The old Castellorizian Club in Kingsford was the best Greek club or association house in all of Australia. Everybody knew it, it was iconic.”

“It’s been our dreams for the last six years to get this new place up and running.”

New Castellorizian Cultural Centre. Photo: Supplied

Opening in late November on the corner of Gardner’s road and Houston road, the new Castellorizian premises will have the Alevri Greek restaurant and bakery at the front of the store, which the President says he is most excited for.

“I’m pretty excited about the restaurant. I’ve always wanted something in there like a Mediterranean or Greek style restaurant, which are now lucky to have.”

On the rear side of the building, construction is soon to be started on a unique Castellorizian Cultural Centre. The “museum style centre” will be a public gallery of artefacts and paintings collected over the last 90 years. It will also feature a family tree information section, where future generations will be able to read up on their family’s history.

“It’s more about preserving the history of the people… because we came here over 100 years ago. Knowing their background and the island,” Pazanis says.

READ MORE: Remembering the Cazzie Club, jewel of the Greek community in Sydney
READ MORE: Second Vol. of Castellorizian migration book series brings readers into lives of early Greek-Australians

“In these trying times at the moment, with what’s going on in Greece with Turkey, we want to show that we are in full support of the island.

“It’s important that we realise that that is the most important thing, the island itself. And we pay homage to it with every house like this built around Australia.”

While the official name of the new Castellorizian Association of NSW premises is yet to be decided, Pazanis says the board has avoided the branding of the new cultural centre as a club, looking to bring a new and different opportunity to the community.

“We decided that the idea of calling it a club, with poker machines and alcohol, was not the way we wanted to go,” Pazanis explains.

“So we wanted to make it more of an association as a get-together place for people to come to.”

The new Greek hangout will also feature a brand new Castellorizian function centre, which will be able to house 120 people with an outdoor entertainment area.

“We will still do events like ladies bingo and Greek dancing lessons, like the old Cazzie club used to do. And once Covid is said and done, we’ll be able to do a lot more.”

A large investment by the Castellorizian Association of NSW, Pazanis says it will ultimately become an $8-9 million building.

“It’s been a really tough battle, trying to get the finances and get the building built.”

“We’ve always had constant roadblocks but we’ve just jumped over them. Because that’s the sort of spirit we have.”

Castellorizian migration book nominated for prestigious award

The second instalment of the Castellorizian Association of NSW’s migrant book series, titled Journey to a New Land Vol. 2, has recently been nominated for the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards 2021.

Nominated for the multicultural book category, it was released in July as the second part of a two volume series, highlighting the rich history of Cazzies in Australia.

“We, 7 women, a diverse range of practitioners drawn from various disciplines, are overjoyed to see recognition coming through for our heartfelt Oral History project, and we look forward to seeing the outcome of this nomination,” Anna Koutsis, Castellorizian Association of NSW History and Archives Committee member says.

“When I say ‘we’, I mean ‘all of us’ because this was a collective endeavour. We, Irene Elliott, Victoria Kazaglis -Gallagher, Maria Skyllas- Kazacos, Anna Koutsis, Despina Lucas, Petula Samios and Patricia Sechos feel it’s great to be nominated for something we feel so passionate about.

“In terms of what being nominated means to us, it is a great accolade and public recognition for what we have done.”

The series, broken up into two separate unique volumes, presents over 130 family stories and 700 precious old family photographs, which were produced and self-published by the History and Archives Committee of the Castellorizian Association of NSW. 

The first book released in 2018, Journey to a new land, brought readers into the early life of Castellorizian in their transition into Australian culture.

The stories, which provide one of the first, comprehensive studies of Castellorizian migrant memories, are about dislocation, hard work, and fitting in and rebuilding a community.

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