BOOK REVIEW: Wild Colonial Greeks by Peter Prineas


Anyone who knows me well would know that I’m an avid reader of all things romantic fiction, so when I was asked to review Peter Prineas’ new book, Wild Colonial Greeks, I have to admit I was a bit hesitant.

The book’s blurb spoke of all things history and “colonial times” and a quick flick through the pages made me aware of an over 50-page reference list – all things I typically don’t look for in a book.

But boy, was I wrong! From the minute I started reading, I was hooked.

Bringing colonial Greeks to life:

Wild Colonial Greeks not only brought to life Greeks who arrived on Australian shores in colonial times, but it also expertly weaved in how colonial Australia viewed these Greeks at the time through frequent newspaper reports.

Two Greeks who stood out to me in particular were the goldfields doctor, Spiridion Candiottis, and Melbourne port hotelier, Andreas Lagogiannis. Spiridion drew my attention due to his clear surgical skill and fight to be recognised as a legitimate doctor in Clermont, Queensland. The tragic circumstances of the death of his daughter, Eugenie, also highlighted the extreme hardships these Greeks faced in a foreign land.

Peter launched his book ‘Wild Colonial Greek’ in March.

Andreas on the other hand, surprised me for totally different reasons. He was constantly fighting to defend his name and honour in the local court and although some would say he didn’t understand the culture of the place, in my opinion he came across as someone who wasn’t willing to give up no matter what hardship was thrown his way.

Now, it must be mentioned here that as someone who is in the 20-30 age bracket, these specific stories resonated with me the most because the way they were written made me feel as though I wasn’t reading a historical book, but rather a narrative of the everyday lives of everyday people.

However, that’s not the only reason why the book is so relatable. In fact, I can definitely see how others might relate to the book even just for the simple fact that it focuses on migration stories and helps people understand how Greeks contributed to multicultural Australia right from the very beginning.

The first Greek:

And then of course there was one of the main aspects of Prineas’ book – its attempt to push back the date of Greek settlement in Australia by nearly six years.

Back in August 2020, I wrote a historical article for The Greek Herald about “the arrival of the first Greeks in 1829.” They were, according to the article, Georgios Vasilakis, Gikas Voulgaris, Georgios Laritsos, Antonis Manolis, Damianos Ninis, Nikolaos Papandreas and Konstantinos Strompolis. With this information already in my mind, I was unsure whether Prineas would be able to convince me that Greek settlement had actually occurred years before the arrival of these men, but he does.

Prineas points to a report in The Sydney Morning Herald dated June 28, 1878, which mentions the funeral at Castle Hill of a ‘George Manuel or George Emanuel’ who is said to have lived in the colony for 76 years – that would mean he arrived in Australia much earlier than the seven convicts.

Now, while I won’t spoil the rest of the supportive evidence for the readers of this article, I can guarantee you that Prineas makes some valid points for his argument that George was the first Greek to arrive in Australia. Valid enough to give his new book, Wild Colonial Greeks, a solid 9 / 10 rating. Although some chapters could’ve been shorter, with less newspaper references at times, I would still recommend this book to anyone who’s interested!




By subscribing you accept our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.


Latest News

Michael Christofas named finalist in prestigious Percival Photographic Portrait Prize

Michael Christofas has been named finalist in North Queensland's prestigious Percival Photographic Portrait Prize.

Federation of Greek Elderly Citizens Clubs of Victoria elect new executive

The Board of Directors of the Federation of Greek Elderly Citizen Clubs of Melbourne & Victoria voted on its new seven-member board.

SEKA Victoria objects to formation of Parliamentary Friends of Azerbaijan group

SEKA Victoria have today expressed concern that some MPs are considering the establishment of a Parliamentary Friends of Azerbaijan group.

Pan-Laconian Association of NSW “The Spartans” celebrate taverna night

The Pan-Laconian Association of NSW "The Spartans" celebrated a highly successful taverna night at Zarax House on June 15.

Sydney doctor Peter Alexakis wins appeal to keep patient’s $24 million estate

Dr Peter Alexakis was victorious in the NSW Court of Appeal which ruled he had not convinced a patient to leave him most of his $24m estate.

You May Also Like

New study reveals ancient Greek temples constructed with disability ramps

Ancient Greeks were the pioneers of technological and structural development. Having built some of the greatest Wonder's of the Ancient World, the Greeks certainly...

Turkish Foreign Minister accuses Greece and Cyprus of harbouring terrorists

Turkish Foreign Minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, has accused Greece and Cyprus on Thursday of sponsoring terrorists.

Hellenic Club of Canberra get innovative during lockdown with takeaway Drive-Thru

If you're after a delicious lunch or dinner, you can still pick up takeaway orders at The Hellenic Club of Canberra's Drive-Thru at Woden.