On This Day in 1829: The first Greeks arrived in Australia

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On this day in 1829, the first Greeks set foot in Australia. They were seven sailors who had been convicted of piracy in the Mediterranean sea by the British.

Their names were: Georgios Vasilakis, Gikas Voulgaris, Georgios Laritsos, Antonis Manolis, Damianos Ninis, Nikolaos Papandreas and Konstantinos Strompolis.

Bill Florence (Vassilios Florakis) traveled from Ithaca to Melbourne in 1922. Photo: In Their Own Image: Greek-Australians’, National Project Archives, Macquarie University, Sydney.

The name of the ship that brought them to Australia was also duly recorded. It was the British ship the Norfolk, and it brought a total of 192 other criminals, mainly from the United Kingdom, to the harsh continent to serve their sentences.

The voyage, which must have been a type of punishment in itself, lasted between 91 and 93 days and the captain was assumed to be Alexander Greig.

The Potiris family from Kythera, outside the “Canberra Dining Rooms,” a family business owned by them, in 1914. Photo: N. George for ‘In Their Own Image: Greek-Australians’.

Later on, despite the fact that the Greek authorities granted them an official amnesty, two of the men, Antonis Manolis and Gikas Voulgaris, decided to stay there, thereby beginning the long history of the Greek presence in Australia.

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