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George Poulos

Genealogy Research Aids - in Australia

Written by Peter Tsicalas some years ago. However, still a very useful point of departure for would-be genealogy researchers into the 21st century.

The following ultra-helpful tips about how to conduct genealogy research in Australia has been appropriated from,


Genealogy Research in Australia

History of Migration

Greeks had a presence in Australia, as either convicts or free immigrants, from the earliest days of settlement, but their numbers did not become significant until the gold rushes of the 1850's - 1870's. Even so, by the turn of the century there were still only about 1,000 Greeks in the whole country, almost half of whom were living in NSW and the majority of these in Sydney.

Most came from the Ionian islands which were under a British protectorate from 1815 to 1864. Migration accelerated from about 1900, so much that by the start of WW1 numbers had doubled to just over 2,000, of whom only about 150 were females.

By the start of WW2 over 10,000 Greeks had settled in Australia and the Kytherians, who constituted about 22% of the total, were by far the dominant regional group.
From the turn of the century through to the 1940's most Greeks, primarily young single males, arrived from coastal Greece and the Greek islands with three islands predominating: Kythera, Ithaca and Kastellorizo.

In Sydney, NSW and southern QLD the Kytherians were the most prominent regional group, whose numbers built through a process of chain migration.Their main avenue of employment was in the food catering trades and the expansion of Greek shop-keeping and cafe proprietorship throughout NSW and QLD is largely a Kytherian story.

The sterotypical Greek cafe and milk bar developed after about 1912 with the arrival of Greek migrants coming via the USA.

The first Kytherian in Australia has been provisionally identified as Emmanouil Kritharis, who reputedly arrived in 1854.

However, the most significant early Kytherian was Athanasios Kominos, whose success in the seafood retailing industry stimulated a wave of migration from Kythera. Athanasios was born in the village of Perlengianika near Potamos in 1844, one of six children of Dimitrios Kominos and his wife Agape, nee Menega, and arrived in Sydney in 1873. By 1878 he had established a small fish shop at 36, Oxford Street - Sydney, the success of which set the pattern of chain migration which saw the number of Kytherians in Sydney grow to 150 by about 1908.

By 1911 there were about 400 throughout NSW, representing 50% of the Greek born population of the state.
The world wide depression of the 1890's and Kythera's mounting pressure of population gave added impetus for young Kytherians to follow Athanasios' example. They found however, that conditions in Australia were just as bad as those at home and that hard work, long hours, persistence and drive were vital prerequisites for survival. Their initial intention was material enrichment and return, but at some stage the lure of enduring economic security turned immigrants into permanent settlers. Many did return, but through to WW1 and afterwards numerous villages were still dependent upon money sent back by their young men.

"Remarkable, by todays' standards, was the youth of these venturers. Some became cafe managers in their teens, and many were proprietors in their early twenties. Also striking was their propensity to save income and, after meeting familial obligations in Kythera, to accumulate capital and invest in further enterprises", records Hugh Gilchrist.

Some early Kytherians in Sydney and NSW include the Panaretos brothers who established themselves in Sydney and Inverell, the Aronis brothers and cousins from the village of Aroniadika, the Andronikos brothers from Mylopotamos, Notaras brothers from Frilingianika, Michalakakis brothers from Potamos, Kalopaidis and Samios families, and individuals bearing such names as Fatseas, Gavrilis, Kasimatis, Katsoulis, Koronaios, Koumbis, Kritharis, Lakhanas, Makris, Margetis, Minoukhos, Protopsaltis, Souris, Stratigos, Tzortzopoulos, Veneris, Vrakhnas and Zaglanakis.

Kythera's most successful son in the next generation was Nikolaos Lourantos, who arrived in Sydney as an 18 year old in 1908 from the village of Karvounades. As Sir Nicholas Laurantus he became the first Greek born Australian to receive a knighthood ( his biography is recorded in "Portrait of Uncle Nick" by Jean Michaelides).

Just before WW1, there was a large influx of Kytherians amongst whom were bearers of names such as Baveas, Fardoulis, Foiros, Kaligeros, Kalokairinos, Katsoulis, Khristianos, Kolyvas, Kontoleontos, Kritikos, Kypriotis, Marselos, Papadopoulos and Stathis.

By 1921 there were almost 700 Greeks in Sydney and a total of 1,500 recorded in NSW, which generated the necessary support for the establishment of a Greek press and the emergence of regional brotherhoods and panhellenic groups, the first of which was The Kytherian Brotherhood of Australia instituted in Sydney in 1922. Prior to these groups, Greek culture had been kept alive through the Orthodox church and Greek coffee houses in Sydney.

The years 1922-1924 saw an influx of Asia-Minor refugees reducing the high percentage position Kytherians had previously held in the total Greek population.

By the early 1930's Sydney's Greek born population had grown to 1,500 but the number of Australian born of Greek descent had grown exponentially. By this time too, Kytherians could be found in almost every country town in NSW, QLD and northern VIC. In the embryo national capital of Canberra the Kytherian community, which included the Kasimatis (Cassidy) brothers from Potamos and the Potiris brothers from Mylopotamos, constituted the largest group of non British inhabitants.

In Queensland the settlement of Greeks was relatively slow. There were barely 100 by the turn of the century but within a few years there was a preponderance of Kytherians, the most significant of whom were the Kominos, Koronis and Frilingos families. Ioannis Stavrianos Kominos was the first of five brothers to move north after his arrival in Sydney in 1901. The establishment of a wholesale fruit agency, trading as Comino Brothers, did much to stimulate the production of higher-quality fruit in southern Queensland and northern New South Wales. The Kominos family history is recorded in the publication "Comino Reunion, Sydney 1988" available through inter-library loan from the NSW State Library or National Library under ISBN 0731663306.

Kharalambos Koronis, known as Harry Coroney, has the distinction of being the first Greek in Queensland to own an hotel; one of the largest in the state. He became one of Charleville's leading citizens and an original shareholder Qantas (the family history is recorded in the book "Jim Corones and Quilpy" by Vassilia Corones).

Khristos Frilingos (Freeleagus) arrived in Brisbane in 1902 and was the last of a family of ten sons and two daughters to migrate. He has the distinction of founding the Queensland Hellenic Association, president of Brisbane's Greek Orthodox Community, Greece's Consul-General in Brisbane and Queensland's most influential Greek. His biography can be found in "The Queensland Experience - The Life and Work of 14 Remarkable Migrants" by Max Brandle. The first authenticated Kytherian to settle in Queensland was Ioannis Glou, aka John Lewis, who arrived in Bundaberg in 1895. Included amongst the other early Kytherians were bearers of such names as Andronikos, Karavitis, Karydis, Katsoulis, Koukoulis, Menegas, Tsolakis, Tsikalas and Zantiotis. By 1911 Queensland's Greek born population had grown to 262 and was predominately Kytherian.

Tasmania's Greeks remained few until long after WW1. However, it was the Kasimatis (Casimaty) brothers from Kythera who provided the most significant early Greek presence when they opened the state's first Greek restaurant in 1913. They went on to pioneer Tasmania's crayfish export industry which contributed significantly to the island's economy. Another early Kytherian was Marinos Lekatsas who arrived in Hobart in 1907 and became Tasmania's most successful theatrical entrepreneur.

Whilst the state of Victoria was largely an Ithacan province, one of the early and most influential Greeks in Melbourne was the Kytherian Nikolaos Gavrilis. Nikolaos was born in Potamos in 1863 and arrived in Melbourne in 1890, at which time there were just over 200 Greeks in the whole state. He quickly established himself as an astute businessman and one of the leaders of the Greek Orthodox community.

Most of the Greeks who returned to fight in the Balkan Wars were Kytherians, amongst whom were Panayiotis Aronis, Kyriakos Baveas, V.I. Foiros, Spyridon Kaligeros, Minas Kallinikos, K.I. Kalokairinos, Mikhail Katsoulis, Dimitrios Melitas, Athanasios and Panayiotis Kominos, Panayiotis Kypriotis, Nikolaos Samios, Panayiotis Souris, Emmanouil Stathis, G.I. Stratigos, Stylianos Stellos, Ioannis Tambakis, V.G. Tzentzos, Minas Tzortzopoulos, and Ioannis Zantiotis. Australia's Greeks subscribed over £12,000 to aid Greece's war effort. At least 50 Greeks served in the Australian armed forces in WW1.

The years between the wars saw a steady increase in Kytherian migration, but after WW2 Australia's mass migration policy brought Greeks from all areas of their home land, numerically swamping the traditional migration chain from Kythera, Kastellorizo and Ithaca.

Today there are about 50,000 Australians of Kytherian descent in Sydney alone, and there can be few, if any, Kytherian families who do not have links with Australia. They played a major role in shaping modern multicultural Australia, and it is remarkable that such a small island has produced an impressively long list of high achievers. The days of the stereotypical Kytherian cafe and milk bar are long gone, and today 2nd and 3rd generation Kytherian Australians can be found in all levels of society and in all professions.

A summary of modern Greek migration to Australia can be found on:

"Greek Australians: An Introduction" http://www.glavx.org/archive/australi/intro.htm

"Greek Community of Australia" http://www.hellas.com.au/

Kytherian Brotherhoods

The addresses of The Kytherian Brotherhoods of Australia are:

The President
Kytherian Brotherhood of Australia
PO Box A203
Sydney South NSW 2000
tel.: 02 9699 2501
(The President is Victor Kepreotes who can be contacted at [email protected])

The President
Kytherian Brotherhood of Canberra
GPO Box 2815
Canberra City ACT 2601
(The President is Chris Lourandos who can be contacted on 02 6254 7320 after hours.

The Secretary
Kytherian Brotherhood of Queensland
301 Ellison Rd.
Chermside QLD 4032

(The Secretary is George Kastrissios who can be contacted or left a message on mobile 0413 736310)

They have good networks and may be able to put you in contact with long lost relatives. The Brotherhood of Australia is in the process of developing a comprehensive library which will be a boon to all genealogists and historians. The Kytherian web site


has obviously been developed.

Other Greek organisations can be found at:



Those living in Melbourne can carry out research at the "Greek Australian Archives Museum and Learning Centre" at RMIT University and "The Greek Community Archives" at La Trobe University.

Those living in Sydney will find the resources at the "Australian Hellenic Historical Society" very helpful (contact Tas Psarakis on 02 9522 5230).

These organisations hold copies of the 1916 Greek Alien Census which is a very useful document for family history research. [See entry - this site, in this section.] The census is set out in geographical sequence; those living in the same or adjacent towns were very likely to be related, came from the same village or arrived on the same ship.

Those with Lotus SmartSuite installed can obtain copies of the NSW and QLD pages from [email protected]. [Also on Kythera-island web-site.]

Genealogy Sources

State and Commonwealth electoral rolls are held on microfilm in the state archives and regional national archives respectively.

Wills are held in the state archives.

The National Archives in Canberra (address below) has produced a publication called "Finding Families" which lists all the types of genealogy records available in the National and State Archives plus related records held by other institutions. It also has a comprehensive address list of all the various organizations involved in genealogy. It can be ordered on line at:


Alternatively, visit the following sites:

"National Archives Of Australia" http://www.naa.gov.au

"National Library"


A list with a large number of resources and links to many other genealogy sites.
"Directory of Archives in Australia"

A comprehensive list, with links, of over 450 record repositories, from local historical societies to government institutions.

The supervisors in the family history section of your local Church of Jesus Christ and Latter Day Saints (Mormon) are always very helpful. They have access to enormous resources.

"Latter Day Saints (Mormon)" http://www.cohsoft.com.au/afhc/index.html#ldsfhc


Genealogy Societies

The Genealogical Society of Queensland
PO Box 8423
Woolloongabba QLD 4102

The Society of Australian Genealogists
Richmond Villa
120 Kent Street
Sydney NSW 2000

The Hellenes-Diaspora Genealogy Forum

Birth - Death - Marriage Certificates
After "grilling granny" your next step should be to check the appropriate state BDM indexes held in your nearest library or genealogical society.
The NSW indexes are available online at:

and the Sydney Death and Obituary Notices Index is at:


If you cannot find a marriage registration, it's possible he/she (usually he) was married by proxy; the bride having been arranged by the parents back on Kythera. Also, many names have been corrupted or anglicized over the generations. If you cannot find any early BDM references under your name, then look at the evolution of pronunciation changes leading to spelling changes as each generation sunk further into the melting pot. Another avenue is to look at abbreviation for assimilation reasons; e.g. Protopsaltis to Psaltis to Saltis to Salter.

The appropriate Birth, Death or Marriage Certificates can be obtained from the State Registrar General’s office. Addresses and details on costs, access restrictions etc. can be found at:


In NSW the address is:
The Registrar-General
GPO Box 30
Sydney NSW 2001
e-mail: [email protected]

In Queensland the address is:

The State Archives
PO Box 1397
Sunnybank Hills QLD 4109
http://www.archives.qld.gov.au for births, deaths and marriages pre 1890

The Registrar-General
PO Box 188 Albert Street
Brisbane QLD 4002 for events post 1890

Naturalisation Records
Having obtained the certificate which identifies your Kytherian born ancestor, write to:

The Australian National Archives
PO Box 7425
Canberra Mail Centre ACT 2602
tel.: 02 6212 3600
email: [email protected]
for a copy of his/her naturalisation documents for post 1904 naturalisations, or to respective State Archives for pre 1904 naturalisations. To obtain the year, series and item numbers of your ancestors naturalization documents, go to the archive's "Collection Database" (aka ANGAM) at:


and type his name in the search field. You may have to experiment with different spellings of the name.

Go to:

and hit the 'collection' button for more infomation.

The naturalization documents will give comprehensive detail on your ancestor, including his ship and date of arrival. This latter information is very important as in most cases your ancestor would have been naturalized under his adopted Kytherian nickname (paratsoukli), whereas the passenger lists from the shipping records will give his authentic family name which he would have required for his passport.

For NSW arrivals the pre 1923 passenger lists can be viewed at, or for non Sydney residents, by writing to:

The Principal Archivist
State Records Authority of NSW
Level 3, 66 Harrington Street
The Rocks
Sydney NSW 2000
tel.: 02 9237 0120


Post 1923 lists can be viewed at the
National Archives Regional Office Reading Room
Level 17
477 Pitt Street

Non Sydney residents can write to:

The Regional Director
National Archives of Australia
NSW Office
Locked Bag 4
Chester Hill NSW 2162
tel.: 02 9645 0100
e-mail: [email protected] or [email protected]

For Queensland arrivals, write to:

The National Archives of Australia
Queensland Office
PO Box 552
Cannon Hill QLD 4170
tel.: 07 3249 4222
e-mail: [email protected]

or search for the records yourself at:

The Archives Repository
996 Wynnum Road
Cannon Hill

Data Base

The Australian Hellenic Historical Society is continuing to up-date its archive of all Greek-Australians and would be grateful to receive any information, including "pedigree charts", photos and documents, from those researching their family background. Send to:

Mr. Tas Psarakis
Australian Hellenic Historical Society
75 Hawkesbury Esplanade
Sylvannia Waters NSW 2224
tel.: 02 9522 6695

Such a record repository will be of immense benefit to all future genealogists and historians.

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1 Comment

Chris Goopy
on 15.10.2004

Some of these websites in this article don't work or are out of date. Could they be checked please.