Upload Your Entry
Peter Tsicalas

Northern NSW - 1

The Richmond District


Emmanuel Harry Mavris (Mavromikhail) acquired a cafe here in mid 1922, but who came before or after is still on the investigation list. He was 10yrs old when he left home in Piraeus, spending 7yrs in Egypt before arriving in Sydney in 1910. He went to Bangalow in 1920, but was burnt out 6mths later and moved to Murwillumbah with a bloke named Haros (Haropoulos) to take over one of Jack Aroney’s cafes. But when things started to get a bit shaky in the Tweed district with the decline in the dairy and banana industries he passed the cafe to Nick Koukoulis and moved to the less than thriving metropolis of Alstonville, where he appears to have survived for at least 5yrs.

The Karavitiko, Harry Crethar, the eldest son of Vretos and Efrosine (nee Coroneos), was 21yrs old when he sailed into Sydney in late 1907 after a stint in Athens. He came to Ballina two years later and shortly afterwards acquired the business of the Peloponnesian Carkagis Bros, at which time he was joined by his 18yr old brother Minas (Menus) and four years later by his 17yr old brother Angelo. Menus however, returned to Greece in 1913, probably prompted by the Balkan Wars, and subsequently served with distinction on the British destroyer 'Latona' and on the staff of Vice Admiral Kerr in Salonika for the duration of WW1, earning many commendations for his services as an interpreter.

Their father had been a lighthouse keeper at Karavas and died in 1907 as a result of a faulty discharge while dynamiting fish, a source of supplemental income to his large family of 15 children. More of his children and grandchildren later settled in Australia, particularly in Lismore and district where the Crethar clan became the most numerous of all Greek families. Harry died during the Spanish Flu epidemic in Ballina in 1919 and a few years later Angelo moved to Lismore and started the family's long association with that city.

Panagiotis Emmanuel Petrochilos landed from Alexandrades in 1924, aged 18, and spent a few years in Melbourne and Elmore until moving into NSW and subsequently having cafes in Wagga and Lake Cargelligo. In 1938 somebody pointed him towards the small village of Bonalbo, where he purchased the newsagency, gradually expanding the range of services into a large general store. Along the way he acquired the shop next door, started a drapery and later took over the Post Office agency.

In 1957 he lost the lot in a fire, which consumed seven shops on the block. At that time Bonalbo was still without a water supply and fire engines had to come from Casino, prompting Peter to become the driving force in the subsequent establishment of reticulated water in the town, now supplied from the Petrochilos Dam. His shops were rebuilt and he continued trading for many years.

He became a leading figure in the Bonalbo community, serving on the Kyogle Shire Council from 1953 to 1977 and as Shire President from 1974 to 1976. He was a founding member and president of many community groups and services, including the Bonalbo Bowling Club, the Boy Scouts and the Bonalbo Chamber of Commerce, and was prominent in the establishment at Bonalbo of the Caroona Homes for the Aged. He is also remembered for his part in having an ambulance station established at Bonalbo and, as well as the water supply, was instrumental in bringing a sewerage scheme and bituminised roads to the village. His work for the community was recognised when he was awarded the Order of Australia Medal in 1977 and placed as runner-up in the NSW Senior Citizen of the Year award in 1984. He died in Lismore in 1988 aged 82. His wife, Sylvia (nee Kavalinis), still lives at Kyogle.

Sylvia was born in Fremantle in 1921 when the boat bringing her parents, George and Eleni (nee Leontsinis), and brother Spiro, made its first port of call in Australia. They later moved on to Sydney where the family settled at Kingsford and where the last children, Katerina and Peter, were born.

The first Greek Oyster Saloon was established in Walker Street in 1904 by Peter Emmanuel Comino (Gialdelis) of Lismore, but the place was probably in the management hands of his brother George. An early employee was Theo Con Andronicos, 20yrs old when he arrived in town in late 1904. He had landed nearly 4yrs earlier and bypassed the usual Sydney apprenticeship by going straight to Moree. But his first stay in Casino was cut short when, in mid 1905, he was offered a partnership deal in Murwillumbah with Arthur Anastasios Samios whom he had met at Coonamble. Eighteen months later he reappeared in town after their rapidly expanding partnership acquired Comino's Casino branch. However, once again it was short lived when he offloaded to the Cordatos Bros in mid 1907 to return to home base for the launch of the partnership’s second Murbah restaurant.

George and Simon Theodorakakis (Cordatos), in silent partnership with their uncle Denis of Dubbo, were the initial managers of the Casino branch of the various Cordatos Bros enterprises. They were two of the six Cordatos brothers who began arriving from Potamos after the turn of the century and initially settled around the New England Tablelands.

Casino has the distinction as the spot chosen by Harry Catsoulis, the son of Theo Harry and Chrysanthi (nee Coroneo), to pop into the world in 1910, probably making him the first Greek-Australian on the north coast. He just pipped Catherine Cordatos, the daughter of Simon and Cornelia (nee Chambiras), by a couple of months. The Catsoulis were dairy farmers on their 640 acre property at Camira Creek, Whiporie, down along the Grafton road. Theo landed as a 26yr old in late 1904 and did café time at Glen Innes and Grafton before beginning his life long love affair with farming in mid 1909.

Casino also has the distinction of being the location for the first Greek Orthodox wedding on the north coast when Anthony Cordatos, the third son of Emmanuel and Katerini (nee Megaloconomos), married Anthe Minoucoe of Kyogle in 1916. It was a grand affair, drawing over 60 Greeks from the local area, the Tablelands and as far afield as Sydney, Brisbane and Maryborough. But this group was dwarfed by the curious crowd of Casino onlookers stretching out the door of the Anglican Church, being entranced by Fr Dimitrios Marinakis of Sydney as he worked his binding spell. Anthe's cousins, Stella Galanis of Maryborough and Jack Aroney of Murwillumbah, were bridesmaid and best man. At the Marble Bar Café afterwards, Stella and Muriel Comino of Lismore provided the choral entertainment with renditions of the Greek and British anthems and the Marseillaise, while Cornelia Cordatos sang the Greek Bridal March, all accompanied by a pianist and violinist especially brought up from Sydney. It was all topped off with a honeymoon at hedonistic Byron Bay.

[Stella Galanis later upstaged Anthe big time. Of all places to find a reference, the mighty Richmond River Herald (circulation 100), a 6 page bi-weekly published at Coraki, had this to say on 12Apr1921: There was quite a stir in Maryborough last week when a unique wedding was celebrated, the contracting parties being Miss Stella N. Gallanis to Mr G. N. Marsellas, of Melbourne. The religious ceremonial was performed at St Paul’s Church of England by a Greek priest specially brought from Sydney. The wedding, which was carried out in Greek fashion, was the biggest thing in marriages ever seen in a Maryborough church, which was packed, whilst hundreds were unable to gain admission. It is estimated that 1500 people were in and about the church. Some of the ladies forgot themselves, and (says a local paper) fought under scratch-as-cats-can rules to gain admission to the church…For a couple of hours after the event groups of women could be seen at the street corners discussing the wedding… The story then goes on to dwell on the cost and imply that all Greeks were as rich as Onassis – ‘the presents were worth well over £1000’…. ‘the wedding breakfast must have cost hundreds to prepare’… ‘the bride’s dress alone is said to have cost over £50’….. (And the cuckolded George Dimitri Marcellos was a café owner of Ipswich at the time.)]

A Greek oyster saloon was established here around 1905, but the first clearly identifiable Kytherians were 17yr old Sid Mick Laesos, aka Megallos and Conomo, and 20yr old Con Peter Caridis when they took command in mid 1908. It looks like Sid was the gaffer, with the business registered in his name, while the lesser experienced Con manned the kitchen. Sid had landed in 1902 and completed a long apprenticeship with Peters & Co at Inverell prior to this journeyman phase of his course, while Con had played truant from the Peters & Co classroom after 11mths. However, they only lasted 6mths or so, probably due arguments over the washing up. Sid moved onto Gunnedah and Con onto Wagga, leaving a mystery presence until George Hlentzos was identified at the sink in 1911.

George was wiped out in early 1911 when half the CBD along Richmond Terrace was swept away in a fire, the most disastrous on the North Coast after that of Murwillumbah in 1907. He lived above the shop and lost everything, except the shirt and trousers he managed to put on before escaping and 11 pence he found in the rubble afterwards. He was uninsured but hopefully he had savings in the bank. He was identified as a cook at the Olympia Café in Lismore in 1916, and got tangled up in an odd partnership with the cunning Athena Andrulakis in 1917, but what he was doing at Coraki in the meantime remains mystery number eleventy three. He may have hung around in Coraki and taken up a new shop, which was the one passed onto Theo Bangi (Vangis) in 1915.

He possibly has some connection to Peter Emmanuel Hlentzos (Baugris), who was in the district at the time. Peter, born in Christoforianika in 1896, was a classic Kytherian wanderer, landing in late 1912 and spending a few years in Sydney and Bombala learning the trade and the language prior to spending short periods moving between Cooma, Quirindi, Lismore, Bangalow, Grafton, Ballina, West Wyalong and Hay, before finally settling at Cooma in 1920.

Coraki had the potential to be one of the major towns on the Richmond, but the later rail and road network passed it by. The Crethars were the last caterers, pulling out around 1930, and thereafter no Greek managed to find the place.

Evans Head
In 1884 Athanasios Dimitrios Kominos (Skordili), the senior Oyster King, leased 2000 yards of foreshore for oyster-growing on the Evans River estuary. How he worked the leases is a puzzle, but the 1891 census shows three Greek males and one female in the County of Rous, one of whom could have been an overseer of the oyster beds and/or his resident agent.

There appears to be no Greek café until 1930 when Nick James Crethar of Coraki, with his brother Harry of Lismore as a silent partner, acquired the business of the Italian Rosolen family and gave it a makeover. At that time the café was only viable during the summer holiday season and it's believed that Nick closed the place during the winter months and returned to Lismore to work with Harry. In 1937 he sold out to Johnny Nick Feros who went on to become an Evans Head identity with a diversified range of interests.

Johnny, the nephew of Basil and Alex John Feros of Mullumbimby and Lismore, was born in 1912, the eldest of three sons of Nick and Elessa Feros of Mitata. His father, who is believed to have spent 10yrs in Australia before returning to Kythera in the 1920s, had warned him that Australia was a strange country where people ate white bread, advice which Johnny appreciated when he had to enlarge the bakery during WW2 to meet the demands of the hungry airmen from the giant RAAF Base (not to forget the enlarged safe to accommodate the cash flow.) He subsequently branched out into manufacturing and his company supplied paraphernalia, including furniture, billiard tables and pinball machines, to pubs, amusement arcades and cafes all over the North Coast and on the Tablelands.

Arthur George Lyvanas of Patras seems to have been the first Greek into Kyogle when he acquired Horsleys Café in Main Street in late 1906 and made it over into The Sydney Oyster Saloon, invariably the name of most early Greek cafes in the region. However, he doesn't seem to have made a go of it and sold out to the partnership of Comino & Patras in early 1907 and moved to Blayney.

Comino & Patras, who were staked by the Murbah/Casino partnership of Samio & Andronicos, redubbed the joint The Victoria Café. But within 6 months they too went bust and there appears to be no further Greek presence in Kyogle until 1910 when Theo Ioannis Minoukhos came across from Murwillumbah and set up shop. Comino is a mystery but Patras (aka Zeanopoulos) was 23yr old Con, brother of Theo of Mullumbimby and earlier of Lismore.

Theo Minocue was a nuggety little bloke of 5ft 1in who earned distinction in the sporting arena. He arrived from Aroniadika as an 11yr old in 1901 and in the NSW wrestling championships in 1907 got to the final of the light-weight division "and was only beaten after a bitter and sustained struggle." In 1908 he came down from Murwillumbah and again won second prize and a medal in the lightweight division. Next year he gained another medal in an amateur wrestling contest and the following year he played in the team that won the state's rugby union premiership. But he didn't escape unscathed; under 'distinguishing features' on his Alien Identity Card was: scars on forehead and both ears cauliflowered.

Theo and Anthi were joined by their brother Peter sometime prewar. In 1915 the biggest drought on record hit the district which no doubt effected business and forced Peter's move to Murwillumbah. At the same time Theo must have moved temporarily to work with Anthi in Dubbo where he was recorded as a member of that town's winning rugby league team in 1915. Whether the business was leased in the interim is uncertain, but Theo was back behind the counter in Kyogle in 1916. Earlier, in 1912, he must also have taken some time off to play Union, representing NSW against QLD, and in that year also held the QLD Wrestling Championship.

He seems to have been burnt out in early 1918, after which he moved to Brisbane for a few months before ending up in Dubbo.

Thirty five year old George Ioannis Malanos and 19yr old Peter Nickolas Megaloconomos (Conomo) of Milopotamos, who had been trading together at Coraki for the previous couple of years, continued the Kytherian presence in town when they opened a new café in mid 1919.

Peter Emmanuel Comino (Gialdelis) established the region's first Greek oyster saloon here in early 1903. He was 31yrs old when he landed in Australia in 1900 after a working stint in Athens, spending three years in Sydney, possibly with a sojourn in Wagga, before moving on to Lismore, which was in the process of a huge growth spurt due to the rapidly expanding dairy industry.

Accompanying him to Lismore was his younger cousin and shipmate, George Arthur Comino (Panagioteli) of Perligianika, who had acquired his own oyster saloon in Oxford Street within a year of landing. He was probably a partner in Comino & Co of Lismore until he sold his share to Peter’s brother 2yrs later and, after an 8mth stopover in Wagga, returned to Kythera. He came back to Sydney in late 1911 accompanied by his 11yr old son Arthur and went to work for his uncle, Zacharias Comino of Pitt Street. Over the following years he did a couple of trips to the USA before settling permanently back on the island.

Peter’s brother, the 33yr old bachelor George Comino, had landed in 1896, also via Athens, spending 8 years in Sydney before joining Peter in Lismore in late 1903, providing the wherewithal to expand as P & G Comino & Co, but occasionally trading as Comino Bros. He seems to have opened a branch of their enterprise at Casino in mid 1904, leaving it in the hands of a manager, probably Theo Con Andronicos, and moving to Grafton in mid 1905 to open another branch. This too seems to have been left with a manager, probably Peter Minas Aroney who had turned up from Lismore in late 1905. George then seems to have returned to Lismore, passing his share of the business to Peter's brothers-in-law, the Andronicos Bros, around 1908 and disappearing somewhere. At this time the Lismore shop was given another makeover and re-emerged under its original name, The Sydney Oyster Saloon, the same name under which the Greek enterprises at Casino, Grafton, Kyogle, Murwillumbah and Mullumbimby were by then trading. Perhaps a Greek franchise chain was in the making under the high-profile brand name.

George was probably accompanied on the coastal steamer from Sydney by Peter Spyro Comino (Psilos). He was 18yrs old when he landed from Katsoulianika in late 1903 and came direct to Lismore, remaining for 2yrs before spending the rest of his life in Sydney. His brother, Gregory Spiro Comino, landed as a 16yr old in 1913 and came to Lismore in 1919 after stints in Mackay, Maryborough, Winton and Murwillumbah. He moved to Grafton in 1920, but seems to have settled at West Wyalong by late 1921.

Lismore became the staging post for Kytherians proceeding into Queensland and over these early years the place became choc-a-bloc with Cominos. George Emmanuel Comino (Palethras) landed in Sydney 1901, aged 16, and turned up in Lismore a few years later scouting out business opportunities, but was scared off by the floods after a short period. He kept on heading north until he struck virgin territory in Cairns where he finally put down roots and established the first Greek café in partnership with his brother Arthur in 1906. Arthur went back to Kythera in 1908, but returned in early 1910 and wandered all over the Richmond-Tweed region looking for another business opportunity. His wife, Sophia (nee Souris), daughter Matina, aged 8, and son Manolis, aged 2, joined him at Wingham in 1912, coming to Lismore in 1914 to give birth to son Peter. She may have a connection to Vasiliki Souris (Moscovite), the wife of George Arthur Comino above.

Peter Theo Comino (Baha) also passed through Lismore on his way to Mackay and the subsequent acquisition of the Sydney Oyster Saloon from his uncle Minas Comino (Psilos). He had landed as an ancient 28yr old in 1905 and after a couple of months in Sydney and Dubbo came to Lismore for 8mths to work for Peter Comino. He managed to bring out his wife Vasiliki, the sister of George and Arthur above, and children Theo and Kaliopi, before the war. [And Vasiliki’s third brother, Charlie, married Eleni Comino, the daughter of Nick Stavrianos (Douris) and Erini Tsicalas, the sister of George of Lismore. And George’s other sister, Stamatia, married Con Theo Andronicos, the brother-in-law of Peter Emmanuel Comino (Gialdelis). And …. There’s a high place in heaven for someone who can sort out the genealogical nightmare of the Cominos.]

The Douris Cominos were early employees of Peter Emmanuel, and one, Ioannis Stavrianos Comino (Douris), likely arrived in Lismore with him. He, aged 24 when he landed in 1901, stayed 7mths before acquiring the short lived cafe of Nick Ioannis Veneris (Hellen) at Bundaberg in late 1903. He was the first of five brothers from Dourianika to hit the northern trail, although there appear to have been Douris Cominos at Rockhampton pre 1900. A couple of months after he moved on his younger brother Theo arrived in town and remained for 9 months before joining him in Bundaberg. Their brother Arthur married Marigoula Comino, the eldest daughter of George Arthur above. Arthur had landed in 1903, but returned to Kythera with his brother Peter in 1912, coming back with Marigoula in 1921 to settle at Laidley. Peter later came back to join his sons at Murwillumbah.

Hercules (Harry) Peter Comino was 20yrs old when he landed from Potamos on Christmas Day 1911 and came straight to Lismore with his shipmate, Nick Harry Flaskas, to work in Peter Comino’s new Olympia Café. Harry stayed 3yrs before moving to Grafton for another 2yrs and thence settling in Sydney, while Nick later became part-owner of the Olympia.

Menas and Nikolaos Anthony Comino, nephews of the Oyster Kings, added to the Comino traffic jam in 1917 when they arrived in town to acquire the restaurant of Athena Andrulakis, the larger than life Ithacan entrepreneur. Mena's move to Lismore may have been prompted by the destruction of his George St café by rioting soldiers in 1916. He and Marouli (nee Catsoulis) had twins born in Lismore in 1918 who unfortunately became victims of the Spanish flu. Their daughter, Theodora, married Alex Dimitri Samios of Mullumbimby and Kyogle in 1932.

The Comino presence in Lismore finally came to an end in the early 1920s when Peter Emmanuel and family moved to Brisbane, probably prompted by the moribund state of the dairy industry. His wife Kalliopi (nee Andronicos), and daughters, Stella, aged 11, and Muriel, aged 9, had arrived in 1908. Stella married Mick Charles Catsoulis in Lismore in 1919 and a year later their son Charles was born in town, after which they moved to Goondiwindi. Muriel married William Condoleon, of the Burnett region in Queensland, in Brisbane in the 1930s.

In partnership with his brothers-in-law, Stylianos (Stan), Kosmas (Charlie), Dimitrios (David) and Constantine Andronicos, sons of the Rev Fr Theo of Kousounari, Peter constructed the magnificent Olympia Café in Molesworth Street in 1911. It was purpose-built to Peter's own design and became the most posh café on the north coast, if not between Sydney and Brisbane. For many years their adverts were prefaced with ‘Olympia - Finest Dining Hall Outside Sydney.’ Hands-on management however, was left with the Andronicos after Peter became a farmer near Nimbin around 1912. It passed to the partnership of Emmanuel Dimitrios Notaras and Nick Harry Flaskas in 1916.

Seventeen year old Stan Andronico had landed with Peter Comino in 1900 and eventually became the main face of the Lismore enterprise. After various adventures, including a 2yr sojourn in South Africa, he came to Lismore in 1907, apparently as an employee of Comino until the Olympia was built in 1911, at which time the Andronicos Bros shops at Tenterfield and Musswellbrook along with the Olympia and the Nimbin farm were all consolidated under the umbrella of ‘Andronicos Bros & Comino’. David managed the Tenterfield branch, Charlie the Musswellbrook enterprise, while Con, the consort of Stamatia Tsicalas, had returned to Kythera.

The farm, 129 acres at Hanging Rock, was won by Stan in the land ballot of Jan1910, which sparked the entertaining ‘White Australia Election’ a couple of months later after the locals became a tad upset that three ‘Hindoos’ were also successful in the ballot. But it seems Stan wasn’t cut out to be a farmer and the place was formally transferred to Peter Comino in early 1912. Thereafter, with Peter Comino remote at Nimbin, Stan seems to have taken the batton as the main spokesman for the Lismore Greek community.

In October 1912 the Balkan War broke out and Stan became the main organiser for a local Greek contingent to go and lend a hand in expelling the wicked Turks from Europe. …. Last night a ‘Star’ representative saw a prominent Greek of this town, from whom some information was gathered. Speaking of the impending trouble Mr S. Andronico said … Every Greek when leaving his native country is bound to return when called upon to defend it. …An appeal has been made in Australia by the Grecian Consul, and among those cheerfully responding is Mr S. Andronico of Lismore. He is selling his business and is prepared to sacrifice £300 or £400 so as to get away. He is hopeful of leaving Lismore about the end of the month or a little later. The whole of his staff, together with others, making a total of 20, have pledged themselves to accompany him. If necessary, Mr Andronico will pay their fares and equip them with rifles in Australia. They will, he says, go straight to the front, and do their best to avenge the horrors and atrocities to which their people have from time to time been subjected at the hands of the Turks in Macedonia. ….

Nevertheless, it seems the morning after his throw-away lines to the journalist Stan had the proverbial cuppa tea, bex, and a good lie down. The Olympia, probably the most expensive café between Sydney and Brisbane, couldn’t be sold at such short notice, even with a ‘£300 or £400’ discount, leaving Stan without the bananas to provision and transport his militia. And being left without staff probably wouldn’t have appealed to a prospective purchaser.

But in Aug1913 he is implied to be elsewhere when his brother David was manning the counter and had his features rearranged by a couple of dissatisfied customers. David became a permanent Lismore resident in late 1913/early 1914 upon selling the Tenterfield outlet to the Cordatos Bros of Casino, at which time Stan was a paid up member of the Lismore Chamber of Commerce, although family folklore has it he finally took his R & R break on Kythera sometime pre war.

David seems to have mothballed the Olympia in late 1915, just before a working bee of 2000 kind merrymakers imbued with the Christmas spirit cleaned-up all the German shops in town. All through December 1915 the Northern Star carried reports on the trashing of Greek restaurants by rioting soldiers at Newcastle, Sydney and Manly, possibly sending a message to David that he could be a target. In early Jan1916 he left the place in the hands of letting agents, and went off to join Charlie in Musswellbrook. Five months later Notaras & Flaskas acquired the joint, but the machinations in the meantime remain a mystery.

[For students of café architecture: The new Comino building was a two-storey brick structure, the restaurant taking the middle of three new shop fronts at ground level and occupying the whole of the upstairs space, and opened with great fanfare and a rave review by the local rag on 22July1911. The shop front at street level was lined in marble and had three large windows for the displaying of produce, an innovative misting system giving the illusion of freshness. Inside were two long marble-topped counters either side of the doorway, both housing the latest ’automatic carbonators’, and seating for a heap of plebs at marble-topped tables in the dining room beyond. The entire upstairs area over the three shops was devoted to posh dining rooms and reached by a separate doorway and spacious staircase. This space included a gentlemen’s luncheon room, ladies’ dining room and, up a further short flight of stairs, a banquet room with a ’large balcony for diners who indulge in the weed’. These levels, which included three bedrooms for employee accommodation, were serviced by a dumb waiter from the kitchen below. There were brass pots of ferns distributed throughout every room and staircase, and on every wall were ’large pictures depicting happenings in the history of Greece with descriptions under each picture’. The descriptions were in Greek, but hopefully the menus were in English. The place stretched through to Carrington Lane with the back yard housing a separate fish-room, a chook run, cart shed and stables, later also accommodating Stan Andronico’s three guard dogs. The opening day’s takings were again donated to the Lismore District Hospital, a regular practice instituted by Peter Comino ever since he arrived in town. He, his brother George and Stan Andronico were made life members of the Lismore Hospital Patron’s Association.]

[And for the wedding buffs: The Comino/Catsoulis knees-up, probably the first Greek Orthodox wedding in Lismore, gave the happy couple and guests an entertaining tale to dine out on over many years. Guests from all over the place were dressed to the nines and assembled for the appointed kick-off of 2.30PM when, lo and behold, the priest failed to front. It turned out that the train bringing Fr Marinakis from Casino was delayed and proceedings didn’t get under way until 7PM, leaving a bewildered caterer at the Masonic Hall believing he’d got the date wrong. Muriel Comino of Lismore and Mrs Victoria Menegas of Warwick were bridesmaids, David Andronicos of Muswellbrook was bestman and Anthony Cassimatis of Brisbane, Harry Crethar of Ballina and Peter Catsoulis of Ballina were groomsmen. (Three weeks later Harry died in Ballina - of the Spanish Flu, not food poisoning.)

It was 10yrs before Lismore produced another Orthodox wedding that registered on the Richter Scale. The dual wedding of the sisters, Zaphiro and Arti Dimitri Crethar, to George Theo Poulos and Harry Con Fardouly respectively, was one of the grandest ceremonies ever held on the North Coast. The officiating priest, The Very Rev Theofylactos Papathanasopoulos, Head of the Greek Orthodox Church in Australia, got there on time, as did the guests-of-honour, Mr L. Chrysanthopoulos, Consul-General for Greece, and Mr Theo Angelo Crithary, President of the Sydney Greek Community. Unfortunately they stole all the publicity, with the priest’s ’georgeous vestments’ gaining more comment that the bride’s attire. Bridesmaids were Misses Maisie Lemnos and Marigo Crethar of Lismore, Dorothy Poulos of Cobar and Christina Coroneo of Glen Innes. Mrs Annie Peter Crethar was maid-of-honour and one of the spokeswomen at the large reception at the Apollo Hall. Harry and Nick Dimitri Crethar then spent a couple of years on bread and water to pay for it all.]

While Peter Comino had been farming at Nimbin since 1912, George Malano of Kyogle brought the first Greek café presence to town in about 1920, probably initially trading as Malano & Conomo until he sold his share of the Kyogle partnership to Jim John Coroneos. [Jim in turn sold out his interest in the Kyogle partnership in ~1926 to Efstratios Emmanuel Glytzos (Stan Gleeson).]

George landed in 1913 after 7yrs in Chicago where he had been based during his many years working as a stoker on ships plying between England, America and Australia. He was the brother-in-law of Peter John Glytsos (Gleeson) of Coffs Harbour and by 1916 was managing the Coffs Harbour Jetty Café. In 1917 he wandered off to Wingham, but a year later moved onto Coraki where he acquired his own business from Theo Bangi. In early 1919 he came to Kyogle with his partner Peter Conomo.

George sold his Blue Mount Cafe to Apostolos Emmanuel Kontoleos (Petrocheilos), aka Paul Condoleon of Avlemonas, in 1935, and returned to Greece just before the war. Paul and his wife Pegalia (nee Condoleon of Hora) remained for 10 years, after which the Greek presence in Nimbin came to an end. Their two sons, Manuel and John, were born locally, with their baptisms demonstrating the interconnectedness of the local community; Paul's cousin, George Kavalinis, the father of Sylvia Petrochilos of Bonalbo, being Manuel's godfather.

Pending further investigation, a bloke named Nick Theodore, probably Nick Theodorakakis, the brother-in-law of the Andronicos of Lismore, can take the credit as the first Kytherian into the place when he acquired the café next door to the Richmond Hotel in early 1916. Nick had landed with his wife, Zaharo (Olga) nee Andronicos, and two sons, Peter and Theo, in 1913 and gone direct to Lismore. But while it’s believed Zaharo and the boys followed her brothers to Muswellbrook in 1915, it seems Nick, if this is he, must have decided to try his luck here before linking up with them in late 1917 after selling out to the Katsoulis. [Zaharo is on the short list as the later Miss Z. Theodore of Coolangatta.]

George Peter Katsoulis and his eldest son Peter had landed from Toulon in France in 1913, but while George went to Katoomba for a couple of years, thence Sydney for a couple more, Peter went off to Lockhart to work for his Katsoulis cousins before they both met up again at South Woodburn. They stayed here for almost 2 years before moving to Ballina for about 7 months and finally settling at Wyong in early to mid 1920 where they acquired the freehold and established a mixed business. They are likely to be connected to the Katsoulis of Lismore, Casino, Grafton and Bellingen.

George, born in Katsoulianika in 1868, had been a wanderer for many years but hit the road permanently sometime after the death of his wife Maria. At the time he and 14yr old Peter came to Australia his remaining children, Stella (b. 1898), Helen (1900), Angelo (1910) and Lily (1912) were in the care of relations. They subsequently sponsored them all.

Theo Peter Lahanas came from Kempsey in the early 1920s to establish the first Greek presence in this small hamlet. He died in 1936 and shortly afterwards the café was purchased by Peter Ioannis Crethar of Lismore.

Peter landed from Karavas in the 1920s and worked for his cousins, Nick and Harry Dimitrios Crethar, in the Regent cafe in Lismore until putting his own stamp on the Lahanas café, making it over into Crethar’s Café, under which name it remained for the next 25yrs. He married Garavgalia (Fofo) Crethar, the sister of Peter Nicholas Crethar of the Monterey Cafe in Lismore. Together they traded in Woodenbong until the early 1950s when they passed the business to Peter's nephew, also named Peter Crethar, son of his brother Harry of Tenterfield, and moved to Brisbane. [If you reckon that's confusing try sorting out the zillion Crethars of Lismore.]

Peter Harry Crethar had landed in December 1939 and after a short period with his father in Tenterfield, and Minas (Mick) Crethar at the Empire Cafe in Stanthorpe, came to join his uncle at Woodenbong in late 1940. He grew up here, doing the usual Australian things of playing football, cricket and tennis, before starting a boot repair business, acquiring a milk run and then a cream run, which he ran for 6 years between Urbenville and Woodenbong, before taking over his uncle's business. He sold up in 1961 and moved with his family to Brisbane, so ending the Greek presence in this remote finger of the forest.

Peter married Alexandra Mariakis/Maliaroudakis (Alice Miller), the niece of Fofo Crethar, in 1945. Alexandra and her sisters were sent down to Woodenbong from Brisbane during the war because of their mother's fear of Japanese bombing raids.

Leave A comment