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submitted by Kytherian Newsletter Sydney on 20.04.2014

Racing NSW CEO Peter Vlandys arrives at the Federal Court in Sydney for the race fields legislation decision.

Peter V'landys. Member of the Order of Australia (AM)

On Australia Day 2014, Peter V’landys was awarded a Member of the Order of Australia for services to racing.


To view / download a copy of this article as a .pdf, go to:

Peter V'landys.pdf

In the Australian honours system, appointments to the Order of Australia confer recognition for outstanding achievement and service. The Member of the Order of Australia is awarded for service in a particular locality or field of activity or to a particular group.

Recipients of the Order of Australia are from many fields of endeavour and all walks of life. The Order of Australia has four levels:
• Companion of the Order (AC)
• Officer of the Order (AO)
• Member of the Order (AM), and
• Medal of the Order (OAM)

Peter V’landys is one of those fortunate people who are able to combine their passion with their profession. He is an Australian racing administrator who holds the position of Chief Executive and Board Member with Racing NSW (an independent body established to control and regulate the NSW Thoroughbred Racing Industry). As chief executive of Racing NSW, Peter oversees the state’s massive thoroughbred racing industry - the ideal job for someone who has been passionate about racing since childhood. He formerly held the position of Chief Executive of the NSW Harness Racing Club and currently serves on a number of Boards associated with the thoroughbred racing industry.

Peter attributes his Member of the Order of Australia honour to the hard work of his parents, who migrated from Kythera, Greece when he was a young boy.

Kytherian roots

Peter V’landys was born in the Vlandis “patriko” house, in the village of Kalokerines on Kythera, Greece, in 1962. The patriko house of Peter’s grandfather is easy to locate. It lies 80 metres from the church of Ayios Spyridonas, Kalokerines, on the road to Myrtidiotissa. There, 30 metres off the road, on the right, is a ‘camara’, known to all the locals, as “Fossa”. Another ‘patriko’, Peter’s father’s family’s house, is located adjacent to the ‘camara’ of his grandfather.

His pappou, Paul Vlandis – known as “Pavlis” - was extremely well known on Kythera. One of his tasks, in the lead up to ceremony of Myrtidiotissa, was to go to every house on the island on a donkey, and collect the oil that each household donated to the church. Pavlis had 12 children, one of whom was Peter’s father, Nick(olas). Nick was one of four (4) of Pavlis’s twelve (12) children who migrated to Australia.

Peter V’landys mother was Katerina Petrochilos, known as ‘Peters’ in Australia She was the daughter of Alex and Kirrani Petrochilos, from Fratsia, Kythera.

Despite leaving the island at age 3, a number of childhood memories have remained very vivid for Peter. He recalls as a small boy that he loved eating almonds. “I used to eat them by the bucket loads”. When it was time for him to leave the village, his grandfather Pavlis planted an almond tree with him. “You will be gone”, his grandfather said, “but this tree will still be here.”

He vividly remembers falling off a donkey, and “splitting my head open”. Also the many long walks, even as a small child that he undertook, up and down the road between Kalokerines and Myrtidiotissa. He also recalls vividly his best friend at the time - a young girl called Maria.

Peter’s father Nick migrated alone to Australia in 1963. He had joined a brother and sister in Wollongong, and another at Gosford - in Australia. In 1965 Peter’s mother Katerina along with his two older brothers Paul and Alex, left Kythera and migrated to Australia on the Patris.

Jim Vlandis from Gosford recalls picking up the family from the dock in Sydney, and waiting for Nick to arrive from Wollongong to be reunited with his family. The family settled in Wollongong.

Nick and Katerina lived the typical Kytherian-Greek migrant’s life in Australia. “We were very poor,” Peter V’landys says. “It was a struggle early on. My parents sometimes had to go without food to feed the three kids. Dad worked 18-hour days in the Wollongong steelworks. Because he didn't have the language, that was the best he could get. He was a 'doubler'. He worked every day from 6 am and he would normally finish at four, but then he would do a doubler. He'd finish at l am, and then start at six again. He retired when he was 60 and died when he was 64. Mum worked 12-hour shifts in a cafe so that I'd have a good chance in life. My work pales into insignificance compared to theirs. I've never seen a man and woman who worked as hard." Peter had jobs from age nine.

Peter V’landys has returned to Kythera on two occasions, the first time as a 28 year old. “When I went back, the first thing I went to look for was the almond tree. It was there were pappou had planted it”. It filled Peter with joy to see it. He was also reunited again with his childhood friend, Maria.

In 2009 he went back to Kythera a second time with his wife Philippa. On this occasion, under the bed in the patriko home, Peter found a small icon of a patron saint. He put it in his wallet, and has never removed it from his wallet since. “You know, I have lost my wallet twice, but on each occasion it has been returned to me with all its contents intact. I am sure that it was the patron saint that ensured that this happened.” The saint has been identified as Ayia Paraskevi. (See photograph). Again, on the 2009 visit, he met with his childhood friend, Maria. Tragically, Maria has since ‘passed away’.

Personal life

Growing up in Wollongong, Peter fell in love with racing when a friend introduced him to neighbours who used to regularly watch Harold Park harness racing on television. "There was a horse called Paleface Adios that really got my interest. At the age of 10, I used to buy the Trotting Guide and The Sportsman, and go to the TAB and find somebody older, an 18 year old, to put my bets on. “He would take a ‘sling’ (a %) every time I'd win”. I had an unbelievable strike rate. I was a very good form reader. I used to punt quite a bit for a young bloke.” “But I also realised early on that betting really had to be treated as entertainment - it's not something you do if you want to buy a house''?

Peter attended West Wollongong Primary and Keira Boys High School. It was a teacher at Keira who insisted on spelling his name “V-‘-l-a-n-d-y-s”. “He kept on spelling it that way...and it stuck”. At Keira Boys High his mathematics teacher advised him to study Accountancy. (‘There’s no money in Teaching”.) He gained entry to Wollongong University, graduating with a Bachelor of Commerce Degree majoring in Accounting.

To pay his way through accountancy at Wollongong University, V'landys became the manager of the Unanderra Hotel at the tender age of 18. Originally employed as a glass collector and cellarman, owner, Duke Taylor employed him to manage the Hotel. “I thought, 'This a bit of a hard job for me at 18,” says V'landys. “And all the staff agreed. They went on strike.” But V'landys stayed, and Taylor, he says, taught him the motto, “If you can't dazzle them with brilliance, you baffle them with bullshit”. “And that's really been a good piece of advice,” he says. “It's helped me a lot.”

At 20, V'landys used money he had saved and borrowed to buy the Courthouse Tavern – “a good, wholesome, old-fashioned restaurant” across the road from the (legal) Courthouse in Wollongong, which thrived, despite having no new-age chefs et cetera”.

Peter worked part-time for a Wollongong accountancy firm throughout university. “So I was basically getting up at five o'clock in the morning and studying for uni,” he says, “starting at nine o'clock at the accounting practice, and then taking over at the restaurant at 5.30 until about 10pm. I learnt what hard work is.” He sold the restaurant after about two years, making “a reasonably good profit”.

“The education I received at university was invaluable and a major factor in my career path. I was very impressed with the relaxed atmosphere and the social life, but coming from an all-boys school I remember feeling quite intimidated sitting next to girls, because I didn’t know the etiquette.”

After he graduated at the end of 1984, Peter joined a multinational mining company in Sydney. Within 12 months he was promoted to company secretary, but the lure of the racing industry would prove to be irresistible.

On February 15th, 2003 he married his wife Philippa (nee, Hooke), an executive assistant at the CSIRO. They live in Hunters Hill with the cat and their three children, Katerina, Nicholas and Maddie. Peter and Philippa have followed the Greek-Kytherian tradition of naming their first two children after the paternal grandparents. In fairness Philippa chose Maddies name. Maddies middle name is Anna, named after Peter’s mother’s mother.

Speaking in June 2010, when Nicholas was 20 months old and Katerina six months old, Peter asserted, “That's the best thing that's happened to me, the two little ones. My little girl is completely hyperactive – I don't know where she gets that from – and the little boy's as docile as anything.”

He'd been awake with the kids since 4am but, he says, “I never used to sleep anyway, so it's nothing new. When you work in one of these roles, you lie in bed and your mind just keeps going at 100 miles an hour. You find it very hard to sleep. But when you do, it's a real joy.”

Racing Administration

After commencing his career in the mining and leisure sectors, V’landys became involved in racing administration in 1988 when he was appointed as Chief Executive of the NSW Harness Racing Club the leading harness racing club in Australia which operated successful racing operations at Harold Park and Menangle Paceway. At that time he was the youngest person in Australia to be appointed as Chief Executive of a major metropolitan race club and under his administration, the NSW Harness Racing Club established a record of innovation including conducting an on-track registered club which made Harold Park the first racetrack to have poker machines (200) on course. This and several other commercial enterprises provided the Club with the broadest revenue base of any racing club in Australia.

During his tenure at Harold Park, Peter helped organise a number of Kytherian Association of Australia functions at the race course.

During this period Peter V’landys also played an integral role on behalf of the NSW racing industry in negotiations in relation to the $1 billion privatization of the NSW TAB and the restructuring of the Racing Industry’s finances.

In 2004 he was appointed to the position of Chief executive and Board Member of Racing NSW. In this role Peter V’landys also sits as a Board Member of several other NSW and Australian racing and wagering industry Boards.

Peter V’landys’ career achievements

Equine Influenza


In mid-2007, the States’ (and the country’s) racing industry was brought to a standstill as a result of an outbreak of equine influenza (a highly contagious exotic disease). New South Wales was the most effected State with all racing cancelled and the movement of all horses prohibited indefinitely. These actions had disastrous ramifications for the 50,000 persons who rely on the industry for all or part of their livelihoods and on the economies of Australia and New South Wales.

As V’landys noted, other than wars and the Depression, the only time racing stopped in Australia was in 1814, when Governor Macquarie put a halt to the very popular thoroughbred meetings because people were unfit to work for many days afterwards due to excessive celebrations.

V’landys assumed responsibility for the overall coordination of the industry’s response to this crisis and developed and implemented contingency plans to counter the effects of the outbreak and ensure the protection of the industry’s stakeholders. This involved negotiating with the Federal and State Governments for the provision of funding to establish emergency welfare schemes. He personally negotiated with the Prime Minister, the Hon John Howard MP and was successful in obtaining Government assistance in an unprecedented $235 million Rescue Package.

"Peter V’landys alone devised the concept of subsidising race horses," Peter McGauran, then Federal Agriculture Minister recalls. “At $20 a day for trotters and pacers, and $60 for thoroughbreds, V'landys reasoned they could keep a multibillion-dollar industry afloat - and the trainers, jockeys and strappers in work - so they could race as soon as the disease was eradicated”.

"It was brilliant in its concept," McGauran says. "But subsidising racehorses is a totally foreign concept with treasury and finance." So he introduced V'landys to then Prime Minister Howard - who, after 90 minutes, was a “champion” of the scheme. "Without V'landys enlisting the personal support of John Howard, the industry today would be a shell of what it once was."

McGauran testifies that Peter “builds an instant rapport and establishes a basis of trust quicker than almost anyone I've met. He's compellingly sincere and reliable, and he's relentless in his advocacy for racing, an industry structured in portals of self-interest. His rare gifts are that he got them unified into one voice, and that he understands racing in all its complexity. Too often others have no idea about achieving the possible."

V’landys oversaw the administration of the schemes to combat Equine Influenza, which were directed at participants, not only in the thoroughbred racing industry, but also in the standard bred racing and leisure horse industries.

On a State level Peter worked closely with the Minister for Primary Industries and his Department to contain the spread of the disease and our joint activities helped to mitigate the financial impact of the outbreak.

He also lobbied relevant NSW Ministers for the provision of further financial assistance which resulted in the provision of a $7.5 million grants scheme for the industry’s participants and race clubs and the establishment of a Special Mortgage Deferment Scheme for racing industry participants and a further one off grant to help promote the industry following the resumption of normal racing activities.

V’landys received many letters, and other messages of support, in the days following the announcement that he has received the Member of the Order of Australia award. Peter is not an openly emotional man, but he was genuinely moved by one writer’s sentiments. “I will never forget what you did for the racing industry participants during the equine influenza outbreak,’’ the letter read. “You kept food on the table for many families in racing, you gave us hope to keep going.’’

World Youth Day negotiations with State and Federal Governments

Following the Government’s announcement that the 200x World Youth Day would be held in Sydney and centred at Randwick Racecourse Peter V’landys coordinated the industry’s planning for the use of the Racecourse and the disruption which would be caused to the activities and livelihoods of racing industry participants during the World Youth Day activities. This included dealing with the NSW and Federal Governments and the Catholic Church and he was able to negotiate a $40 million compensation package for the racing industry.

Peter V’landys stood up to the authority of the Catholic Church, and what was referred to at the time, as “bullying tactics”, and won. "I ... think Mr Pell is a bully," V'landys said at the time. "He's refused any meeting with us because he realises he's not in a position of strength, because he's forcing his will on someone who doesn't want to comply. I've got nothing against the Catholic Church, or against a world-significant event, but it shouldn't be at the expense of the racing industry."

Race Field Legislation

Immediately upon his appointment with Racing NSW in 2004, Peter recognized the importance of the Thoroughbred Racing Industry maintaining ownership of the intellectual property rights in its racing product so as to ensure the protection of its wagering revenues.
Initially he explored the application of copyright laws to achieve this purpose. However, in 2008, as a result of his recommendations, the NSW Government enacted race field legislation which allowed the NSW racing industry to generate significant revenue from interstate and overseas wagering operators who were using the NSW product to conduct their wagering operations. Wherever corporate bookmakers based themselves, they had to pay a percentage to Racing NSW for publishing the field.”

In accord with the legislation V’landys developed a scheme for the collection of revenue from those operators. This program is returning up to $50 million per annum to the NSW thoroughbred racing industry and following the successful implementation of the scheme, the Governments and racing industries of other Australian States and Territories also introduced similar schemes.

Subsequent to the commencement of the scheme, the legislation and its implementation were challenged in the courts by two major wagering operators, Sportsbet and Betfair. V’landys coordinated and ran Racing NSW’s legal defense against those challenges and the matter came before a single judge of the Federal Court, the Full bench of the Federal Court, and subsequently before the High Court of Australia which found unanimously in favour of Racing NSW. The March 2012 outcome allowed the release of $150 million in accrued funds to the industry and ensured the on-going receipt of $50 million per annum.

V’landys’ efforts on this front have been recognized world-wide by international racing authorities.

Peter attests that “the biggest battle I've had in racing was with the wagering operators.” Again, he won the long fight but, “it was a strenuous battle, because it got quite personal”. The bookmakers accused him of dissembling, incompetence and misrepresentation. “They unleashed a tsunami of personal attacks which I had to cop. Sometimes I used to go to bed hating myself, after some of the stuff I'd read. It got to a situation when I got home and the cat kicked me, rather than me kicking the cat.”

In addition to its positive effect on the NSW thoroughbred racing industry the High Court result also provided certainty for the NSW Harness Racing and Greyhound Racing industries and all racing industries in the other States and territories, which were then able to proceed confidently with their funding models.

The Australian Jockey Club (AJC) and Sydney Turf Club (STC) merger

The Australian Jockey Club (AJC) was founded in January 1842.The AJC was considered the senior racing club in Australia and was responsible for founding the Australian Stud Book, which the combined club still oversees today. The club also, in conjunction with the Victoria Racing Club, formulated the Rules of Racing that is followed by all Australian race clubs.

The Sydney Turf Club (STC) was founded in 1943 and was the youngest of Australia's principal race clubs. It was formed following an Act passed by the New South Wales parliament called the Sydney Turf Club Act.

Both the AJC and the STC had co-existed as independent bodies since the early 1940s. A merger proposal was first mooted at the turn of the 21st century. However, the first real push for a merger came with the release of a report by Ernst and Young in June 2009 which recommended that a merger would save the New South Wales racing industry from collapse. The NSW Government pledged $174 million for Sydney racing if the merger went ahead, including a major revitalisation of Randwick racecourse. The move for a merger was controversial, with members of both clubs hesitant to lose their respective identities. While AJC members voted in favour of a merger, STC members voted against a merger. Nevertheless, the board of the STC decided to proceed with a merger.

Against resistance from traditionalists, Peter V'landys pushed the merger of the AJC and the STC, and a deal was clinched in October 2010, with a $174 million injection into merged bodies coffers.

Trackside

More recently Peter negotiated the sale to TAB Ltd of the NSW Thoroughbred Racing Industry’s future revenues from the computer generated racing game “trackside”. This sale realised $150 million for the industry and has allowed the development of new world class spectator facilities at the Randwick Racecourse.

These magnificent facilities’ include two new grandstands, a function centre, restaurants, corporate boxes and a 4500-seat horse parade ring. He has also driven significant prize money increases across the three tiers of racing. Little wonder that they call Peter V’landys, “the messiah”, and “the man who saved the industry”.

The small punters mate

Peter V'landys has masterminded deals that have pumped more than a $1 billion into the NSW thoroughbred industry - but it's the little wins for battlers that he holds most dear.
V’landys has said that one his of career highlights was convincing the TAB not to proceed with a decision to increase its minimum bet limit from 50c to $5.

"I felt sorry for all the little punters, many of them pensioners, who really enjoy a 50c each-way flutter,'' he said. "I went as hard as I've ever gone to help keep that minimum limit - it's probably my battler background coming out.''

One of Sydney’s 40 Most influential people. One of Australia’s 50 Top Sports People.

In the Sunday Telegraph of the 3rd March, 2013, Peter was ranked 40th amongst Sydney’s most influential people.
The Australian of the 5th May, 2013 ranked him 22nd amongst the Top 50 Sports People in Australia.

Looking to the Future

It is unheard of for a Chief Executive of Racing at the highest levels to maintain the position for even three years. February 2014 marked 10 years since Peter V’landys was appointed to the position of Chief executive and Board Member of Racing NSW.

Adam Taylor writing in the Daily Telegraph on the 28th February, 2014 argues that “even V'landys must reflect on what a difference a decade makes. Sydney racing is preparing for the inaugural The Championships series and the most anticipated autumn carnival in memory. The sport is well-placed to take full advantage of the gilt-edged opportunities delivered by the preceding decade”.

Peter V’landys is not a person to rest on past achievements. He is always guided by a vision for the future. "There's still a lot of work to be done, the racing industry has many challenges ahead." When asked to elaborate on what those challenges are, he specified the following:

Racing needs to find ways to stay relevant to the new generations.
Racing’s revenue base is and has been under threat so it must do everything in its power to at minimum maintain the base and ideally ensure it grows.
The need to embrace and maximise the advantages provided by technologies
Maintaining the integrity of racing at all cost.

Racings big issues for V’landys include:

The Championship Funding.
“We would never have commenced The Championships if we didn’t believe we could sustain the prize money.

Sydney Race Clubs Merger.
“Naturally with new facilities at Randwick some people’s perception is that the AJC has benefited most. I think the ATC is working very hard to ensure the success at Rosehill.”

Racing’s NSW’s Strategic Plan
It was completed 12 months ago but cannot be released as the major driver for all the initiatives is currently under consideration by a third party and releasing the plan may jeopardise success with the delicate state of play.

Racing Politics
“Like any industry there are people who are driven by self-interest and those who have an unhealthy sense of entitlement. Unfortunately I have a low tolerance for these types”.

The Past Ten Years

“I think in the ten years I experienced every emotion known to humanity. As psychology professor Robert Plutchik says there are eight emotions: joy, sadness, fear, trust, disgust, surprise, anger and anticipation. I definitely experienced every one of these”.

Whilst we are on the subject of psychology, a number of psychological qualities have been consistently attributed to Peter V’landys by astute observers. Above all, he is a winner. Rick Feneley from the Sydney Morning Herald has quipped that “the state's straight-talking racing boss has winning form”. Robert Nason, then Tabcorp's boss of wagering, encountered one of the toughest negotiators he has ever seen. Nason, now with Telstra, always respected V’landys honesty. "A lot of people have underestimated Peter to their ultimate detriment."

V’landys is a hard-nosed negotiator; his modus operandi is to tackle the difficult issues head-on and find a solution with a "can-do" machismo which often irritates his opponents. Peter has time and again been called the “can do” man. Some even go further, calling him a “saviour”, and some go even further still, calling him a “messiah”.

V'landys makes no apologies for refusing to back down when he believes passionately about a cause. He is straight-talking to the point of bluntness. "I think you've got to do your best for any organisation. If that sometimes comes across as abrasive, so be it. I've never wanted to win a popularity contest." V’landys is tough. He is very combative. As one racing identity put it, “he would rather have a fight, than a feed”.

V’landys always thinks holistically about racing. His vision ranges beyond entrenched and factional interests; always seeking the greater good for the entire racing industry.

The Member of the Order of Australia honour is a deserved acknowledgment for the man who has been at the helm of the NSW racing industry for a decade, throughout the most turbulent period in its history. This also makes him very durable.

Peter V’landys achievements are profoundly significant. All Australians, all Greek-Australians and all Kytherians around the world can take great pride in them.

The author would like to thank Peter V’landys for agreeing to be interviewed, and for the candour of his responses. Also to Jim Vlandis, Gosford, for providing information about the Vlandis family in Kalokerines, Kythera.
The structure and content of information about the Racing Industry was sourced from the WIKI entry for Peter V’landys http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_V'landys
Links to numerous newspaper articles about Peter V’landys, and Racing NSW Annual reports were accessed from the WIKI article bibliography as well as Google searches.

Photos > Diaspora Vintage Portraits/ People

submitted by Kytherian Newsletter Sydney on 20.04.2014

Peter V'landys. Chief Executive and Board Member with Racing NSW

Peter V'landys. Member of the Order of Australia (AM)

On Australia Day 2014, Peter V’landys was awarded a Member of the Order of Australia for services to racing.


To view / download a copy of this article as a .pdf, go to:

Peter V'landys.pdf

In the Australian honours system, appointments to the Order of Australia confer recognition for outstanding achievement and service. The Member of the Order of Australia is awarded for service in a particular locality or field of activity or to a particular group.

Recipients of the Order of Australia are from many fields of endeavour and all walks of life. The Order of Australia has four levels:
• Companion of the Order (AC)
• Officer of the Order (AO)
• Member of the Order (AM), and
• Medal of the Order (OAM)

Peter V’landys is one of those fortunate people who are able to combine their passion with their profession. He is an Australian racing administrator who holds the position of Chief Executive and Board Member with Racing NSW (an independent body established to control and regulate the NSW Thoroughbred Racing Industry). As chief executive of Racing NSW, Peter oversees the state’s massive thoroughbred racing industry - the ideal job for someone who has been passionate about racing since childhood. He formerly held the position of Chief Executive of the NSW Harness Racing Club and currently serves on a number of Boards associated with the thoroughbred racing industry.

Peter attributes his Member of the Order of Australia honour to the hard work of his parents, who migrated from Kythera, Greece when he was a young boy.

Kytherian roots

Peter V’landys was born in the Vlandis “patriko” house, in the village of Kalokerines on Kythera, Greece, in 1962. The patriko house of Peter’s grandfather is easy to locate. It lies 80 metres from the church of Ayios Spyridonas, Kalokerines, on the road to Myrtidiotissa. There, 30 metres off the road, on the right, is a ‘camara’, known to all the locals, as “Fossa”. Another ‘patriko’, Peter’s father’s family’s house, is located adjacent to the ‘camara’ of his grandfather.

His pappou, Paul Vlandis – known as “Pavlis” - was extremely well known on Kythera. One of his tasks, in the lead up to ceremony of Myrtidiotissa, was to go to every house on the island on a donkey, and collect the oil that each household donated to the church. Pavlis had 12 children, one of whom was Peter’s father, Nick(olas). Nick was one of four (4) of Pavlis’s twelve (12) children who migrated to Australia.

Peter V’landys mother was Katerina Petrochilos, known as ‘Peters’ in Australia She was the daughter of Alex and Kirrani Petrochilos, from Fratsia, Kythera.

Despite leaving the island at age 3, a number of childhood memories have remained very vivid for Peter. He recalls as a small boy that he loved eating almonds. “I used to eat them by the bucket loads”. When it was time for him to leave the village, his grandfather Pavlis planted an almond tree with him. “You will be gone”, his grandfather said, “but this tree will still be here.”

He vividly remembers falling off a donkey, and “splitting my head open”. Also the many long walks, even as a small child that he undertook, up and down the road between Kalokerines and Myrtidiotissa. He also recalls vividly his best friend at the time - a young girl called Maria.

Peter’s father Nick migrated alone to Australia in 1963. He had joined a brother and sister in Wollongong, and another at Gosford - in Australia. In 1965 Peter’s mother Katerina along with his two older brothers Paul and Alex, left Kythera and migrated to Australia on the Patris.

Jim Vlandis from Gosford recalls picking up the family from the dock in Sydney, and waiting for Nick to arrive from Wollongong to be reunited with his family. The family settled in Wollongong.

Nick and Katerina lived the typical Kytherian-Greek migrant’s life in Australia. “We were very poor,” Peter V’landys says. “It was a struggle early on. My parents sometimes had to go without food to feed the three kids. Dad worked 18-hour days in the Wollongong steelworks. Because he didn't have the language, that was the best he could get. He was a 'doubler'. He worked every day from 6 am and he would normally finish at four, but then he would do a doubler. He'd finish at l am, and then start at six again. He retired when he was 60 and died when he was 64. Mum worked 12-hour shifts in a cafe so that I'd have a good chance in life. My work pales into insignificance compared to theirs. I've never seen a man and woman who worked as hard." Peter had jobs from age nine.

Peter V’landys has returned to Kythera on two occasions, the first time as a 28 year old. “When I went back, the first thing I went to look for was the almond tree. It was there were pappou had planted it”. It filled Peter with joy to see it. He was also reunited again with his childhood friend, Maria.

In 2009 he went back to Kythera a second time with his wife Philippa. On this occasion, under the bed in the patriko home, Peter found a small icon of a patron saint. He put it in his wallet, and has never removed it from his wallet since. “You know, I have lost my wallet twice, but on each occasion it has been returned to me with all its contents intact. I am sure that it was the patron saint that ensured that this happened.” The saint has been identified as Ayia Paraskevi. (See photograph). Again, on the 2009 visit, he met with his childhood friend, Maria. Tragically, Maria has since ‘passed away’.

Personal life

Growing up in Wollongong, Peter fell in love with racing when a friend introduced him to neighbours who used to regularly watch Harold Park harness racing on television. "There was a horse called Paleface Adios that really got my interest. At the age of 10, I used to buy the Trotting Guide and The Sportsman, and go to the TAB and find somebody older, an 18 year old, to put my bets on. “He would take a ‘sling’ (a %) every time I'd win”. I had an unbelievable strike rate. I was a very good form reader. I used to punt quite a bit for a young bloke.” “But I also realised early on that betting really had to be treated as entertainment - it's not something you do if you want to buy a house''?

Peter attended West Wollongong Primary and Keira Boys High School. It was a teacher at Keira who insisted on spelling his name “V-‘-l-a-n-d-y-s”. “He kept on spelling it that way...and it stuck”. At Keira Boys High his mathematics teacher advised him to study Accountancy. (‘There’s no money in Teaching”.) He gained entry to Wollongong University, graduating with a Bachelor of Commerce Degree majoring in Accounting.

To pay his way through accountancy at Wollongong University, V'landys became the manager of the Unanderra Hotel at the tender age of 18. Originally employed as a glass collector and cellarman, owner, Duke Taylor employed him to manage the Hotel. “I thought, 'This a bit of a hard job for me at 18,” says V'landys. “And all the staff agreed. They went on strike.” But V'landys stayed, and Taylor, he says, taught him the motto, “If you can't dazzle them with brilliance, you baffle them with bullshit”. “And that's really been a good piece of advice,” he says. “It's helped me a lot.”

At 20, V'landys used money he had saved and borrowed to buy the Courthouse Tavern – “a good, wholesome, old-fashioned restaurant” across the road from the (legal) Courthouse in Wollongong, which thrived, despite having no new-age chefs et cetera”.

Peter worked part-time for a Wollongong accountancy firm throughout university. “So I was basically getting up at five o'clock in the morning and studying for uni,” he says, “starting at nine o'clock at the accounting practice, and then taking over at the restaurant at 5.30 until about 10pm. I learnt what hard work is.” He sold the restaurant after about two years, making “a reasonably good profit”.

“The education I received at university was invaluable and a major factor in my career path. I was very impressed with the relaxed atmosphere and the social life, but coming from an all-boys school I remember feeling quite intimidated sitting next to girls, because I didn’t know the etiquette.”

After he graduated at the end of 1984, Peter joined a multinational mining company in Sydney. Within 12 months he was promoted to company secretary, but the lure of the racing industry would prove to be irresistible.

On February 15th, 2003 he married his wife Philippa (nee, Hooke), an executive assistant at the CSIRO. They live in Hunters Hill with the cat and their three children, Katerina, Nicholas and Maddie. Peter and Philippa have followed the Greek-Kytherian tradition of naming their first two children after the paternal grandparents. In fairness Philippa chose Maddies name. Maddies middle name is Anna, named after Peter’s mother’s mother.

Speaking in June 2010, when Nicholas was 20 months old and Katerina six months old, Peter asserted, “That's the best thing that's happened to me, the two little ones. My little girl is completely hyperactive – I don't know where she gets that from – and the little boy's as docile as anything.”

He'd been awake with the kids since 4am but, he says, “I never used to sleep anyway, so it's nothing new. When you work in one of these roles, you lie in bed and your mind just keeps going at 100 miles an hour. You find it very hard to sleep. But when you do, it's a real joy.”

Racing Administration

After commencing his career in the mining and leisure sectors, V’landys became involved in racing administration in 1988 when he was appointed as Chief Executive of the NSW Harness Racing Club the leading harness racing club in Australia which operated successful racing operations at Harold Park and Menangle Paceway. At that time he was the youngest person in Australia to be appointed as Chief Executive of a major metropolitan race club and under his administration, the NSW Harness Racing Club established a record of innovation including conducting an on-track registered club which made Harold Park the first racetrack to have poker machines (200) on course. This and several other commercial enterprises provided the Club with the broadest revenue base of any racing club in Australia.

During his tenure at Harold Park, Peter helped organise a number of Kytherian Association of Australia functions at the race course.

During this period Peter V’landys also played an integral role on behalf of the NSW racing industry in negotiations in relation to the $1 billion privatization of the NSW TAB and the restructuring of the Racing Industry’s finances.

In 2004 he was appointed to the position of Chief executive and Board Member of Racing NSW. In this role Peter V’landys also sits as a Board Member of several other NSW and Australian racing and wagering industry Boards.

Peter V’landys’ career achievements

Equine Influenza


In mid-2007, the States’ (and the country’s) racing industry was brought to a standstill as a result of an outbreak of equine influenza (a highly contagious exotic disease). New South Wales was the most effected State with all racing cancelled and the movement of all horses prohibited indefinitely. These actions had disastrous ramifications for the 50,000 persons who rely on the industry for all or part of their livelihoods and on the economies of Australia and New South Wales.

As V’landys noted, other than wars and the Depression, the only time racing stopped in Australia was in 1814, when Governor Macquarie put a halt to the very popular thoroughbred meetings because people were unfit to work for many days afterwards due to excessive celebrations.

V’landys assumed responsibility for the overall coordination of the industry’s response to this crisis and developed and implemented contingency plans to counter the effects of the outbreak and ensure the protection of the industry’s stakeholders. This involved negotiating with the Federal and State Governments for the provision of funding to establish emergency welfare schemes. He personally negotiated with the Prime Minister, the Hon John Howard MP and was successful in obtaining Government assistance in an unprecedented $235 million Rescue Package.

"Peter V’landys alone devised the concept of subsidising race horses," Peter McGauran, then Federal Agriculture Minister recalls. “At $20 a day for trotters and pacers, and $60 for thoroughbreds, V'landys reasoned they could keep a multibillion-dollar industry afloat - and the trainers, jockeys and strappers in work - so they could race as soon as the disease was eradicated”.

"It was brilliant in its concept," McGauran says. "But subsidising racehorses is a totally foreign concept with treasury and finance." So he introduced V'landys to then Prime Minister Howard - who, after 90 minutes, was a “champion” of the scheme. "Without V'landys enlisting the personal support of John Howard, the industry today would be a shell of what it once was."

McGauran testifies that Peter “builds an instant rapport and establishes a basis of trust quicker than almost anyone I've met. He's compellingly sincere and reliable, and he's relentless in his advocacy for racing, an industry structured in portals of self-interest. His rare gifts are that he got them unified into one voice, and that he understands racing in all its complexity. Too often others have no idea about achieving the possible."

V’landys oversaw the administration of the schemes to combat Equine Influenza, which were directed at participants, not only in the thoroughbred racing industry, but also in the standard bred racing and leisure horse industries.

On a State level Peter worked closely with the Minister for Primary Industries and his Department to contain the spread of the disease and our joint activities helped to mitigate the financial impact of the outbreak.

He also lobbied relevant NSW Ministers for the provision of further financial assistance which resulted in the provision of a $7.5 million grants scheme for the industry’s participants and race clubs and the establishment of a Special Mortgage Deferment Scheme for racing industry participants and a further one off grant to help promote the industry following the resumption of normal racing activities.

V’landys received many letters, and other messages of support, in the days following the announcement that he has received the Member of the Order of Australia award. Peter is not an openly emotional man, but he was genuinely moved by one writer’s sentiments. “I will never forget what you did for the racing industry participants during the equine influenza outbreak,’’ the letter read. “You kept food on the table for many families in racing, you gave us hope to keep going.’’

World Youth Day negotiations with State and Federal Governments

Following the Government’s announcement that the 200x World Youth Day would be held in Sydney and centred at Randwick Racecourse Peter V’landys coordinated the industry’s planning for the use of the Racecourse and the disruption which would be caused to the activities and livelihoods of racing industry participants during the World Youth Day activities. This included dealing with the NSW and Federal Governments and the Catholic Church and he was able to negotiate a $40 million compensation package for the racing industry.

Peter V’landys stood up to the authority of the Catholic Church, and what was referred to at the time, as “bullying tactics”, and won. "I ... think Mr Pell is a bully," V'landys said at the time. "He's refused any meeting with us because he realises he's not in a position of strength, because he's forcing his will on someone who doesn't want to comply. I've got nothing against the Catholic Church, or against a world-significant event, but it shouldn't be at the expense of the racing industry."

Race Field Legislation

Immediately upon his appointment with Racing NSW in 2004, Peter recognized the importance of the Thoroughbred Racing Industry maintaining ownership of the intellectual property rights in its racing product so as to ensure the protection of its wagering revenues.
Initially he explored the application of copyright laws to achieve this purpose. However, in 2008, as a result of his recommendations, the NSW Government enacted race field legislation which allowed the NSW racing industry to generate significant revenue from interstate and overseas wagering operators who were using the NSW product to conduct their wagering operations. Wherever corporate bookmakers based themselves, they had to pay a percentage to Racing NSW for publishing the field.”

In accord with the legislation V’landys developed a scheme for the collection of revenue from those operators. This program is returning up to $50 million per annum to the NSW thoroughbred racing industry and following the successful implementation of the scheme, the Governments and racing industries of other Australian States and Territories also introduced similar schemes.

Subsequent to the commencement of the scheme, the legislation and its implementation were challenged in the courts by two major wagering operators, Sportsbet and Betfair. V’landys coordinated and ran Racing NSW’s legal defense against those challenges and the matter came before a single judge of the Federal Court, the Full bench of the Federal Court, and subsequently before the High Court of Australia which found unanimously in favour of Racing NSW. The March 2012 outcome allowed the release of $150 million in accrued funds to the industry and ensured the on-going receipt of $50 million per annum.

V’landys’ efforts on this front have been recognized world-wide by international racing authorities.

Peter attests that “the biggest battle I've had in racing was with the wagering operators.” Again, he won the long fight but, “it was a strenuous battle, because it got quite personal”. The bookmakers accused him of dissembling, incompetence and misrepresentation. “They unleashed a tsunami of personal attacks which I had to cop. Sometimes I used to go to bed hating myself, after some of the stuff I'd read. It got to a situation when I got home and the cat kicked me, rather than me kicking the cat.”

In addition to its positive effect on the NSW thoroughbred racing industry the High Court result also provided certainty for the NSW Harness Racing and Greyhound Racing industries and all racing industries in the other States and territories, which were then able to proceed confidently with their funding models.

The Australian Jockey Club (AJC) and Sydney Turf Club (STC) merger

The Australian Jockey Club (AJC) was founded in January 1842.The AJC was considered the senior racing club in Australia and was responsible for founding the Australian Stud Book, which the combined club still oversees today. The club also, in conjunction with the Victoria Racing Club, formulated the Rules of Racing that is followed by all Australian race clubs.

The Sydney Turf Club (STC) was founded in 1943 and was the youngest of Australia's principal race clubs. It was formed following an Act passed by the New South Wales parliament called the Sydney Turf Club Act.

Both the AJC and the STC had co-existed as independent bodies since the early 1940s. A merger proposal was first mooted at the turn of the 21st century. However, the first real push for a merger came with the release of a report by Ernst and Young in June 2009 which recommended that a merger would save the New South Wales racing industry from collapse. The NSW Government pledged $174 million for Sydney racing if the merger went ahead, including a major revitalisation of Randwick racecourse. The move for a merger was controversial, with members of both clubs hesitant to lose their respective identities. While AJC members voted in favour of a merger, STC members voted against a merger. Nevertheless, the board of the STC decided to proceed with a merger.

Against resistance from traditionalists, Peter V'landys pushed the merger of the AJC and the STC, and a deal was clinched in October 2010, with a $174 million injection into merged bodies coffers.

Trackside

More recently Peter negotiated the sale to TAB Ltd of the NSW Thoroughbred Racing Industry’s future revenues from the computer generated racing game “trackside”. This sale realised $150 million for the industry and has allowed the development of new world class spectator facilities at the Randwick Racecourse.

These magnificent facilities’ include two new grandstands, a function centre, restaurants, corporate boxes and a 4500-seat horse parade ring. He has also driven significant prize money increases across the three tiers of racing. Little wonder that they call Peter V’landys, “the messiah”, and “the man who saved the industry”.

The small punters mate

Peter V'landys has masterminded deals that have pumped more than a $1 billion into the NSW thoroughbred industry - but it's the little wins for battlers that he holds most dear.
V’landys has said that one his of career highlights was convincing the TAB not to proceed with a decision to increase its minimum bet limit from 50c to $5.

"I felt sorry for all the little punters, many of them pensioners, who really enjoy a 50c each-way flutter,'' he said. "I went as hard as I've ever gone to help keep that minimum limit - it's probably my battler background coming out.''

One of Sydney’s 40 Most influential people. One of Australia’s 50 Top Sports People.

In the Sunday Telegraph of the 3rd March, 2013, Peter was ranked 40th amongst Sydney’s most influential people.
The Australian of the 5th May, 2013 ranked him 22nd amongst the Top 50 Sports People in Australia.

Looking to the Future

It is unheard of for a Chief Executive of Racing at the highest levels to maintain the position for even three years. February 2014 marked 10 years since Peter V’landys was appointed to the position of Chief executive and Board Member of Racing NSW.

Adam Taylor writing in the Daily Telegraph on the 28th February, 2014 argues that “even V'landys must reflect on what a difference a decade makes. Sydney racing is preparing for the inaugural The Championships series and the most anticipated autumn carnival in memory. The sport is well-placed to take full advantage of the gilt-edged opportunities delivered by the preceding decade”.

Peter V’landys is not a person to rest on past achievements. He is always guided by a vision for the future. "There's still a lot of work to be done, the racing industry has many challenges ahead." When asked to elaborate on what those challenges are, he specified the following:

Racing needs to find ways to stay relevant to the new generations.
Racing’s revenue base is and has been under threat so it must do everything in its power to at minimum maintain the base and ideally ensure it grows.
The need to embrace and maximise the advantages provided by technologies
Maintaining the integrity of racing at all cost.

Racings big issues for V’landys include:

The Championship Funding.
“We would never have commenced The Championships if we didn’t believe we could sustain the prize money.

Sydney Race Clubs Merger.
“Naturally with new facilities at Randwick some people’s perception is that the AJC has benefited most. I think the ATC is working very hard to ensure the success at Rosehill.”

Racing’s NSW’s Strategic Plan
It was completed 12 months ago but cannot be released as the major driver for all the initiatives is currently under consideration by a third party and releasing the plan may jeopardise success with the delicate state of play.

Racing Politics
“Like any industry there are people who are driven by self-interest and those who have an unhealthy sense of entitlement. Unfortunately I have a low tolerance for these types”.

The Past Ten Years

“I think in the ten years I experienced every emotion known to humanity. As psychology professor Robert Plutchik says there are eight emotions: joy, sadness, fear, trust, disgust, surprise, anger and anticipation. I definitely experienced every one of these”.

Whilst we are on the subject of psychology, a number of psychological qualities have been consistently attributed to Peter V’landys by astute observers. Above all, he is a winner. Rick Feneley from the Sydney Morning Herald has quipped that “the state's straight-talking racing boss has winning form”. Robert Nason, then Tabcorp's boss of wagering, encountered one of the toughest negotiators he has ever seen. Nason, now with Telstra, always respected V’landys honesty. "A lot of people have underestimated Peter to their ultimate detriment."

V’landys is a hard-nosed negotiator; his modus operandi is to tackle the difficult issues head-on and find a solution with a "can-do" machismo which often irritates his opponents. Peter has time and again been called the “can do” man. Some even go further, calling him a “saviour”, and some go even further still, calling him a “messiah”.

V'landys makes no apologies for refusing to back down when he believes passionately about a cause. He is straight-talking to the point of bluntness. "I think you've got to do your best for any organisation. If that sometimes comes across as abrasive, so be it. I've never wanted to win a popularity contest." V’landys is tough. He is very combative. As one racing identity put it, “he would rather have a fight, than a feed”.

V’landys always thinks holistically about racing. His vision ranges beyond entrenched and factional interests; always seeking the greater good for the entire racing industry.

The Member of the Order of Australia honour is a deserved acknowledgment for the man who has been at the helm of the NSW racing industry for a decade, throughout the most turbulent period in its history. This also makes him very durable.

Peter V’landys achievements are profoundly significant. All Australians, all Greek-Australians and all Kytherians around the world can take great pride in them.

The author would like to thank Peter V’landys for agreeing to be interviewed, and for the candour of his responses. Also to Jim Vlandis, Gosford, for providing information about the Vlandis family in Kalokerines, Kythera.
The structure and content of information about the Racing Industry was sourced from the WIKI entry for Peter V’landys http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_V'landys
Links to numerous newspaper articles about Peter V’landys, and Racing NSW Annual reports were accessed from the WIKI article bibliography as well as Google searches.

Photos > Diaspora Vintage Portraits/ People

submitted by Kytherian Newsletter Sydney on 14.04.2014

Peter Clary Castrission OAM

A rare breed of individual: altruistic in a world where self-interested
ambitions are often prized and admired. His determination to succeed
and his compassion for his fellow man are indeed exceptional traits
.”

View / download a copy of this entry as a .pdf:

Clary Castrssion.pdf


In the Australia Day Honours List it was announced that Peter Clary Castrission had been awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia for service to international relations through providing educational opportunities to people in India.

Clary Castrission (as he is known) is no ordinary medal recipient. At the age of 30 years he has packed in a lifetime of charitable endeavour and demonstrated an incredible spirit of humanity that the rest of us could only dream about.

Clary is the son of John and Vivienne Castrission of Gordon. His paternal grandfather, Jim Castrission, originally from Kastrissianika in Kythera, established the iconic Niagara Café at Gundagai.

His younger brother James Castrission has become a well-known adventurer, crossing the ditch to New Zealand in a two man kayak and walking unassisted to the South Pole.

The essence of adventure is seemingly embedded in the Castrission DNA.
Clary attended Knox Grammar and then obtained degrees in Arts and Law (with Honours) at the University of Technology of Sydney. But as a 22-year old law student at UTS, Clary was trying to work out how to get involved in international issues when one of his lecturers, Professor Sam Blay, gave him a telling piece of advice that would forever change Clary’s
world outlook: “If you really want to get involved in international poverty-reduction, don’t do it from a high-rise in New York or Geneva; go to the developing world and get your hands dirty.”

So it was that in 2005 Clary set off with a fellow student, Karyn Avery, to go to India. What they saw outside of the main cities was very disturbing as they were confronted by the extreme level of poverty and despair, particularly around the city of Bangalore where the local granite mines and quarries employed workers on as little as $2 a day to break rock. These exploited workers often extended beyond several generations within the same family and the primitive slum conditions in which they lived and worked meant that they could not afford even a basic education for their children.

Clary Castrission knew that a proper education could change the life of these children and provide them with a more positive future. He thought it would cost $40,000 and so he set up a non-governmental organisation (or NGO) called 40K Foundation Australia with the goal of raising enough funds to purchase land and build a new orphanage and school for the children of the quarry workers.

The 40K actually refers to Clary’s initial investment in the project of $40,000 which amounted to his life savings at the time. Although that was in hindsight a naïve estimate for establishing a school, Clary was more determined than ever. As he later wrote: “I think the best thing about starting out as naive as we were, is that if we knew how much work we were getting into, we would have been scared off. I think naiveté is one of our greatest gifts. You’ll actually have the courage to take on something big.”

Five years later the Banyan School opened on the outskirts of Bangalore. The school now has 300 pupils. But Clary has not stopped there. It is not a one school wonder. As the CEO of the Foundation, Clary is overseeing an organisation that is providing more than a 1,000 children a quality education throughout India with the establishment of after-school education centres called ‘pods’ for kids living in poverty in rural Indian villages who need that extra support in English, maths and reading through game-based learning through computer tablets.

The 40K Foundation, now with many sponsors and backers and volunteers, is looking to help empower India’s children to rise above the poverty trap. Clary is also interested in pursuing strategies to eradicate child labour in Indian quarries.

For his work Clary Castrission was one of the final three young Australians nominated for "Young Australian of the Year" in 2011. He has also received numerous awards including the Commonwealth Day Award for Citizenship in 2009 and the Australia-India Friendship Award in 2012.

And now his extraordinary commitment to striving for the rights of India’s
underprivileged citizens to receive a basic education has been recognised at a national level with his richly deserved OAM.

As one journalist has recently written, Clary Castrission is a “rare breed of individual: altruistic in a world where self-interested ambitions are often prized and admired”. His determination to succeed and his compassion for his fellow man are indeed exceptional traits.

The Kytherian Association heartily congratulates Clary for making a real difference in this world.

Sources:


Empowering individuals in India UTS

SMH. Whats happened to our sense of fair go

Clary Castrission Graduation speech

Clary Castrission
Foundation


Published under the title - Ordinary Kytherians - Extraordinary achievements, pages 22 & 23, The Kytherian, Newsletter of the Kytherian Association of Australia, March, 2014

Author: George Vardas

Photos > Diaspora Vintage Portraits/ People

submitted by Kytherian Newsletter Sydney on 13.04.2014

Peter Prineas (left) with wilderness photographer Henry Gold, in the Snowy Mountains 1982.

Australia Day Award, for Peter Prineas. 2012.

Peter Prineas (left) with Jim Somerville an old comrade of rainforest and wilderness campaigns

Among the honours announced by the Governor General on Australia Day 2012 was the award to Peter Prineas of an Order of Australia Medal (OAM) for his "service to conservation and the environment through executive and advocacy roles".

Peter's involvement in conservation and environmental issues grew out of his early interest in bushwalking and friendship with the Sydney conservationist Milo Dunphy. While a university student in the early 1970s, Peter joined the Colong Committee and participated in efforts to save Lake Pedder in Tasmania and the Boyd Plateau forest in the mountains south-west of Sydney. Later he was appointed as the first Executive Officer of the National Parks Association of NSW where he directed his writing and legal skills into successful public campaigns to save rainforests from logging and for the establishment of new national parks. Some of the contested forests are now World Heritage Areas. He also worked for the preservation of wilderness areas and helped secure the enactment of wilderness protection legislation in 1987.

Peter contributed to community environmental organisations at a senior level for over 30 years. As well as the National Parks Association, he held honorary positions with the Nature Conservation Council of NSW and served as its Chairman for three years. He was also a long-time member of the board of the Colong Foundation for Wilderness, taking the Chair in 2007. He was Convener of the first Sydney Water Project in the 1990s and assisted the Nature Conservation Council with urban water policy up to about 2007.

Peter also represented community environmental interests on government committees and boards including the National Parks and Wildlife Advisory Council and the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) Board.

In recent years Peter has produced books on Greek Australian themes but his earlier books were about the environment. With photographer Henry Gold, he published 'Colo Wilderness' in 1977 and 'Wild Places' in 1983. These books argued for the protection of extensive tracts of bushland in the eastern highlands of NSW, most of which are now reserved in national parks.

How an Australian Day honour is awarded:

In the Australian honours system, appointments to the Order of Australia confer recognition for outstanding achievement and service. Recipients of the Order of Australia are from many fields of endeavour and all walks of life. The Order of Australia is the pre-eminent way Australians recognise the achievements and service of their fellow citizens. Nominations to the Order of Australia come directly from the community: either individuals or groups. The 19-member Council for the Order of Australia then considers the nominations. The Council makes its recommendations, independent of government, direct to the Governor-General.

Awards in the Order of Australia are publicly announced on Australia Day (26 January) and the Queen’s Birthday public holiday (June).

This article appeared in the March edition of The Kytherian, Newsletter of the Kytherian Association of Australia.

View / download a .pdf version here:

Australia_Day_Award_for_Peter_Prineas.pdf

Photos > Diaspora Vintage Portraits/ People

submitted by Kytherian Newsletter Sydney on 13.04.2014

Peter Prineas (left) with Jim Somerville an old comrade of rainforest and wilderness campaigns.

The photograph was published in conjunction with the announcedment of an Order of Australia conferred on Peter Prineas.

Australia Day Award, for Peter Prineas. 2012.

Among the honours announced by the Governor General on Australia Day 2012 was the award to Peter Prineas of an Order of Australia Medal (OAM) for his "service to conservation and the environment through executive and advocacy roles".

Peter's involvement in conservation and environmental issues grew out of his early interest in bushwalking and friendship with the Sydney conservationist Milo Dunphy. While a university student in the early 1970s, Peter joined the Colong Committee and participated in efforts to save Lake Pedder in Tasmania and the Boyd Plateau forest in the mountains south-west of Sydney. Later he was appointed as the first Executive Officer of the National Parks Association of NSW where he directed his writing and legal skills into successful public campaigns to save rainforests from logging and for the establishment of new national parks. Some of the contested forests are now World Heritage Areas. He also worked for the preservation of wilderness areas and helped secure the enactment of wilderness protection legislation in 1987.

Peter contributed to community environmental organisations at a senior level for over 30 years. As well as the National Parks Association, he held honorary positions with the Nature Conservation Council of NSW and served as its Chairman for three years. He was also a long-time member of the board of the Colong Foundation for Wilderness, taking the Chair in 2007. He was Convener of the first Sydney Water Project in the 1990s and assisted the Nature Conservation Council with urban water policy up to about 2007.

Peter also represented community environmental interests on government committees and boards including the National Parks and Wildlife Advisory Council and the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) Board.

In recent years Peter has produced books on Greek Australian themes but his earlier books were about the environment. With photographer Henry Gold, he published 'Colo Wilderness' in 1977 and 'Wild Places' in 1983. These books argued for the protection of extensive tracts of bushland in the eastern highlands of NSW, most of which are now reserved in national parks.

Photograph: Peter Prineas (left) with Jim Somerville an old comrade of rainforest and wilderness campaigns.

Photograph: Peter Prineas (left) with wilderness photographer Henry Gold, in the Snowy Mountains 1982.

How an Australian Day honour is awarded:

In the Australian honours system, appointments to the Order of Australia confer recognition for outstanding achievement and service. Recipients of the Order of Australia are from many fields of endeavour and all walks of life. The Order of Australia is the pre-eminent way Australians recognise the achievements and service of their fellow citizens. Nominations to the Order of Australia come directly from the community: either individuals or groups. The 19-member Council for the Order of Australia then considers the nominations. The Council makes its recommendations, independent of government, direct to the Governor-General.

Awards in the Order of Australia are publicly announced on Australia Day (26 January) and the Queen’s Birthday public holiday (June).

This article appeared in the March edition of The Kytherian, Newsletter of the Kytherian Association of Australia.

View / download a .pdf version here:

Australia_Day_Award_for_Peter_Prineas.pdf

Photos > Diaspora Vintage Portraits/ People

submitted by Lafcadio Hearn Files on 15.03.2014

Alexandra Papathopoulou, a person involved in the story about...

translating 3 Lafcadio Hearn books into Greek.

[This is the first time in history that entire Lafacdio Hearn books have been translated, with a view to having them printed and published]

Μεταφράζοντας τον Λευκάδιο Χερν στα ελληνικά ギリシャ語訳ラフカディオ・ハーン

Τέτη Σώλου: Οι μεταφράσεις μου των έργων του Λευκάδιου Χερν και οι σημειώσεις μου σχετικά με το έργο και τη ζωή του.

Η ιστορία ενός συμβόλου


Πριν από πολλά χρόνια η Άννα μου είχε χαρίσει ένα κόσμημά της. Μια καρφίτσα από αλπακά. Η αξία του κοσμήματος είναι μικρή. Η «από διαθέσεως αξία», που λένε τα νομικά βιβλία είναι μεγάλη, μια και το δώρο είναι από τη γιαγιά μου που κι εκείνης της το είχε δώσει η προγιαγιά μου. Οικογενειακό κειμήλιο μ' άλλα λόγια.

H καρφίτσα της γιαγιάς. Xρυσάνθεμο Kαρφίτσα

Η συναισθηματική του αξία έγινε ακόμα πιο μεγάλη, όταν συνάντησα την ίδια καρφίτσα σε μια παλιά φωτογραφία της Αλεξάνδρας Παπαδοπούλου. Ναι, ναι της πρώτης Ελληνίδας διηγηματογράφου, που την αγαπώ πολύ και που παρ' όλο που έζησε λίγους μήνες στη Θεσσαλονίκη, εγώ την έχω συνδέσει με την αγαπημένη μου πόλη. Το βιβλίο που έχω γράψει για τη Θεσσαλονίκη ξεκίνησε από ένα μικρό κείμενό της.

Στην μοναδική φωτογραφία της που σώζεται, η Αλεξάνδρα Παπαδοπούλου φοράει μια καρφίτσα ίδια, ολόιδια με το δώρο της γιαγιάς. Τυχαίο;

Ο Λευκάδιος Χερν και η Ιαπωνία που γνώρισα μέσα από τα γραπτά του μ' έφεραν μπροστά στο ιτσιμοντζιγκινού. Στο χρυσάνθεμο που είναι το σύμβολο του αυτοκράτορα. Συνδέθηκε με την αυτοκρατορική οικογένεια εξ αιτίας της ομοιότητάς του με τον ήλιο.

Xρυσάνθεμο Iαπωνία

Στην ιαπωνική μυθολογία η θεά του ήλιου, η Αματεράσου, έφερε στον κόσμο τον Τζιμμού, τον πρώτο αυτοκράτορα της Ιαπωνίας. Το αυτοκρατορικό έμβλημα παρουσιάζει ένα χρυσό χρυσάνθεμο με δεκαέξι πέταλα, γνωστό ως ιτσιμοντζιγκινού.

Τζιμμού, ο πρώτος αυτοκράτορας της Ιαπωνίας

Το χρυσάνθεμο, που μοιάζει με τον ήλιο που τόσο λαμπερός φαίνεται πίσω από τον Τζιμμού, βρήκα πως είναι ένα παγκόσμιο σύμβολο. Ιάπωνες, Ασσσύριοι, Σουμέριοι, Αιγύπτιοι ως το Μεξικό είχαν συγκινηθεί από αυτό το σύμβολο.
Το ίδιο και οι αρχαίοι Έλληνες. Από το παλάτι του Μίνωα στην Κνωσσό μέχρι τον τάφο του Φιλίππου συναντάμε αυτόν τον συνδυασμό του παντοδύναμου ήλιου με το λουλούδι σε πλήρη άνθιση αποτυπωμένο σε τοιχογραφίες, αγγεία, λάρνακες, αγάλματα.

Ψάχνοντας χτες το βράδυ τα χαρτιά μου σύνδεσα όλες αυτές τις πληροφορίες κι έκανα συνειρμούς που δεν είχα κάνει πρωτύτερα. Η καρφίτσα της γιαγιάς και της Αλεξάνδρας Παπαδοπούλου, το λαμπερό σύμβολο της χώρας του Ανατέλλοντος Ήλιου και της Αρχαίας Ελλάδας από την Κρήτη μέχρι τη Μακεδονία... και όχι μόνο.

Το σήμα της σειράς των έργων του Λευκάδιου Χερν σε μετάφραση Τέτης Σώλου

Είναι ταιριαστό να συνοδεύει τη σειρά των έργων του Λευκάδιου Χερν, του οικουμενικού ανθρώπου με το ανοιχτό μυαλό, ένα οικουμενικό σύμβολο πνευματικής δύναμης και ακμής. Ο ίδιος ο Λευκάδιος δεν γνώρισε παρακμή. Ο θάνατος τον βρήκε στα 54 χρόνια του έχοντας αφήσει σπουδαίο συγγραφικό έργο κι έχοντας ενδεχομένως άλλα τόσα να γράψει.

Το εξώφυλλο του Κοττό

Photos > Diaspora Vintage Portraits/ People

submitted by Sydney Morning Herald on 02.03.2014

Peter V'landys. A protector of his turf

Sydney Morning Herald

November 3, 2007


Peter V'landys is as fearless as he was in his youth and continues to take on politicians, corporations and the Catholic Church, writes David Humphries.

Duke Taylor was not a bloke for backward steps. Thirty years ago as the proprietor of Wollongong's Unanderra Hotel - then the state's biggest outside Sydney - Taylor needed a pub manager in a hurry.

He plucked from obscurity an 18-year-old immigrant kid paying his way through accountancy at Wollongong University. The rest of the crew - 70 of them - was outraged, and went on strike, insisting they would not be bossed by someone so wet behind the ears. It was, of course, to no avail.

"Duke, one of my mentors in life, wouldn't give in, so I managed the hotel full-time (with the strikers back in the fold) for two years while at university," says Peter V'landys (pronounced Velandees). His regret then was that it cost him his rugby league playing career, even though he reckons he had what it took to make the big time. His short stature for a backrow forward was countered by the physical hardening of years as a part-time furniture removalist , and the determination never to die wondering.

The V'landys now so much in the headlines for his David and Goliath battles with political, corporate and church might (and vested interests in his own sector) on behalf of NSW thoroughbred racing - which he says is at its "greatest crossroads" - was forged in those early days.
"I wasn't the biggest bloke" on the rugby league field, he acknowledges, but right now the bulk of the racing industry reckon he is 10 feet tall. Testimonials for the chief executive of the state's regulatory body, Racing NSW, speak for themselves.

Gai Waterhouse, leading trainer: "Peter has been instrumental in standing solid. People tend to pitch up for themselves, rather than for the industry as a whole. But Peter has been very good at getting people to realise their joint interests, rather than their sectional."

Norman Gillespie is the new boss of the Australian Jockey Club, one of V'landys's key obstacles when he took the job four years ago. Gillespie was previously chief administrator of the Opera House: "It took the EI (equine influenza) crisis for him to come to the fore. He is certainly a formidable negotiator and great on his media feet. EI is the circuit-breaker, the breakpoint for the industry, to unite behind one voice.
"Peter and the AJC [which ran the gallops from its Royal Randwick headquarters until Racing NSW was established a decade ago, and which jealously resented the intrusion on its fiefdom] did not previously get along, but I can tell you we're Darby and Joan now. Peter is my kind of guy."

John Messara, leading breeder: "He's done his best in difficult circumstances, a very good job, and he's gained broad respect for his agitation on EI. He's a very passionate guy, a bit of a bull at the gate, but always well-intentioned, always with the industry's interests at heart."
Peter McGauran, the Federal Agriculture Minister with whom V'landys negotiated a breakthrough $234 million package for EI: "He builds an instant rapport and establishes a basis of trust quicker than almost anyone I've met. He's compellingly sincere and reliable, and he's relentless of his advocacy of racing, an industry structured in portals of self-interest. His rare gifts are that he got them unified into one voice, and that he understands racing in all its complexity. Too often others have no idea about achieving the possible."

Les Young, recently chairman of the Racing Industry Participants Advisory Committee to Racing NSW: "He's had rocky times when he has not always endeared himself to all sectors, but he has really shone in this time of crisis. The industry has been very lucky to have had in place someone so committed and effective a negotiator, a saviour of the industry."

John Muir, president of Thoroughbred Breeders NSW: "It was like war with the EI crisis. The racing and breeding industry was pinned down in the trenches. Peter V'landys rallied his troops, demonstrated by example that he was prepared to take all the bullets, and fought and negotiated tirelessly with bureaucracy to achieve an acceptable outcome. He deserves a medal."

Brian Fletcher, chief executive of Hawkesbury race club, one of five "provincial", or third-tier, tracks in NSW: "He's as smart a racing administrator as I've seen in 19 years - and I've seen them all. The industry would have struggled to survive without him."

The naysayers are not so forthcoming, reflecting probably V'landys's ascendancy in these troubled times. Resentment towards V'landys still runs deep at the Rosehill headquarters of the Sydney Turf Club, even though it was one of the key agitators for stripping the Australian Jockey Club of its previous control of racing. The Sydney Turf Club chose to make no comment for this article, and the AJC, with board and management replaced, chooses co-operation over obstruction.

Born on the Greek island of Kythera 46 years ago, V'landys migrated early with his family to Wollongong, where dad Nicholas worked in the steel mills and his mother in a cafe.

"We barely got to see them because they were always working to do the best for the family," he says.

His youth - football, work, education filling the available hours - served as an apprenticeship for the day he again would be required to juggle so many challenges simultaneously.

After a stint as a mining company accountant in Sydney, he audaciously applied at 26 for the chief executive job at the Harness Racing Club at Harold Park, even though he did not know Glebe's location. He turned around its misfortunes and came to the notice of the fledgling Racing NSW when he negotiated (to the benefit of thoroughbred racing too) a healthy distribution of totalisator revenue when the TAB was sold.

The racing regulator's courtship of V'landys might have come too late had he secured the chief executive role at the National Rugby League. "I was considered the frontrunner but I must have fallen over in the straight," he says. "But I'm glad in some ways I didn't go there." So, too, is his growing following in the NSW thoroughbred business.
V'landys has been caught in the headlights of three simultaneous crises - EI, the disruption to Randwick by next winter's Papal visit, with its intrusion by hundreds of thousands of youth pilgrims risking next year's spring carnival (lost this year to EI), and outrage over the Iemma Government's backdoor negotiations to admit the Packer-associated betting exchange, Betfair. Like Duke Taylor before him, he's not taken a backward step.

But it is not as if the seas are suddenly tumultuous. The broader picture is one of the sport of kings struggling, and to date mostly failing, to keep its crown. Attendances have plummeted and betting stagnated, forcing an exodus of trainers, jockeys and horses.

None of this was aided by V'landys's loss two years ago to the Australian Jockey Club and Sydney Turf Club over the clubs' negotiation of television rights with ThoroughbredVision (TVN) over the TAB-owned Sky Channel. V'landys likens the agreement - which gives TVN exclusivity over the Jockey Club, the Turf Club and Victorian racing - to a couple of NRL clubs doing side deals on broadcasting.

But Racing NSW's effort to block the deal fell flat on its face in the Supreme Court, exposing as a toothless tiger the NSW law supposedly bestowing full authority on the regulator.

"As history showed, all our concerns [confirmed by independent analysis from PricewaterhouseCoopers] came to fruition, and we lost $160 million in betting turnover - the industry's main source of income - when punters turned away in droves," V'landys says.

Had the two premier race clubs been able to get rid of V'landys then, they most certainly would have.

Having promised a legislative repair job to re-assert Racing NSW's authority, the State Government has been far less accommodating on Betfair. "We've got a government that doesn't understand racing; a new minister [Graham West] - a nice enough fella - who hasn't been to a racetrack in his life, and yet he's been thrust on a multibillion business," V'landys says.

Betfair, he says, is offering the industry a return of 24 cents in every $100 bet, and nothing to the Government, compared with $4.50 each from TAB distributions.

"The biggest irony is that the biggest loser is the Government, and yet they're going behind the scenes negotiating with these operators on how much they should pay us. That's a negotiation for us and them, not government."

Unlike the State Government failure to even consult with racing on Betfair, V'landys's indefatigability struck Federal Government pay dirt on the influenza epidemic that nine weeks ago locked down all matters equine in NSW and Queensland.

On the day before APEC began in Sydney, he was given 90 minutes to convince the Prime Minister of the need for an unprecedented rescue package built on the novel idea of a daily subsidy for each affected horse - $20 for trotters and pacers, $60 for thoroughbreds.

McGauran, who set up the meeting with John Howard, says: "The idea of such payments was foreign to Treasury and Finance; they couldn't get their heads around it. But V'landys explained it to the Prime Minister with clarity and conviction."

V'landys says: "I was astounded with his level of knowledge of the industry. The Prime Minister had no hesitation. He could see the sense of it."

But V'landys is still knocking his head against the Randwick papal invasion brick wall of the Catholic Church, rather than locking horns with its Australian leader, the Sydney archbishop, Cardinal George Pell.
"I still think Mr Pell is a bully," V'landys says. "He's refused any meeting with us because he realises he's not in a position of strength, because he's forcing his will on someone who doesn't want to comply.
"I've got nothing against the Catholic Church, against a world-significant event, but it shouldn't be at the expense of the racing industry."

V'landys is straight-talking to the point of bluntness. "I think you've got to do your best for any organisation. If that sometimes comes across as abrasive, so be it. I've never wanted to win a popularity contest."
He has confronted head-on the snobbery and occasionally aristocratic bearing of racing's elite.

"In any industry, there are vocal minority groups that get more than they should, and I broke up a lot of these cliques - they called it the mafia. The biggest handicap in racing is that they don't like change."

Photos > Diaspora Vintage Portraits/ People

submitted by Sydney Morning Herald on 27.02.2014

Kudos flows to Peter V'landys, the man who got bookies to pay their way

Peter was one of three Kytherians honoured on Australia Day, 2014. The others were Angelo Notaras, and Clary Castrission

Photograph: Fighter: Peter V'landys at his desk. ''Everyone knows I'm the gunslinger,'' he says. Photo: Anthony Johnson

Sydney Morning Herald

January 26, 2014

Andrew Webster
Chief Sports Writer, The Sydney Morning Herald

This tough guy in a tie hasn't forgotten where he came from.

He has taken on the prime minister, the Pope and then a force of nature larger than all of them - the corporate bookmakers.

The common line proffered from more than one stakeholder in the multibillion-dollar racing industry nails him in one: ''He'd rather a fight than a feed.''

''I take that as a compliment,'' says Peter V'landys, chief executive of Racing NSW. ''I'm proud of that. I know in myself that I'm a tough negotiator. The people who don't like me - and I know there are people who don't like me - are the hangers-on and the parasites, and I don't have any time for them either. You help the good people. Everyone knows I'm a hard negotiator. Everyone knows I'm the gunslinger.''

On Sunday, the most powerful and equally controversial man in NSW racing will be named in the Australia Day honours as a Member of the Order of Australia.

It will be a triumph for the obstinacy and resolve of V'landys, the third-youngest boy of Greek migrants who came to Australia in the 1960s in search of a better life.

It will be recognition for the fact V'landys has earned roughly $1 billion for his sport since his appointment in 2004, after navigating it through several major crises, and despite how some in a sport flush with old money and dynasties still consider him.

''There are some of them [in the racing industry] who think, 'What's an immigrant bloke doing running racing?','' he says. ''No matter what you do, there's still racism. And you live with it. I still cop it. This award is for all the hard work my mum and dad put in.''

They say you know when V'landys has had a big day of work at the track, because his shirt is hanging out the back of his pants, and his hair is all fuzzed up. His suit is more Kelly Country than Hugo Boss. He'd rather roll up his sleeves than worry about whether there's a French cuff at the end of them.

When the equine influenza outbreak threatened to cripple racing in 2007, it was V'landys who personally squeezed a $235 million rescue package out of the prime minister, John Howard.

The scene: the son of poor Greek migrants wanting millions from one of the country's shrewdest PMs.

''You couldn't describe it better,'' he says. ''I thought, 'What am I doing here?' But we're all the same. John Howard is the same as me. I can talk to him but have the same respect for the guy who collects the rubbish at Randwick racecourse. I treat them the same. That's how I was brought up. I treated him as John.

''I told him there were 50,000 people out of work, and we got offered $5 million from the federal government. I said, 'I'm not taking that. That's ridiculous.' Some other administrators might've said that's enough but I didn't.''

A year later V'landys negotiated $40 million from the federal and NSW governments, and the Catholic Church, when the church held World Youth Day at Randwick racecourse.

Then he marched the cashed-up corporate bookmakers all the way up every step of every court in the land, ending with the High Court, as he pushed through legislation that handed the racing industry $150 million in frozen funds and a further $60 million each year.

''I've never made a decision that was easy for me,'' V'landys says. ''If I went the other way, I'd never forgive myself. I knew I could've sat here and made a nice crust and let the racing industry die on the vine. Sometimes you have to fight. If you don't lose blood in your job, you're not doing your job.

''If you look at the personal crap I went through and continue to go through … Nobody saw the trolls that I saw. At one stage, when I read them, I started hating myself.''

He chuckles. It's difficult to tell if it's self-effacement or just for show.

''One guy came in for an interview here, saying he wanted to meet me,'' he continues. ''He wanted to tell me that the directive of the boss - and I won't tell you the name of the bookie, but he was one of the leading ones - was to get on all the [internet] forums and make up a name and bad [mouth] V'landys when we had spare time. Just give it to him.''

In many respects, they picked the wrong bloke to brawl with, because V'landys has been fighting his whole life. He grew up in Wollongong, and his father, Nicholas, worked 18 hours a day in the steel works.

''And he was better than that,'' explains V'landys. ''Because he didn't have the language, that was the best he could get. He was a 'doubler'. He worked every day from 6am and he would normally finish at four, but then he would do a doubler. He'd finish at 1am, then start at six again. He retired when he was 60 and died when he was 64.''

His mother, Katerina, is still alive.

V'landys grew up adoring two things apart from his parents: Dragons fullback Graeme Langlands and the great pacer Paleface Adios.

''I stalked that horse,'' he explains. ''I would go to Harold Park. I caught the train and snuck away and my parents didn't know where I was. I'd stand at the gate and watch him. From the age of about seven or eight, I would be at the TAB. I was the TAB's youngest customer.

''I got this bloke who was 18 to bet for me, and the bastard would charge me a commission. Every time he won, he pocketed 20 per cent but I didn't care because I just needed to get the bets on.''

A talented rugby league player, V'landys sank the wages he earned managing a hotel in Wollongong into buying the Courthouse Tavern when he was only 19. ''I used the catchphrase, 'You can be the judge'.''

Then, in the late 1980s, he became chief executive at Harold Park at just 26, turning it from a $1.5 million basket case into the black within his first 12 months.

In 2004, he was approached by Racing NSW - then known as the Thoroughbred Racing Board - to become its chief executive. He had already accepted a lucrative position at the New Zealand TAB, but the board was adamant that V'landys was its man and convinced him to sign.

Since then, he has become racing's most influential man.

''I disagree with that,'' he says. ''Nah. I think [chairman] John Messara is the equal if not bigger. He's my chairman here now. He is a man driven by passion. I thought I was driven by passion. He's equal. That's a nice thing to say, but I disagree with it. We pale in significance to Gai [Waterhouse].''

Messara is the founder of the Championships, the $18 million carnival to be held over two Saturdays at Royal Randwick next year that will include 10 group 1 races.

''I've seen seven chairmen in 10 years,'' V'landys offers.

Right. How many did you get rid of?

''I haven't got rid of any,'' he fires back. ''I'm very lucky - I've got on with every one of the chairmen. John Messara and I are a team.''

Suggest the Racing NSW board gives him too much autonomy, and V'landys is defensive, punching his way out of the corner as always.

''No,'' he says, bluntly. ''This board is very professional in terms of corporate governance. A lot of times I get blamed for things that I've argued against. There have been many times when things have gone pear-shaped that I argued they would go pear-shaped. But they're the masters. No one will ever know any issue where I didn't agree. You're a team, you're loyal.''

Then he takes a swipe - unprovoked - at the Australian Turf Club.

''That's where the ATC, that's where I feel sorry for Darren [Pearce],'' he says. ''They don't let him be a CEO. They get too involved in the micro. They should be the macro. Darren's got immense ability as an administrator. Let him run the joint, but they don't.''

I point to a lavish, glossy brochure on the table detailing the Championships and ask if this is a move towards Racing NSW taking over the ATC, which has been the street-corner tip for months.

''Not at all,'' he bristles. ''Racing NSW will never run a race club. I'm aware of the rumours. It's always used against us when we are tough about something. 'Oh, you are just trying to take power off us.'

''I want the race club to be autonomous. I want to help them. I got $150 million for the grandstand. We can't run race clubs - we're the regulator. It's a scaremongering tactic used against us by people who think we're too tough.''

V'landys equally dead-bats questions about whether he was the pea to become David Gallop's replacement as NRL chief executive last year.

Asked if he was interested in the position, he says: ''No, not really. It was never offered so it's a hypothetical question. My chairman came to me and asked if I was interested, and I was honest and said no.''

There is a school of thought that V'landys was looking for more money from his next Racing NSW contract, although others say he was genuinely interested in the NRL job.

When we meet in his office at Racing NSW headquarters in the CBD, he shows me his new watch - a phone and camera all in one. ''I have a thing for gadgets,'' he explains.

At home, he has old-school Space Invaders and pinball machines.

''I'm very proud,'' he says. ''I have the highest score in both the pinball and the Space Invaders. My wife beat the high score I had on Space Invaders and I was devastated. I practised for weeks and weeks and I beat her.''

Always fighting. Until he wins.

Photos > Diaspora Vintage Portraits/ People

submitted by Lafcadio Hearn Files on 04.02.2014

Masaaki Noda at the Kwaidan Exhibition

Shimane University
Japan

With Ms Azukizawa who is the curator of this exhibition

Photos > Diaspora Vintage Portraits/ People

submitted by The Daily Examiner, Grafton on 03.02.2014

Calling Australia home was a lucky move for Greek son

Grafton Examiner
27th Jan 2014

MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Spiro and Angelo Notaras look out into one of the newly built smaller cinemas - at the Saraton Theatre. PHOTO: ADAM HOURIGAN

BUSINESSMAN, inventor, banana farmer, cinema owner, fundraiser - Angelo Notaras wears many hats and they all seem to fit comfortably.

His lifetime of achievement has been recognised with the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM), with the notation emphasising his "service to the Greek community, particularly through the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia".

"It's a great honour," Mr Notaras said, adding he had no trouble keeping the award a secret until its official announcement yesterday.

"And being the son of a recent immigrant to Australia in the last 100 or so years it's a double honour."

Born into what is now one of Grafton's most notable families in 1933, Mr Notaras first ran a small cinema in Woolgoolga, then entered the banana industry.

That led him and his younger brother John into the import and manufacture of machinery, including two highly successful products - a minuscule computer ignition for small engines that was named New Invention of the Year on ABC-TV's The Inventors program in 1975, and the top-selling Atom Lawn Edger.

Their business success enabled them to become generous fundraisers and benefactors of many causes.

Grafton has seen the benefit of Mr Notaras's work in the painstaking restoration of the Saraton Theatre, that had been built by his father Tony and uncle Jack in the 1920s, and which he bought with his brothers and his cousin, Spiro.

He described the project as "an extraordinary challenge that I believe has given Grafton something to be really proud of".

"I was up there at Christmas time and was very pleased with how good it looks, and how clean and tidy it was," he said.

The Notaras family originated on the Greek island of Kythera, where many of the population decided to migrate to Australia.

The island's population is just 3000 but in Australia there are more than 60,000 Kytherians and their descendants.

Mr Notaras has worked and contributed funds to establish a comprehensive website, kythera-family.net, and the publication of 13 books about the history of the islanders and the wider Greek population in Australia.

His contributions to the Greek Orthodox Church have included helping to run a fundraising campaign that collected $700,000 to help an alcohol and drug rehabilitation program.

He was awarded the Cross of St Andrew, the Greek Orthodox Church's highest award, in 2003.

Mr Notaras said he was a proud Grafton product, adding there were many outstanding people who had come form the city, including his twin brother Mitchell, an eminent surgeon, who died in 2011.

"I'm very proud that our family name is up there with everyone else in Grafton," he said.

Photos > Diaspora Vintage Portraits/ People

submitted by Barbara Zantiotis on 24.01.2014

Peter and Peter

My two grandfathers - Peter Steve Zantiotis and Peter Con Anastasopoulos. This photo was taken in 1974 when Peter Anastasopoulos visited Australia from Kythera for his first and only time.
Peter Zantiotis passed away in 1981 aged 82 and Peter Anastasopoulos in 1984 aged 78.

Photos > Diaspora Vintage Portraits/ People

submitted by Gaye Hegeman on 17.12.2013

Maudie... Put The Record On

Front Cover photo of Irene Andronicos 1940

Photos > Diaspora Vintage Portraits/ People

submitted by Bill P Cassimatis on 17.12.2013

Peter (Paul) Alex Cassimatis

Born in Karavas, Kythera, Greece on 16th February 1935 to Alexandros and Maria Cassimatis.

In 1949 Peter migrated to Australia. He was 14 years old when he arrived; He started work at Warren in a café.

At age 24 he married Helen Sophios in Sydney. Peter and Helen were blessed with three children, Alex, John and Bill.
Sadly Helen passed away in 1971.

At age 48 Peter married Beryl Coroneos (Palmer) in Brisbane.

Peter lovingly welcomed two daughters-in-law, Voula and Martine.
Peter also celebrated the arrival of six grandchildren, Paul, Ellen, Maree,
Lauren, Peter and Olivia.

Peter sadly passed away on Monday 25th November 2013.

Aged 78

May his memory be eternal.

Peter (Paul) Alex Cassimatis

Never stopped working for his family; a true father, grandfather and
friend to many and loved by all.

In God’s care you rest with above
In our hearts you rest with love
Memories of you are ours to keep
Our words are few but our love is deep.

View / download a copy of the Funeral card here:

Paul Cassimatis Funeral Card.pdf

Details of the Funeral

Thursday 28th November 2013

Officiating
Father Chris Vergas

St Raphael, Nicholas and Irene Greek Orthodox Church
Forbes Street
Liverpool

Commencing at 10.30am

Following the Service the committal will take place at Liverpool Cemetery

Please join us for refreshments at
The Church Hall
Forbes Street
Liverpool

The family of the Late Peter (Paul) Alex Cassimatis sincerely appreciate and thank you for your comforting support and expressions of sympathy.

Photos > Diaspora Vintage Portraits/ People

submitted by Kytherian World Heritage Fund on 05.12.2013

Kristina Williamson. Author of the book, One Year on Kythera

Author: Kristina Williamson

When Published: 2013

Edition: 1st English/Greek Edition, 2013

Publisher: Kytherian World Heritage Fund

Available: Available from the Kytherian World Heritage Fund, and the Kytherian Association in Australia.

George C. Poulos: 02 93888320

Email George Poulos

Email Angelo Notaras

Order more of the 30+ books from the KWHF catalogue by downloading the Order Form, here:

/download/Book_Order_Form.pdf

Kytherian Association of Australia, Book Orders

or Email Administration, Kytherian Association of Australia

In early 2014 will be available in the United States of America, and on Kythera. Contact Kristina Williamson, by email</a> or <a href="mailto:stathatos@arkiotis.com">John Stathatos, by email.

Keep up-to-date with events surrounding the book by visiting, http://1yearonkythera.blogspot.com.au/

Description:
Photographs by Kristina Williamson.
Book design by Lean Koransky and Anthony Scerri
Foreword translated by John Stathatos
All other translations by Despina Christodoulou

ISBN: 978-0-9872473-1-5

“Few young artists have the depth of artistic vision that informs Ms. Williamson’s photography. Her images are complex and sophisticated psychological essays. Her photographic record of island life and society is a study crucial to its history and serves as comparison in determining both the changes and the survival of the island’s social and geographic landscapes.”

Artemis Zenetou, Executive Director, Fulbright Foundation - Greece

The Story

One Year on Kythera is a photographic documentary of the Greek island of Kythera, its inhabitants and its culture. With the help of a J. William Fulbright grant, I was able to spend over one calendar year living and photographing on this beautiful island.

Over the years, Kythera has suffered from massive waves of emigration of its people abroad to the point of near depopulation. These mass migrations caused the population of Kythera to drop from about 13,000 at the beginning of the twentieth century to a current mid-winter population of 2,500, leaving entire villages stripped of younger generations and some completely abandoned. To the remaining Kytherians, these deserted homes and communities stand as visual reminders of a society once unified by tradition now transformed by ambitions of a different life abroad.

One Year on Kythera is a contemporary look into the lives of those who have chosen to remain on the island: what ways they maintain a traditional way of life and in what ways their lifestyles are changing.

I would like to extend my most sincere thanks to the people of Kythera who warmly accepted me into their community, lives, and homes, and to the J. William Fulbright Foundation, whose generous grant made this project possible.

Books and photo prints will be available for purchase via this website and other fine retailers in January 2014. Please sign up for our mailing list to stay up to date with the tour.

Kristina Williamson. Biography

KRISTINA WILLIAMSON is an American artist born in Pen Argyl, Pennsylvania in 1980. In 2003, Williamson graduated from Parsons School of Design in New York with a BFA in photography and in 2004 was awarded a Fulbright grant to photograph life on the Greek island of Kythera. Her work has been showcased in solo exhibitions in Greece, New York, and Washington D.C., as well as various group exhibitions in the U.S. and abroad. Williamson currently lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.

www.kristinawilliamson.com

May I photograph you?

I remember the first time I asked this question. It was in Perlegkianika, a village near where I was living on the Greek island of Kythera. I was walking through on my way home when I saw an old man and woman sitting together by a grey stone wall. They were both wearing similar blue-grey outfits and sitting there so peacefully that they seemed almost a part of the wall itself. I asked if I could photograph them. They nodded. The woman was Stavroula; we were to meet many times after that first encounter, and I photographed her often. Each time I passed through the village she would come out of her house and either take me for a walk to show me something or invite me in to offer some eggs or tomatoes.

Another remarkable woman I met in Perlegkianika was Theochari, of the Blue Garage photograph on the cover of this book. When we first met, I understood only a few words of Greek, but she did not seem to mind. She would invite me into her home, make me lunch, and show me photographs of her family. We somehow arranged that I should drive her to the nearby market on Sundays to sell vegetables from her garden. Seated together on a bench in the square, she gave me a running commentary—of which I understood only fragments—on the goings-on and passersby. At day’s end, we’d pack up and I would be sent home with all the remaining vegetables.

I came to Kythera because I wanted to tell the story of life on the island. Over the years, hope for better opportunities drove many Kytherians to emigrate, leaving behind a dwindling population. I was interested in those who chose to remain on Kythera, and the intermingling of traditional and contemporary cultures reflected in their daily activities, homes, possessions, and surrounding environments.

Inevitably, I would also be telling a story about my experiences on the island. I remember being worried at first. What if I can’t do this project? I had made the decision to come and photograph life on this island, but what if the people concerned did not want to be photographed? I soon discovered that the Kytherians were in fact far more interested in hearing my own story and finding out what brought me to their island. They barely noticed I was shooting in between questions: “What village are you from? What are you doing here? You are not Greek? Why Kythera? Are you married? You are here alone? Will you stay for dinner? You will stay for dinner.”

Although it was my first time in Greece, I remember how strangely familiar the island seemed to me. Certainly Kythera was a big contrast to my life in New York, but it was not all that different from the small town in Pennsylvania where I grew up. Although I did not recognize faces right away, I was recognizing characters which were instantly familiar, perhaps because they reminded me of people from my hometown. Michalis from the gas station near Potamos (who repaired my tires at least once every couple of weeks) shared a disposition with Johnny, my hometown cobbler.

I spent countless hours with Kytherians of every age and degree. That they often spoke few words of English and that my Greek lacked fluency seemed largely inconsequential at the time. I found that, by way of our mutual intrigue and curiosity, I had unwittingly become a part of their community. Such exchanges of interest, generosity, and affection allowed me to indeed capture daily life on the island. Through this work, I had wanted to share the island’s story in photographs, but the Kytherians had larger plans, accepting me warmly into their community, lives, and homes.

Everyone I met on Kythera assured me that I would remain forever: I would be one of those who came to the island on holiday and never left. In a way, they were right. Though I no longer live on Kythera, I still retain a deep love for the island and continue to return. On Kythera, time moves more slowly. There is time to be with friends and family. Time to dance. Time to witness the drama of the tides rolling in, the clouds rolling out, and the intensity of summer reverberating off white-washed walls. These images of an island and its inhabitants are a celebration of a place which changed me and which is itself, however slowly but inevitably, subject to change.

From the National Herald

Fulbright Best and Brightest from the Arts, Science, Research, Law

WILLIAMSON, KRISTINA
Photographer
(Fulbright in 2004/2005, from U.S.)


“I arrived on the Greek island of Kythera in August 2004, a 24-year old American photographer not knowing a single person and not speaking Greek,” writes Brooklyn based Williamson in her statement of purpose about her Fulbright experience.

The Pennsylvania-born Fine Arts graduate of Parsons School of Design embarked on a life-changing experience in Kythera, focusing on the islanders who had remained after the mass immigration exodus from the island in past years – as well as on new arrivals. Her eye and lens captured a lot in her time there – which ultimately was a year and a half.

Kythera Photographic Encounters

Founder/photographer John Stathatos notes that she retained an outsider observer’s perspective, lauding her work with all of Kythera’s inhabitants: “...she was easily accepted by these groups and hence able to record, with discretion but also considerable empathy, both private and public moments of their lives.” Otherworldly color and texture is captured - whether in moody water/landscapes, still portraits of people’s backs or frank fronts (as that of a woman with a stuffed Tweetie bird which hung in her stark bedroom), community action shots (such as an Annunciation Day cross dive) – with both familiar, lived-in elderly bodies and unpredictable children’s gestures alike.

Williamson’s time on the island resulted in solo exhibitions in Kythera, The Greek Consulate in New York, as well as the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in DC. The One Year in Kythera images can be found on her website www.kristinawilliamson.com.

She went on to take part in group exhibits in New York, Miami, Hollywood (CA) as well as a solo exhibit at the Brooklyn’s Insest Gallery. She received the Jeunes Talents 2009 award, where emerging U.S. photographers photograph France.

Photos > Diaspora Vintage Portraits/ People

submitted by George Poulos on 14.11.2013

Stephen Trifyllis. Photographer extraordinaire

Stephen in a typical pose.

His photography is exceptional, and visits to Kythera are not the same without him being present on the island.

Keep snapping Stephen.

Photos > Diaspora Vintage Portraits/ People

submitted by Kytherian Obituaries on 10.11.2013

Peter George (Tzortzopoulos)

EULOGY PETER GEORGE – born Karava, Kythira 8 Dec 1934

Peter George, – an Australian Greek more than a Greek Australian.
He loved Australia and marvelled at its beauty.

To acknowledge the blessings and opportunity this great country bestowed upon him as a 15 year old immigrant boy, survivor of the devastation of the Great Depression and World War 2, the adult Peter contributed time serving on a number of community organisations.
These included the Merriwa Apex Club; Merriwa and Dubbo Lions Clubs ; Merriwa Volunteer Rescue Squad; Board member of Merriwa District Hospital; Dubbo Water Watch Group; Orana Law and Order Forum and the Dubbo City Chamber of Commerce and the occasional drink at the Merriwa RSL after hours.

His greatest pleasure to community was his service and dedication to his faith and this very Church, Our Lady Panagia Myrtidiotissa. The spiritual connection for Peter was strong. For years he stood in the Psaltiri and chanted during Divine Liturgy. He strove to understand his faith, and for enlightenment undertook studies of Modern and Ancient Greek to better interpret the scriptures as they were written over the past 2000 years.

Peter stayed connected to his beloved island home Kythira, especially after his retirement, returning on a pilgrimage every year. This was eclipsed, however, by the trip to Jerusalem and the Holy Lands. Filled with Spiritual energy, he overcame failing health, to proudly climb all the steps and walk the path of Christ without getting tired. It was a personal milestone and fulfilment of a life- long ambition.

Peter was not your typical Greek migrant. He assimilated seamlessly into Australian society, undertook study to become fluent in English and progressed in the business world. Even though he and his wife Bess worked 7 days a week for over 20 years in the famous Peter George’s Merriwa Café, they always found time for family Sunday excursions and an annual week long holiday at Nelson Bay.

With the move to Dubbo, Peter George built a new life. His greatest success was going to work and loving it. Peter’s professional ambition since his Nyngan days in the 1950’s was to own a Gun Shop in Dubbo. Carrington Firearms was an opportunity to finally join his love of shooting and fishing, emerging as a highly respected professional in a highly competitive industry.

On a more personal level:
His best mate became his brother-in-law, Tony Panaretos.
His greatest sense of duty was to his mother, Kirani and sister Eleni.
His greatest heartbreak was when his nephew, Tony Maselos, died from leukaemia
His greatest privilege was baptising his 3 Godchildren.
His greatest challenge was raising 3 strong willed daughters. Yet he gained the sons he never had leading to….
His greatest pride - his 7 grandchildren! They gave him the incentive and that extra will to live longer. In later years he would express his love and pride to anyone and everyone who would listen!
Above all else his greatest passion was that for his wife and soul mate, Bess. Together they were an inseparable team; united by marriage; working side-by-side and genuinely devoted to each other.

And now we are gathered here to honour him, applaud him and thank him for the time he walked among us and made our lives all the richer for having known him.

You will be greatly missed Peter George. May you rest in peace.

Photos > Diaspora Vintage Portraits/ People

submitted by Kytherian Book Review on 30.10.2013

Dr Catherine Itsiopoulos, author of The Mediterranean Diet

When Published: 2013

Publisher: Pan Macmillan Australia

Available: All good book shops

Description: Paperback. 224 page/s.

ISBN: 9781742610825

RRP $34.99

Review at goodfood

A wealth of good health

Date October 29, 2013

Carla Grossetti


Stick to the periphery of the supermarket and you will find all you need to embrace the Mediterranean diet, as Carla Grossetti writes.

Taste of the Mediterranean

None of the ingredients featured in Dr Catherine Itsiopoulos's The Mediterranean Diet have scary chemical names or need numeric identification.

Instead, the core components of the Mediterranean diet are olive oil, leafy greens, eggs, fruit and nuts, legumes, fermented dairy products, seafood, a small amount of red meat and a minuscule amount of sugar.

As head of the department and associate professor in dietetics and human nutrition at LaTrobe University, Itsiopoulos's book, published in August, is a happy nod to both her Greek heritage and more than two decades of dedicated research into the Mediterranean diet.

Dr Catherine Itsiopoulos is dedicated to the Mediterranean diet:

"Most of the recipes used in the book were provided by either my mum or my mum-in-law," says Itsiopoulos, who, as well as being a passionate home cook, has more than 25 years of clinical and academic nutrition experience.

"I've grown up on this diet but it wasn't until I graduated from dietetics that I looked at this way of eating from a research perspective. Research conducted over the past 60 years has proven the diet can promote weight loss, aid cancer recovery, slow Alzheimer's, prevent diabetes, heart disease and promote longevity," says Itsiopoulos, whose parents migrated to Australia from Greece in the 1960s.

Itsiopoulos who, at 170cm, has weighed between 58 and 62 kilograms all her adult life and has a BMI of 21, is a walking advertisement for the diet.

The 50-year-old believes it's the ubiquitous olive oil that makes the Mediterranean diet more satisfying than a low-fat diet and therefore easier to adhere to. As well as a traditional menu, there is a weight-loss menu with a daily kilojoule intake of 7000 kilojoules (which includes dishes high in fibre, vitamin C and folate and low in kilojoules) and a healthy menu for chronic disease prevention.

"People do not eat excess calories on this diet because that drizzle of extra virgin olive oil makes it so satisfying. It's a lifestyle diet. Yes, it works because it's palatable but it also works because it encourages you to slow down and eat in a social environment. It's not a quick fix. It's a way of life," she says.

A review article published this year, in the highly respected New England Journal of Medicine, entitled ''Prevencion con Dieta Mediterranea'' (PREDIMED) ranked a Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra virgin olive oil or nuts as the model most likely to provide protection against coronary heart disease.

The April edition reported the results of the study, which surveyed 7447 people aged 55 to 80 - some of whom were at high cardiovascular risk - over 4.8 years:

"Salient components of the Mediterranean diet reportedly associated with better survival include moderate consumption of ethanol [mostly from wine], low consumption of meat and high consumption of vegetables, fruits, nuts, legumes, fish, and olive oil."

While Itsiopoulos concedes many people living in the countries that surround the Mediterranean have moved away from healthy eating patterns, her own research was based on the traditional timeworn peasant-style diet. Her major research interest lies in the positive effects of this diet in a society that faces a rising incidence of lifestyle-related diseases.

"The diet that is the most-often prescribed diet in the world and the one that is most often quoted in scientific studies is the Cretan-Mediterranean diet that originated from the island of Crete following World War II. Research has found that people eating this diet had almost no traces of heart disease," says Itsiopoulos, who lives in the Melbourne suburb of Moonee Ponds with her Greek-Australian husband Savvas Koutsis and teenage daughters Tiana and Vivienne.

Itsiopoulos says research backed by science has also shown that, despite being high in fat, the Mediterranean diet - which was heritage-listed by UNESCO in 2010 - uses olive oil rather than butter, which does not necessarily lead to weight gain.

"The one key ingredient that binds all the diets of the Mediterranean is olive oil, which is well known for its role in the prevention of heart disease.

''There's also less meat, more veg," says Itsiopoulos, whose findings have been published in journals such as Nutrition, Metabolism and Cardiovascular Diseases and the Journal of Hepatology.

"Although the diet is high in fat, it's also high in fibre, with almost a kilogram of fresh fruit and vegetables per day, small portions of lean meat, a regular intake of fish and snacks of dried fruit, nuts and yoghurt," she says.

Traditional Greek-Mediterranean recipes featured in the book include: favas santorinis (split pea dip), keftedakia (little meatballs), dolmathakia (vegetarian-stuffed vineleaves) and fassoulada (white bean soup). Itsiopoulous has also modified many of the heavier mains, such as moussaka, to feature grilled vegetables over meat as the "heroes of the dish".

"Making eating a pleasure is one of the cornerstones of the diet. You don't feel like you are missing out," she says.

The Mediterranean Diet (published by Pan Macmillan Australia, RRP $34.99).

Author Information:

Catherine Itsiopoulos is the Head of Department and Associate Professor in Dietetics and Human Nutrition at LaTrobe University. Catherine has more than 25 years of clinical, academic and project management experience. Recent positions Catherine has held include Associate Professor and Head of Discipline Nutrition and Dietetics at the University of Canberra, Accreditation, Recognition and Education Services Manager with the Dieticians' Association of Australia and Fellow of the Centre of Clinical Research Excellence in Clinical Science in Diabetes at the University of Melbourne.

Photos > Diaspora Vintage Portraits/ People

submitted by Kytherian Biographies Project on 31.10.2013

Athena (Gloria) White. Grandaughter of Michael De Diar

Recently received from Catherine Crisp who lives in Hervey Bay in Queensland.

"A great friend of mine recently celebrated her 96th birthday.

Athena (Gloria) White is Michael De DIar's grandaughter - she has been overwhelmed by the information I have downloaded about him, from this site, for her.

She is a remarkable woman, has enjoyed life to the fullest and has only in the past 6 weeks moved into an aged care facility having lived independently, in her own home, up until now.

I want to thank you for the effort you have put into researching and compiling this site, it has answered many questions and provided enormous enjoyment to a delightful, elderly woman".

Best regards

Catherine Crisp

Another reminiscence:

I recall her telling me that her grandfather would collect her, and her siblings Max and Beavan, from St Peter's school in Adelaide in a very flash car and that she felt so proud of him....and the car probably!!

Photos > Diaspora Vintage Portraits/ People

submitted by Kytherian Obituaries on 26.10.2013

Evangelia Poulos (nee) Coroneos

Evangelia’s Story

View / Download a .pdf version of this Obituary, here:

Angela Poulos' Story.pdf

Evangelia Poulos (nee Coroneos) was born on 23 April 1928 on the Greek island of Kythera, the third child of a poor peasant family of seven. Her parents Triantafilos and Georgia lived traditionally off the land raising the family; Theodosios, Stamatoula, Evangalia, Elene, Nikos, Manoli and Stavroula. Kythera is the last of the seven Ioanian islands located under the Peloponnese and is famous for being the birthplace of Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love & beauty. It is an island steeped in history and charm. It has seen ancient settlements and temples to the gods, is mentioned in Homer’s Iliad, traders regularly passed and sought its produce including the molluscs found off its waters which yielded purple dye used by ancient royalty. Christianity came to its shores in the fourth century and the island now prides itself on having 30 churches, 300 chapels, 30 cemetery churches, and 4 monasteries! Put together with the fact that Kythera over the ages has been raided by pirates, became a Venetian possession, was seized by the Turkish, French, Russians and British and was occupied by both the Italians and the Germans during World War II, Angela grew up in the shadows of history.

Her life on the island was hard and with her family, they worked various plots of land to make ends meet. Her father, was a long-standing the mayor of Karava, a picturesque village known for its local springs and views, as its farmlands are terraced. Evangelia’s education only lasted until 5th class, having to work the fields with her brothers and sisters. One time she fell from a donkey and with her foot stuck in the stirrups, was dragged for some distance before being freed. During the war, when Evangelia was 15 years old, tragedy struck when her mother died in childbirth. The war years were devastating for Greece. The occupying forces took all the produce for their war effort and left the locals to starve. Many people died from lack of food and it always amazed Evangelia when she first came to Australia and worked in a café how the customers left food on their plates! By the end of the war, with the island devastated, many Kytherians left for lands of opportunity.

Kythera has been called “Kangaroo” island as so many of its sons and daughters ended up coming in the years of mass immigration to Australia. Evangelia flew to Australia in 1949 due to her Aunty, who provided money for her airfare. The airfare was a whopping £300 and the journey took several days stopping at various airports along the way. Evangelia described how the passengers would have to sit around and hold a bar when they took off and landed; no seatbelts then!

In her youth, many young men could see that Evangelia was touched by Aphrodite; she had a warm smile, long wavy locks of brown hair and beautiful brown eyes. She came to marry Con Poulos when she was 23 years old in 1951. He also came from Karava – her hometown and as a merchant seaman, had got off the boat in Adelaide in 1949 to look up his brothers who were already in country NSW. Many Greeks set up small businesses in country areas and the newlyweds settled in Gilgandra, in central western New South Wales, and raised a family. Con ran a mixed business known for his fresh fruit and vegetables, his range of milkshakes and fresh fruit juices. Evangelia had five children; George, Olympia, Peter, Phillip and Eric. Sadly, her darling daughter, Olympia, died of pneumonia when only six months old. She had taken her to the doctor on several occasions and one can only speculate that the language barrier may have been a factor in not preventing her daughter’s death. She had once said about losing her daughter: “The way I felt was that she belonged to God and God had taken her back. They say that babies are like angels and she was an angel called back by God. So many tears I cried for both my beautiful daughter and for my mother.”

Across the road from where she lived in Gilgandra, the town built on farming from wheat and sheep, with its weather of extremes, Evangelia befriended a woman called Lorna who also experienced tragedy. Lorna’s father had been burnt to death in a bushfire. She had helped pull his charred remains out of the dam. They remained friends for life and always stayed in touch even when eventually both left Gilgandra to live elsewhere.

Family meant everything to Evangelia. She loved all her children and her daughters-in-law; Lorraine, Lyn and Elizabeth and loved to see them, especially when the grandchildren came along. Evangelia has 7 grandchildren; Angelique, Dean, Gabriella, Nicholas, Anna, Isabella and Sebastian, and particularly loved to spoil them with gifts as they were growing up. Evangelia also loved to cook and to garden. She had quite a green thumb growing a wide range of flowers including roses, gladiolas, dahlias, zinnias, pansies and anything that was colourful. Often people would call in and ask for flowers from her garden. Her hosting skills were legendary, as when people arrived unexpectedly, she could go to the fridge and whip up a three course meal in no time. She loved going to church and the closest Greek Orthodox Church to Gilgandra was in Dubbo and was called "The Lady of Myrtles" (Panagia Myrtidiotissa) – named after a monastery on Kythera. Evangelia kept many icons in the Orthodox tradition as they are reminders of her underlying faith. Evangelia was Godmother to two lovely girls, her niece Georgia and Sophie from Dubbo. At Christmas and Easter she would often host her brothers' and sisters’ families, cooking many delightful dishes. As it worked out, over the years, her three sisters and her three brothers all came to Australia, so she had plenty of family around her. In 1972, with the children growing up, Evangelia and Con came to Sydney after Con sold the business. There would be more opportunities for the children in “the big smoke”. She lived in Greystanes all her years in Sydney enjoying the area and making lots of friends, especially at the local shops and clubs, until she went into care.

Evangelia also loved to travel. When her eldest son George was 20 he had gone to New Zealand and worked in various places but was not at a fixed address. Evangelia came home with a 21st birthday cake and an air ticket, and announced to the rest of the family that she was going over to celebrate his impending birthday. Arriving in Auckland, she managed to get onto the front page of the Auckland Star and they were reunited in time to celebrate George’s birthday. Evangelia on several occasions went back to Greece to visit, doing a cruise and visiting several of the islands, including Tinos, an island loved due to its very special Cathedral. On another trip she accompanied her niece to China and came back with many presents for the family.

Her sense of humour and social nature were infectious and often she would have people breaking into fits of laughter with her stories. Evangelia spent the last several years of her life at Ashburn House in Gladesville where the staff lovingly cared for her. She died peacefully on 19 October 2013.


As told by her son Eric Poulos

Photos > Diaspora Vintage Portraits/ People

submitted by Kytherian Biographies Project on 21.10.2013

Helen Zerfos - one of "the faces of Sutherland Shire"

In 2006, the Sutherland Shire (in Sydney) celebrated its centenary. To mark the occasion, many events were planned. The first of these showcased one hundred people who had “made an important contribution to the Shire over the one hundred years and who have had a significant impact on the lives of others.” Helen, a resident for many years, was among the chosen one hundred. “The Faces of the Shire” was displayed on specially produced billboards in a roving exhibition which toured the Shire throughout the year.

Helen Zerefos OAm

Biographical notes by
John Love
Historian and Theatre Consultant
Kurrajong Heights NSW Australia

Helen Zerefos is a coloratura soprano of rare charm and beauty whose versatility spans the widest gamut of show business performance. From the stage to television to nightclubs, concerts and recordings, her talents have been applauded and revered.

It is Helen’s wide vocal range that makes this all possible with an extraordinary repertoire of music that is evident in her recordings which encompass material from the technical brilliance of Mozart’s “Alleluja” to the gentle country song, “When I Dream.” She is a unique talent in the world of entertainment, combining the experience and dignity of the great classics through to the better contemporary music, imbuing all this with her sparkling personality.

Helen was born in Scone, New South Wales, Australia, of Greek parents. Both of her parents were born in Greece, her father, Paul Zerefos, came from Neapolis Vion, Laconia and her mother, Katina Andronicos Zerefos from Avlemonas, Kythera.

From an early age, Helen studied piano and showed vocal promise for an operatic career. She was Dux of her school and had aspirations towards medicine and architecture. Although proud of her musical ability, her parents were very disappointed when she chose a theatrical career. Her mother insisted she learn something practical to fall back on if necessary, so Helen gained a diploma in fashion and now designs the fabulous gowns which have become legendary for her stage appearances.

At a time when musical extravaganzas were tops on television, she was chosen to be a founding member of the marvellous singing and dancing group the “Revue 20” on the ATN Channel 7 network. The Revue 20 featured weekly on the top national TV variety show, “Revue 61” and then “Revue 62,” which swept the ratings and went to air Sunday nights at 8pm. Brilliant Canadian Peter MacFarlane, from MCA (Music Corporation of America) was brought to Australia as producer - director of “Revue 61” and “Revue 62.” These shows, under the iron fist and creative genius of Peter MacFarlane were never equalled for excellence on Australian television and were hosted by the incomparable Digby Wolfe.

The invaluable experience of singing and dancing on the top show in the country under the watchful eye of this great director was the best possible start to a future career. The Revue 20 became the backbone of all major shows produced by Channel 7. Before Peter MacFarlane left after eighteen months in Australia, he took Helen and tenor John Serge aside and advised them that to further their careers, they must leave Australia and offered to help by getting them onto the US television scene via Canada.

Sadly, soon after, Peter MacFarlane drowned in Canada while filming a documentary. John Serge went to England and the continent, where he had an illustrious career in opera. Helen stayed in Australia.

Emerging from three fabulous years at Channel 7, Helen went on to appear in other series, including a year with Bobby Limb’s “Sound of Music” at TCN Channel 9. During this time, Helen won the prestigious Miller’s, BMC (British Motor Corporation), Qantas Search for a Star Quest. The prizes included first class Qantas travel around the world, a car and singing contracts.

During 1965, Helen and brother Bill Zerefos embarked on the world trip she had won. After five months of many wonderful highlights, one of which was meeting Elvis Presley at Paramount Studios in Hollywood, they returned home.

There were many appearances on all major TV shows too numerous to name. Helen appeared in
over 600 television shows.

In 1967 after starring in theatre for American producer Bret Adams in “The Music Man” with Australian showbiz legend, Ted Hamilton, plus “The King and I,” Bret urged her to go to the United States as he felt she was a natural for the Broadway stage. However, an offer from the Channel 10 network to star in the television series, “ Barry Crocker’s Say It With Music” was accepted, which kept Helen in Australia. This very happy experience lasted for nearly three years.

Although there were offers of overseas engagements, her marriage in 1971 to leading private investigator, Raymond Millanta and “strong family commitments,” forced her to dispel any thoughts of working overseas.

Among Helen’s other stage shows were starring roles in: “Song of Norway,” “Showboat,” “Hooray for Hollywood,” “Evening in Paris,” “From Russia With Love,” “Aspects of Love” at the Old Tote Theatre, “Roman Holiday,” “Europe by Night,” and “The Andrew Lloyd Webber Song Book”

Helen’s father, Paul Zerefos, died suddenly in 1981. Her mother Katina never recovered from that shock and soon began to suffer from Alzheimer’s Disease.

1981 – 1982 saw Helen compering the television show, “Let’s Go Greek Endaxi,” for the Channel 10 network.

On her travels over the years, Helen had amassed a large and magnificent collection of beautiful fabrics which were richly embroidered and jewelled. Realising there was more than she could ever possibly wear herself, she decided to utilise her collection of fabrics and her fashion diploma skills and create her own fashion label of special occasion wear. So, in 1984, her label “Helen Zerefos Special Occasion,” was launched with her good friend, Eileen Herbert.

After a very successful year of designing and producing special occasion wear accompanied by the excitement of fashion parades, Helen decided that the rag trade was not worth the temperamental tantrums and hassles of some of those associated with that industry. She decided to devote her talents to the relative sanity of show business and the joy of performing beautiful music.

In the meantime, her beloved mother Katina had deteriorated quickly to such a degree that she was helpless and needed constant attention. Helen was her primary carer for ten years.

In 1986 Helen appeared in the Royal Gala Concert at the Sydney Entertainment Centre for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth and HRH Prince Philip – Helen was so sad that her mother was not able to comprehend and be present at such an auspicious occasion.

The situation of caring for her dear mother, who passed away in 1992, had caused Helen to decline numerous concert offers from overseas during those years. Soon after her mother passed away, her husband, Raymond, was diagnosed with cancer which further curtailed any thoughts of taking any of the overseas engagements offered, as she continued her role of primary carer.

Helen was awarded an OAM (a Medal in the Order of Australia) in 1996, in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List, for her services to charity and fund raising for Alzheimer’s research. Helen has supported research into Alzheimer’s disease for many years having nursed her mother Katina for ten years and knowing full well the horrors of that dreaded illness.

Helen supports many causes and is Patron of Professor Tony Broe’s Ageing Research Centre at NeuroScience Research Australia in Randwick (Sydney) where research into Alzheimer’s and Parkinsons disease is conducted. Helen has supported Professor Broe’s research for over twenty years with fundraising concerts, sale of her CDs, talks to community groups (Rotary, Lions, View, Probus Clubs etc) and generally raising awareness through her work. For further information telephone Mrs Sandra Forster, Executive Officer of the Ageing Research Centre, at Prince of Wales Hospital, Randwick, Sydney, on (02) 9382 4259 or email: Sandra Forster

Amidst her busy schedule, Helen makes appearances at Mike Walsh’s Hayden Orpheum Picture Palace at Cremorne, Sydney, one of the most exquisitely restored theatres in the world, working with world acclaimed theatre organist, Maestro Neil Jensen, at the Wurlitzer organ.

In the year 2000, Helen represented Australia in a concert at the Shanghai Grand Opera Theatre in Shanghai, China, celebrating its opening. The concert was a live telecast to two billion people!

Helen’s husband of 31 years, Raymond Millanta, passed away in 2002 after a lengthy debilitating illness – again Helen had been the primary carer. In all, Helen was primary carer for members of her family for twenty years.

Helen was devastated by the loss of her beloved younger sister Bubsie (Florence) who passed away with breast cancer in May 2004.

On 4 June 2004, Helen was selected to be a torchbearer in Sydney in the ATHENS 2004 OLYMPIC TORCH RELAY. She was nominated by her dear friend, Sandra Forster, of the Ageing Research Centre, Prince of Wales Hospital. Helen was honoured to be representing Australia for a brief moment on the world stage and also thrilled to be celebrating her Greek heritage.

Her busy schedule also included an engagement to perform two classical concerts on the Japanese luxury liner, “Pacific Venus,” while cruising the Pacific in 2005. (There were two typhoons in the area at the time.)

In 2006, the Sutherland Shire (in Sydney) celebrated its centenary. To mark the occasion, many events were planned. The first of these showcased one hundred people who had “made an important contribution to the Shire over the one hundred years and who have had a significant impact on the lives of others.” Helen, a resident for many years, was among the chosen one hundred. “The Faces of the Shire” was displayed on specially produced billboards in a roving exhibition which toured the Shire throughout the year.

In 2007, at the 31st Australian Entertainment “Mo” Awards, Helen was presented with a “Mo” Award for the best Classical and Opera Performer.

In 2009, at the 33 rd Australian Entertainment “Mo” Awards, Helen was presented with the John Campbell Fellowship Award.

3rd September 2011 the Sutherland Shire Council honoured Helen with a 50th anniversary (as a professional singer) tribute concert at the Sutherland Entertainment Centre, where she was accompanied by the Sutherland Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Sven Libaek.

Between her professional singing engagements, Helen continues to be a sought after speaker to service groups raising awareness for Alzheimer research.

Helen has recorded many times and her three available CD’s are: “Million Dollar Melodies” accompanied by the Sydney International Orchestra conducted by Maestro Tommy Tycho AM, MBE. “Love and Music” accompanied by Maestro Robert Goode at the Sydney Town Hall Grand Organ “Friends for Life” accompanied and orchestrated by Maestro Steven Isoardi

--- John Love