One hundred and seventeen years ago, 57 Greeks who were living in Melbourne decided to create the Greek Community of Melbourne, without knowing that it would later become one of the largest and most historical Greek Diaspora organizations in Australia.
Next month, the Greek Community will hold the opening ceremony of a 15-storey building that houses the Greek Cultural Center and various other Greek organizations.
“We still have available space for rent. Anyone who is interested, should contact us,” said the President of the Community Vasilis Papastergiadis, who also expressed his satisfaction that the building was completed in time, without going off budget.
The Greek Community of Melbourne was founded in 1897. It is older than the Australian Confederation and this year will celebrate its 117th anniversary. The inaugural meeting of the Community took place on August 22, 1897.
However, it is still unknown who were the first Greeks who stepped foot in Australia. According to some Australian newspapers from 1820, the first Greeks arrived in Sydney in 1803! Other publications mention that Greeks arrived in Australia a little later, between 1803 and 1820.
The stories of these Greeks are detailed in the book “Australians and Greeks” by Hugh Gilchrist, which was released in 1992. Gilchrist was a former Australian diplomat and author who has written three volumes of more than 400 pages each, on the relations between Australians and Greeks.
However, Hugh Gilchrist notes that he was not able to confirm many of the stories regarding the arrival of the first Greeks in Australia. According to him, the first confirmed arrival of Greeks took place in August 1829.