Eleni Confos, the oldest Greek in Australia and the most senior Australian Castellorizian, has passed away peacefully at the age of 109, the Board of Directors of the Castellorizian Association of NSW announced on Sunday night.
“The Board of Directors of the Castellorizian Association of NSW on behalf of her daughter Rose Adgemis and her extended family, wish to inform the community of the passing of our most senior Australian Castellorizian, Eleni Confos. Eleni passed away peacefully at the age of 109.5 years. May her memory be eternal,” the Association said on Facebook.
The Sydney-based woman is believed to be the “oldest known” person of Castellorizian descend, but the Greek Australian community as a whole. She was also reportedly “the 10th oldest person in Australia”.
Confos migrated from Castellorizo to Australia in 1931, the first of seven siblings. Being the family’s eldest daughter, she played a role in their upbringing but also helped them make their way to Australia after her.
A true matriarch, she has been a mother figure not only to her own children, but also her nieces and nephews, as they all lived in nearby streets in Kingsford.
Being wheelchair-bound, she was taken to Rosebay nursing home in 2014, where she could have 24-hour care. That’s where she celebrated her 109th birthday in January 2021.
Oldest Greek and waves of Greek immigration to Australia
The first Castellorizian settled in Australia in the late 19th century and originally sought employment opportunities where there was work. In the early days there were two points of arrival, Fremantle in Western Australia and Darwin in the Northern Territory.
Those who alighted in Darwin either settled there or moved across to Wyndham in Western Australia to work or to the Innisfail District in North Queensland where there was work and other families had settled there.
By the early 20th century a number of families had established themselves in Perth and in 1912 the first Castelloroaian Corporation was established in Perth.
Following the First World War other families from Castellorizo arrived in Australia, settling in Perth with some moving to South Australia to work in the smelters at Port Pirie and subsequently settling in Adelaide, some settled in North Queensland and others came to Sydney and some went to Melbourne.
In 1924, an organizing Committee was elected to establish the Castellorizian Association and a Constitution Committee was appointed to draft a Constitution.
The end of World War II brought a further wave of immigration to Australia including a large number from Castellorizo who had been left homeless as a result of the catastrophic damage to the Island during that war.
Since its opening in October 1973, the Castellorizian Club has been a landmark institution particularly amongst a younger generation of Australian Greek who were born here and abroad who participated in and enjoyed many of the Club’s activities services and amenities.
Over the years the Club has supported many charitable institutions and the work of the Castellorizian Club Ladies Committee has been legendary for their charitable endeavors.
The Ladies Committee recognized a need for and assisted and supported the establishment of the Castellorizian Nursing Home which is a well respected Aged Care Facility at Kensington serving the needs of the community.