A large crowd of Greek Australians gathered at Sydney’s suburb of Marrickville on Saturday to celebrate the official renaming of a precinct to “Little Greece”.
The ceremony at the Alex Trevallion Plaza included the unveiling of the commissioned public artwork Hestia’s Migration. Greek music and dancing featuring MC Alex Lykos, Tassos Bouzouki and the St Nicholas Church Greek Dancing Group providing entertainment.
A procession followed that made its way to The Great Club where a free all-ages concert by the Hellenic Art Theatre and Iho Nyx Band took place.
Marrickville has long been the center of Australia’s thriving Greek community. Honoring the district’s distinct culture and history, including the rich stories of generations of Greek immigrants, Inner West council members voted on the name change in February 2021.
Inner West Mayor Darcy Byrne heralded the new name, stating that it honors the area’s “migrant heritage” and helps “to build our multicultural future.”
“To all the Greek Australians who have built Marrickville into one of the best places on earth, we say simply, Efharisto,” Byrne continued.
Marrickville rich in Greek heritage
Marrickville is lined with traditional Greek shops, bakeries, tavernas, and even kafeneia, giving off the feeling that the suburb was plucked out of Greece and placed near Sydney.
In fact, visitors to the district will likely hear Greek spoken all around them.
In April, council members proposed either “Little Athens” or “Little Greece” as a new name for the area.
However, they decided that “Little Greece” best embodied the district’s history and decided on that name instead.
The proposal followed the trend of other Sydney suburbs that embraced name changes to honor their immigrant histories, such as “Little Portugal” and “Little Italy” for central Petersham and Leichhardt, respectively.
Greek-Australians in Sydney
The latest national census showed that up to 400,000 Australians have Greek ancestry, and almost half of them live in Melbourne.
Historian Nick Doumanis from the University of New South Wales told SBS news that what many people don’t realize is that Sydney had the largest Greek community at the beginning of the last century.
Melbourne outdid it only after World War II.
“Most Greek-Australians came here after the Second World War with very little, hardly anything in their suitcases, and decided they would make a living here to try and find security and build a life. And they made the most with what Australia offered them,” Professor Doumanis told SBS.