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Greek Australian

Greek Australians
George Miller
George Calombaris
Total population
99,939 (by birth, 2011),
378,270 (by ancestry, 2011)[1]
600,000700,000 (estimate)[2]
Regions with significant populations
Victoria · New South Wales · South Australia · Queensland
Australian English · Greek
Predominantly Eastern Orthodoxy
Related ethnic groups
Cypriot Australians · Other Greek diaspora groups

Greek Australians (Greek: Ελληνοαυστραλοί) are Australian citizens either fully or partially of Greek descent or Greece-born people who reside in Australia. The 2011 census recorded 378,270 people of Greek ancestry, and 99,939 born in Greece,[1] making Australia home to one of the largest Greek communities in the world. Greeks are the seventh largest ethnic group in Australia, after those who declared their ancestry simply as "Australian". In the 2006 census, 365,147 people reported to have Greek ancestry, either exclusively or in combination with another ethnic group.[3] Also, the 2006 census recorded 125,849 people born in Greece and 21,149 born in Cyprus (many of whom are Greek Cypriots).

Greek immigration to Australia has been one of the most important migratory flows in the history of Australia, especially after World War II. As of 2015, the flow of migrants from Greece has not stopped but has increased due to the economic crisis in the Hellenic country,[4] with Australia as one of the main destinations for emigrating, mainly Melbourne where the Greek Australian community is stronger.[5]


  • History 1
    • Early Greek immigration 1.1
    • 20th century Greek Immigration to Australia 1.2
    • 21st century Greek Immigration to Australia 1.3
  • Demographics 2
    • Greeks by state or territory 2.1
  • Culture 3
    • Religion 3.1
    • Greek language 3.2
  • Notable individuals 4
    • Academic 4.1
    • Art and design 4.2
    • Business 4.3
    • Fashion 4.4
    • Film, theatre and television 4.5
    • Journalism 4.6
    • Justice 4.7
    • Music 4.8
    • Politics 4.9
    • Religion 4.10
    • Science and technology 4.11
    • Sport 4.12
      • Australian Rules Football 4.12.1
      • Boxing and Kickboxing 4.12.2
      • Cricket 4.12.3
      • Football (Soccer) 4.12.4
      • Martial Arts 4.12.5
      • Rugby League 4.12.6
      • Sailing 4.12.7
      • Shooting 4.12.8
      • Skiing 4.12.9
      • Tennis 4.12.10
      • Wrestling 4.12.11
    • Writing 4.13
  • See also 5
  • Citations 6
  • Bibliography 7
  • External links 8


Early Greek immigration

Greek immigration to Australia began in the early colonial period in the 19th century. The first known Greeks arrived in 1829.[6] These Greeks were seven sailors convicted of piracy by a British naval court and were sentenced to transportation to New South Wales. Though eventually pardoned, two of those seven Greeks stayed and settled in the country. They settled on the Monaro Plains in Southern New South Wales. Their names were Andronicas and Jigger Bulgaris. Ando went back to Greece a single man but Jigger stayed and Married a local woman from the Tinderry ranges near Michelago and fathered many children. Jigger was buried at Nimmitabel Pioneer Cemetery Hellenic Club of Canberra laid a commemorative piece of marble over his resting place around 2000. The first known free Greek migrant to Australia was Katerina Georgia Plessos (1809–1907),[7] who arrived in Sydney with her husband Major James Crummer in 1835. They married in 1827 on the island of Kalamos where Crummer, the island's commandant met the young refugee from the Greek independence wars. She is thought to be one of the last people to speak to Lord Byron. They lived in Sydney, Newcastle and Port Macquarie where she is buried. They had 11 children.[8] The first wave of free Hellenic migrants commenced in the 1850s and continued through the end of the 19th century, prompted in part by the recent discovery of gold in the country.[9] A young Greek immigrant born in Lemnos, Greece named Georgios Tramountanas (1822 – 29 January 1911) and anglicised as George North in 1858, was the first settler of Greek origin in South Australia in 1842. The Greek community of South Australia regards North (Tramountanas) as their Pioneering Grandfather. In 1901, the year of federation, the Australian census recorded 878 native Greeks that were born there (In Greece), now living in Australia. Many of these Greeks were owners of or were employed in shops and restaurants. Some were also cane-cutters in Queensland.

20th century Greek Immigration to Australia

From the last decade of the 19th century until WWI the number of Greeks Immigrating to Australia increased steadily and Hellenic communities were reasonably well established in Melbourne and Sydney at this time. The Greek language press had begun in Australia and in 1913, Australia had the first Greek weekly newspaper that was published in Melbourne. During WWI Greece remained neutral, eventually joining the side of the Allies. In 1916 the Australian government responded to this by placing a special prohibition on the entry of Greeks and Maltese people to Australia that was not lifted until 1920. There were a number of anti-Greek outbursts as a result of the neutrality stance by Greece, often instigated by Australian soldiers on leave. During these outbursts Greek shops or cafes were badly damaged or destroyed, with the worst rioting occurring in Kalgoorlie and Boulder.

During the interwar period, the number of Greeks migrating to Australia increased substantially. Some Greeks who settled in Australia were expelled from Asia Minor after the Greek military defeat by Turkey in 1922 while other Greeks sought entry after the USA established restrictive immigration quotas in the early 1920s. From 1924 until 1936 a series of regulations operating in Australia severely restricted the number of Greeks permitted to immigrate to and settle in Australia.

Greece entered WWII with the Allies and was invaded by German and Italian forces who remained in Greece until 1944. When troops withdrew a struggle broke out between pro and anti-communist factions which resulted in civil war between 1946 and 1949, ending with the defeat of the communists.

The Greek government encouraged post-war migration as a way of solving poverty and unemployment problems, with the most favoured destination being West Germany although large numbers also went to Australia and Canada. Post WWII in the late 1940s, 1950s and 1960s, Greeks were among one of the main European races picked by the Australian government's "Populate or perish" immigration scheme and due to this, thousands of Greeks migrated to Australia with just one purpose and that was to gain a better life and future for themselves and their families. The main destinations where these "Hellenes" immigrated were to cities such as Melbourne, Sydney and Adelaide. During these decades, the Greeks started making an impact in the country like never before, they were not only still establishing their own restaurants, this time they were also establishing their own Hellenic Community Clubs and Greek-Australian Soccer clubs. Greeks along with Italians, Croatians, Maltese, Serbians, Jews, Hungarians, Czechs etc. really made a stamp on Australian sport in general by forming some of the greatest and most successful Association football clubs that Australian football has ever had and in the Greek communities case, the most successful Australian clubs with Greek heritage and culture are the inventions of South Melbourne Hellas (South Melbourne FC) founded in 1959, Pan-Hellenic (Sydney Olympic FC) founded in 1957 and West Adelaide Hellas (West Adelaide SC) founded in 1962. All three clubs were founded by Greek immigrants that immigrated to those respective cities. Since then, the rest of the 20th century from 1970-1999, Greek immigration to Australia very much declined and Greek immigrants were very few and not many of them came to settle in Australia during the rest of the century. The main way the Greek population was increasing greatly during this time was through the birth of either full, half or part Australian-born Greek descendants who are children (2nd Generation) and grandchildren(3rd Generation) of the Greek immigrants who came in the late 1940s, 1950s and 1960s.

After the changes in Greece from the mid 1970s, including the fall of the

  • Diamadis, Panayiotis - University of Technology, Sydney (2011). "Greeks". ] CC-By-SA (Greeks in Sydney) [ 

External links

  • Tamis, Anastasios (2005). The Greeks in Australia. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-54743-1
  • Gilchrist, Hugh (1992). Australians and Greeks Volume I: The Early Years. Brown, Prior, Anderson Pty. Ltd.. ISBN 978-1-875684-01-4
  • Alexakis, Effy and Janiszewski, Leonard (1998). In Their Own Image: Greek-Australians. Hale & Iremonger Pty Limited. ISBN 0-86806-655-9
  • Alexakis, Effy and Janiszewski, Leonard (1995). Images of Home: Mavri Xenitia. Hale & Iremonger Pty Limited. ISBN 0-86806-560-9
  • Alexakis, Effy and Janiszewski, Leonard (2013). Selling an American Dream: Australia's Greek Cafe. Macquarie University. ISBN 9781741383959


  1. ^ a b "ABS Ancestry". 2012. 
  2. ^ Racism No Way: Anti-racism education for Australian schools. "Australian Communities: Greek Australians". Retrieved 16 June 2015. 
  3. ^ 2006 Census Table: Ancestry by Country of Birth of Parents – Time Series Statistics (2001, 2006 Census Years)
  4. ^ Greek Reporter (24 June 2015). "Greeks fleeing to Melbourne due to crisis". Retrieved 29 June 2015. 
  5. ^  
  6. ^ a b Department of Immigration & Citizenship: Media - Publications: Statistics - Community Information Summaries
  7. ^ "First Greek". The Athenian Association of Sydney and NSW. Retrieved 16 December 2013. 
  8. ^ Australian Dictionary of Biography Online
  9. ^ Appleyard, Reginald; Yiannakis, John N. (2002). Greek Pioneers in Western Australia. UWA Publishing. p. 27. 
  10. ^ Keays, Sue (2004). "Yassou, Souvlakia and Paniyiri: Adapting Greek Culture for Australians". Social Change in the 21st Century Conference. Retrieved 20 December 2013.
  11. ^  
  12. ^ [2]
  13. ^ Australian Bureau of Statistic
  14. ^ 2006 Census Table: Language Spoken at Home by Sex – Time Series Statistics (1996, 2001, 2006 Census Years)
  15. ^
  16. ^ "The Australian People" an encyclopedia of the nation, it's people and their origins, by James Jupp – published 1988


See also







Rugby League

  • mixed martial artist

Martial Arts

Football (Soccer)


Boxing and Kickboxing

Australian Rules Football


Science and technology






Film, theatre and television



Art and design


Notable individuals

In 2011, the Greek language was spoken at home by 252,211 Australian residents, a 4.125% decrease from the 2001 census data. Greek is the fifth most commonly spoken language in Australia after English, Chinese, Arabic and Italian.[14]

Greek language

According to census data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics in 2006, Greek-Australian citizens are mainly Christian by religion, with 95.3% of Greece-born persons identifying with that religion. 1.6% identified with no religion or atheism, and a further 1.1% identified with other religions, while 1.9% did not answer the census question on religion.[13]



State or territory Greek Australians
 New South Wales
 South Australia
 Western Australia
 Australian Capital Territory
 Northern Territory
 Australia 378,270

The largest concentration of Greeks in Australia is in the state of Victoria, which is often regarded as the heartland of the Greek Australian community. The latest Census in 2011 recorded 99 939 Greece-born people in Australia, a fall of 9.1 per cent from the 2006 Census. The 2011 distribution by state and territory showed Victoria had the largest number with 49 992 followed by New South Wales (31 546), South Australia (9756) and Queensland (3441).[12][6]

Greeks by state or territory


In the early 2010s there has been an increase of Greek immigration flows to Australia due to unemployment, among other issues, because of the economic crisis in Greece. This has led to the return of many Greek Australians which had gone to Greece before the crisis and also the arrival of newcomers from Greece, who have been received by the large Greek Australian community mainly in Melbourne.[11]

Since the year 2000, Greek immigration to Australia has slowed down. However, in the years 2000-2009, many Greek-Australians both native Greek and Australian-born, returned to Greece to discover their homeland and reconnect with their ancestral roots. Yet, as the economic crisis in Greece grew, the opportunities for temporary resident Greek Australians abroad were limited. For this reason many Greek Australians have shortened their planned long term stays in Greece and have returned home to Australia.

Greek Australians during a parade for Australia Day in Melbourne (2014).

21st century Greek Immigration to Australia


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