SOME WEST COASTERS – The fate of Tasmania’s West Coast has always depended on mining and in recent years, tourism has greatly contributed to its stability. It is mining that Leo Deacon writes about in his poems of Goodnight Mt Lyell and Good Morning Mt Lyell when the mine did the unthinkable and closed then reopened 1994-1995. Romanian, Gerry Mircea escaped from Europe to become a successful and well-known businessman. A rare document was found and translated although its owner and nationality cannot be determined. The Gen S S Muir brought 1280 passengers as migrants to Australia in 1950 and this translation records their journey. The cartoon left depicts their departure from Bremen to unknown lands.
A FOOTBALL CLUB CALLED TASMANIA IN BERLIN - It is believed that German merchant ships transporting minerals from the West coast to Germany from Tasmania about 1900, went back to Germany to call a local soccer team The Tasmanian Football Club. It was formed in 1901 and then re-formed in 1973 and still plays under this name. Read all about its dubious record and more interesting facts in the story from the book. Have a look at their flag with the 1973 emblem.
THE CHINESE – The discovery of tin in the North East of Tasmania about the time of the main gold rushes in other states, brought many prospectors and the most successful and numerous were the hard-working Chinese. James Chung Gon came with a ‘shilling,’ prospected for tin, returned to China to find a wife and came back to Tasmania to rear 11 children. He was a well-known market gardener and ran two green-grocery shops in Launceston. He became a much loved Patriarch of the Chinese community.
THE GREEKS – It is reported that the first Greek sailed into Botany Bay with the First Fleet. In Tasmania, Gregory Casimaty and his family were the first Greeks, prospered and brought more Greeks to our shores. About 1930 there were two Greek families and in 2002 there were 3,500 Greeks in the general population. Read about the Castrisios brothers who ran the Athens Grocery store. Relive the experiences of Chris Diamantis, a non-English speaking Greek boy, 18 years old and newly-arrived in Melbourne in January 1956. A group of Greek-Hobart debutantes, right.
A HUNGARIAN MIGRANT - Therese Corfiatis penned two poems about a father who experienced the bitterness of having to leave his homeland behind. Atilla Ferenc always hoped to return and help his country of birth back to its former days of glory but this was not to be. He experienced the language barrier and tried to help others arriving during those years. Read Therese’s two heart-rending poems, A memory of and Eastern European Migration AND The Agony of a Migrant’s Last days.
THE RELUCTANT IMMIGRANT – An initial search for this book was for an Italian called Antonio Martini. Who would suspect that he was Spanish and had served with the British Naval Fleet against Napoleon? Antonio Martini deserted, was captured, transported to Australia and Tasmania and continued to offend. He finally settled in Launceston and owned property and hotels. His hotel, The Royal Oak, still stands today on the corner of Brisbane and Tamar Streets in Launceston. Read about him and his family. Examine his convict record of 1830 right:
POST-WAR MIGRATION to Tasmania: They came from the ashes of Europe, some had fought side by side with Australians, others had endured forced labour camps under the Germans and then the Soviets, all had suffered from war. The Hydro Electric Commission schemes of Tasmania employed many thousands of migrants from 1947 onwards. Australian camp food wasn’t very palatable and the single men’s quarters were non-drinking areas. Whenever possible the men travelled to Hobart and Launceston for some continental delights and general entertainment. There were sometimes dances in the HEC villages but partners were few. Left is an invitation to a HEC Ball in 1954 at The Belvedere dance rooms. The Belvedere became a well-known Hobart place of entertainment.
Read their stories and many more in my new book Tasmania – an Island Far Away