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Culture > Bibliography > Southern Europeans in Australia

Culture > Bibliography

submitted by Peter Tsicalas on 20.09.2004

Southern Europeans in Australia

Southern Europeans in Australia
by Charles A. Price
Published by Oxford University Press (in association with The Australian National University), Melbourne, 1963.

Dr Price was the groundbreaker on research of Southern European settlement patterns in Australia, and upon whose shoulders most subsequent studies rest. He gives an overview of Kytherian settlement and mentions that …This community apparently began when Jack Melitas, who had come to Australia during the gold-rushes (presumably sometime in the 1850s), returned to Kythera and spread the news about Australia….

He quotes the example of a mysterious Mylopotamonian to demonstrate the modus operandi of the stereotypical Kytherian: … As they spread over rural New South Wales and Southern Queensland opening restaurants, fruit shops and small mixed businesses, they developed what might be called a ‘system of business promotion’, a procedure whereby many newcomers started as assistant cooks, waiters and counter-boys in an established restaurant or shop, then moved on after a few years to their own little business in some other town, then gradually passed on from town to town, each time obtaining a larger and more prosperous business; finally many of them moved back to Sydney as men of means and substance. One Kytherian, from the little village of Milopotamos, came to New South Wales early in the century to join his three cousins in Sydney. After a while he took over a small restaurant in Tamworth and there stayed for nearly two years. He then moved to a larger restaurant in Maitland for eighteen months, on to Narrabri for three years, and thence to Wauchope for 5 years. He then moved back to Sydney and invested his savings in various city hotels. During the depression his Sydney investments deteriorated badly so he moved out to the country again, to a small town near Kempsey, and did not return to Sydney until he had again achieved some measure of prosperity. Throughout his ascent from larger to larger establishment he usually sold out to a Kytherian slightly behind him on the ladder of progress and bought from a compatriot somewhat further advanced. So many of them became involved in this kind of activity that the rate of Kytherian movement about Australia became considerably higher during the third stage of settlement (1920-28) than the first (pre 1880) [Second Stage = 1880-1914?] . Even so, this high rate of mobility, this advance - often with family and children - from one secure foothold to another, was very different from the earlier movement of unattached propertyless men from cleaning fish in the fish-market, to washing dishes in a restaurant, to becoming an assistant cook in a hotel, and so forth.

He also speculates on the reason for the historical accident that saw the Kytherians dominating provincial settlement: … It is interesting to note, however, the considerable difference between such peoples as Kytherians and Ithacans. Ithacans, coming from an area of relatively high nucleation, concentrated from the very beginning in certain parts of Melbourne, Sydney, Newcastle, and other metropolitan centres; less than 15% of Ithacan settlement – even including those temporarily settled in mining towns such as Kalgoorlie – took place elsewhere (See Appendix 19 – published in a separate volume as “The Method and Statistics of ‘Southern Europeans in Australia’” by the ‘Publications Committee on behalf of the Research School of Social Sciences’, ANU, Canberra, 1963). Kytherians, on the other hand, who came from an island where the majority of inhabitants live in small scattered hamlets, dispersed quite quickly in twos and threes among the country towns of southern Queensland, New South Wales, and northern Victoria; nearly two-thirds of Kytherian settlement took place in this way (see Appendix 19). It is impossible to assert definitely that this difference between the pattern of Kytherian and Ithacan settlement in Australia directly reflects the difference of settlement patterns in Europe; but the contrast is striking, and the European background seems a likely explanation of some of the difference. There’s a PhD in it for someone.

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