On 4 November 1995, a freezing cold spring morning, the Slovenian Community witnessed the unveiling of a black granite plaque in the International Wall of Friendship at Hobart. At a previous function on Saturday 20 May 1995, the Slovenian Chargé d'Affaires in Canberra, Mr Alijaz Gosnar, officially presented the plaque, and a Slovenian flag, to Dr Frank Madill, the Minister for Multicultural and Ethnic Affairs.
Dr Frank Madill accepts the Slovenian plaque for the International Wall of Friendship from Mr Alijaz Gosnar, Slovenian Charge d'Affaires (Canberra) and the President of the Slovenian Community in Tasmania, Mr Anton Ambroz on 20 May 1995. In national costume from left, Mary & Tania Mavric and Lydia Golez
Mr Gosnar advised this was the first tangible recognition of Slovenia's independence within Australia, even though Tasmania had the smallest Slovenian community. Proud Slovenes from all over Tasmanian came together for this auspicious event.
The Slovenian flag depicts Triglav, the highest peak in the Julian Alps in the north west corner of Slovenia, under the three six pointed stars of the Count of Celje. Slovenia is known as 'the land beneath Triglav'.
The small Slovenian Community stand beneath their flag which was flown for the first time in Tasmania on the National Day of Slovenia, 25 June 1996, at the International Wall of Friendship.
Slovenians emigrated to Australia at the end of the Second World War. On 6 July 1949 the first Slovenian arrived at Beauty Point in Tasmania. The only method of transportation available to postwar emigrants was by boat, sponsored by the Australian Government. The single migrants were required to contribute one week's work aboard cooking, cleaning and performing other tasks.
They went straight to the Brighton Camp, and were given accommodation, meals, lessons in English and the opportunity to begin their new life with work offered by companies like the Electrolytic Zinc Works, Hydro-Electric Commission, the Forestry Department and Cadbury. Others worked in butcheries and smallgoods factories. Single men seemed to integrate faster than families.
After the 1960s, once the early arrivals became established with homes of their own, their next goal was to bring out remaining family members. Almost the entire population of one small village emigrated. Very approximately, about sixty Slovenians now resided in Tasmania. By now the single men from the Brighton Camp days had married Australian women and had families of their own. For example, the present author was born Jessie Bridge in Nubeena, Tasmania in 1933. She met Anton Ambroz at a dance hall in Hobart, the Belvedere, and they married in June 1955. Coincidentally they were both employed at the Zinc Works.
During the 1970s the Slovenes in Hobart attended a concert performed by a Slovenian folk group Lojze Slak, and were inspired to form a club, which was headed by Josef and Maria Mavric. The Slovenian Club hired the Ukranian Hall in Moonah to hold dances. The purpose of the Club was to foster goodwill and friendship amongst Slovenes and their families by holding dances at various halls in Hobart and Glenorchy. The Club continued for about ten years with the profit from dances intended to build a clubhouse, but by the year 1989 interest had waned due to the deaths of many of the original members. Children of the early Slovenes were not interested in continuing with this social/cultural interaction and it was decided to close the Club. The money held was used to buy 36 cemetery plots at the Roman Catholic Church in Pontville and to create the plaque for the International Wall of Friendship.
The Slovenian Community celebrate the recognition of their homeland's independence in true Aussie style – a barbeque at the shack.
On 25 June 1991 Slovenia declared independence from Yugoslavia. On 22 May 1992 Slovenia was accepted as a permanent member of the United Nations.