Ukrainian Community

Workmen building Poatina hydro-electric station, 1960 (AOT, AA193/1/725)

Ukrainians were among the migrants to Tasmania after the Second World War, with many employed in hydro-electric works in the highlands. The majority, about fifty families, eventually settled in Hobart, with about twenty families settling in Launceston and small cohorts in Devonport and Burnie. In Hobart, the Association of Ukrainians in Tasmania bought premises in Moonah in 1957, funded by a 'spec' building project, and a Saturday Ukrainian School, folk dancing group, scouting group and choral groups were established. They continued till the early 1970s when interest waned in the younger generation. In Launceston premises were built at St Leonards. The community's religious affiliations were a focus of activity. Most belonged to the Byzantine or Eastern branch of Catholicism with the remainder Orthodox. There was an Orthodox Church with a priest in North Hobart until the population shrank and could no longer support them. The Ukrainian Catholic priest based at the Melbourne cathedral visits regularly.

By the 1970s there was a brain drain to the much larger Ukrainian communities on the mainland. Among the younger generation all but two marriages were 'mixed' so a strong input into the community's cultural life was difficult. As original membership declined with the years, few of the next generation felt drawn to membership of the Association, so cultural life dwindled.

Further reading: Australian Federation of Ukrainian Organisations, Ukrainians in Australia, Melbourne, 1998.

Myron Mihal