Greek Community

Trifon Kelestioglou, a licensed victualler aged 28, was naturalised in Hobart in 1878, and may have been the first Greek to settle in Tasmania. Athanasius Kaparatos was the first Greek in Launceston, arriving in 1884. He worked for thirty years as a wharf labourer, and was awarded a medal for saving a number of people from drowning in the Tamar. He later opened the Continental Café.

Like Athanasius, many early Greeks opened cafés. Grigorios Kasimatis (Gregory Casimaty) was probably the first to settle permanently in Hobart, in 1914. He established the Britannia Café, and with his brothers started Casimaty Bros Fish Shop in about 1918. In 1930, when George Haros arrived from Greece, there were fourteen Greeks in Hobart. In 1936 George opened the Green Gate Milk Bar, and began to manufacture his invention, the Haros boiler, which has been exported Australia-wide and overseas.

Post-war migration saw the major increase in the Greek community. Many were brought out as assisted migrants to work at Hydro-Electric Commission power stations. In 1953 the Hellenic Association of Tasmania was formed, with Gregory Casimaty as president; a school, hall, club and welfare centre were established; and the Olympia soccer club was also a focus. The Launceston Greek Community was formed in the early 1960s.

Most Greek people have been self-employed. Many bought small grocery shops and ran corner stores. Most of the shareholders of Saveway Foods, a grocery warehouse (197088), were Greek. Some Greeks moved on to property development and other business ventures. Hundreds of Greeks and their descendants now play an important role in the Tasmanian economy and community life.

Helen Kalis