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Greek City Times is proud to present a weekly historical snapshot
from the archives of the ‘In Their Own Image: Greek Australians’  national project
by photographer Effy Alexakis and historian Leonard Janiszewski.

With ongoing interest in the migration stories between Greece and Australia, attention should be given to those women who were left behind in regions within Greece that had been heavily affected by male migration to Australia prior to the 1950s. In some villages, the unbelievable situation had developed where woman far outnumbered the men. Whilst not Greek-Australians, these women should nonetheless be considered part of the narrative of Greek female migration to Australia.

Today’s story, Katerina Karvouni, waited in the hope that someone amongst those men who had migrated from her village would remember her and propose marriage.

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Ekaterina Karvouni, Ayia Saranta, Ithaca, 1990 Photo: Effy Alexakis

‘Pappou (Nicholas Lekatsas) got married here in Greece, then went to Romania, then to Australia. Had three daughters, yiayia always stayed here. Pappou died in Australia. For many years people were going to Australia; on ships they would leave. I’m the only one that lives in this area. Thirty years ago about twenty-five people. Now a lot of deserted houses. My father was from Kalamo and he lived in this house, which was my mother’s. Mother’s name Akrivi. These houses are our family’s. I wanted to go to Australia but no one offered to take me. I had family problems – my parents got sick. My mother, I had to look after her for twenty-five years…The future? I can see that people are buying up – many xeni (foreigners) will come.

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Ekaterina’s grandfather Nicholas Lekatsas, photo taken in Sydney c. late 1930s, early 1940s.

‘He was missing forty-five years and died after the war. Only knew that he was in Sydney. He worked in a shop. He would leave his money in the shop. One day, the money was stolen, so he never had money to return.’

In attempting to find out more about Ekaterina’s grandfather, a search using Trove found hundreds of entries under ‘Greek Café robberies’. Sadly many Greek men were murdered whilst being robbed.

READ: ‘In Her Own Image: Greek-Australian Women Beyond the Stereotypes’ which also mentions Ekaterina’s story.

Research: Leonard Janiszewski
Photos:  Effy Alexakis
© In Their Own Image: Greek-Australians National Project Archives


Since the early 1980s, Effy Alexakis, a photographer, along with historian researcher Leonard Janiszewski, have been travelling around Australia photographing and collecting stories. They have also photographed Greek-Australians in Greece and documented some amazing histories. The images and text provide personal, diverse and powerfully moving insights, about opportunities, hopes and challenges. Collectively, these stories provide personal perspectives of a diasporic Hellenic identity. Their archive encompasses photography, both historical and contemporary, taped interviews and literary materials.

They have published 3 books and numerous articles, and their projects are ongoing. The photographs have been widely exhibited throughout Australia and in Greece.

VISIT THEIR LATEST PROJECT:  Greek Cafés & Milk Bars of Australia | Facebook




Guest Contributor

This piece was written for Greek City Times by a Guest Contributor