Lita Tzortzopoulou-Gregory, the Athens-based Executive Officer for the Australian
Archaeological Institute Athens drew on her vast and comprehensive knowledge of ancient Greece to lead the delegation on a tour of the Acropolis. She is also co-director of the Australian Paliochora-Kythera Archaeological Survey and the OSU Excavations project manager at Isthmia in Greece. Elizabeth Kaydos would lead the tour of the historic Anzac sites at Lemnos. She is a tireless volunteer and campaigner who leads the Lemnos 1915 WW1 Centenary Commemoration Committee, working to bring awareness of Lemnos and its role in the Gallipoli campaign to a broader public.
Both women have ancestral ties to Greece – one from Kythera and the other from Lemnos – and both are daughters of migrants to Australia who use their connections to Greece and love of their cultural heritage to promote a greater understanding of the intertwined histories of the two countries.
Kaydos and Tzortzopoulou-Gregory are deeply connected with the sacred grounds upon which they walk within their own capacity Kaydos is a volunteer Gregory, an recognised academic.
Moreover, they are humble in the way their work creates a bridge connecting Greek and Australian history. One is an expert in the ancient Greek world, the other in the modern, the result of both ensures the respect between the two nations continues to develop and brings the two nations closer together through shared history. While reflecting on different perspectives on history and culture, their work highlights the opportunities cross-cultural ties can bring to our two nations, with their shared values of freedom and their shared experiences in the struggle to maintain democracy.
Touring the Parthenon, Tzortzopoulou-Gregory gave a detailed account of the world heritage site, particularly the significance of the Acropolis not only as a symbol of democracy but as a timeless testament to the foundational contribution of Greek thought and culture to the world.
Recognising the significance of ancient and modern struggles for democracy, three members of the delegation, Mr Kilias, the Governor General, and Ambassador Spyrou, re-created the historic photo of Anzacs walking in front of the Parthenon, taken by G. Silk in 1941. (Photo courtesy of
Australian War Memorial).
When their Excellencies arrived in Lemnos, they were welcomed to the island by the President of Greece, Katerina Sakellaropoulou. Led by Kaydos, they travelled to the East Mudros Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery: the resting place of 98 Australians and 47 New Zealanders. They took part in a solemn wreath-laying ceremony, with moving speeches honouring the soldiers laid to rest over 100 years ago. After the ceremony, Kaydos led the delegation on a tour of the graves of Australian Anzacs.
After the commemoration, the entourage moved to the site, marking part of the Lemnos Remembrance Trail – a spot known as the "Australian Pier". Here, the Governor General Hurley and Prime Minister Sakellaropoulou took part in the ground-breaking ceremony to mark the begging of the Lemnos Remembrance Trail project commemorating Australia's presence on the the island during the Gallipoli campaign in 1915.
Lemnos was an important staging post for the Allied forces before the landings on Gallipoli. The Australian 3rd Brigade undertook their final training on the island; then, throughout the Gallipoli campaign, Lemnos played an important role as a hospital base. 1
The Remembrance Trail, expected to open in April 2024, will allow travellers to visit key sites of significance. A website will also be developed to tell the story of Australians on Lemnos for those who cannot visit in person. Credit must also be given to Mr Kevin Sumption and former Governor General of Greece Sydney, Mr Stavros Kyrimis, who played a pivotal role in creating what will be an immersive heritage site.
At the Australian Pier, Kaydos spoke of the significance of Mudros Harbour, the assembly and launch point for the ill-fated Gallipoli campaign, on 24 April 1915. Later, their Excellencies were taken on a tour by Kaydos of the Anzac sites on Pounda Bay. For Mrs Hurley, the visit was very special, as her great uncle had spent time on Lemnos as an Anzac soldier in 1915. Archive photographs taken in that year have been used to help capture what it was like for the Anzac
nurses and soldiers serving on the island as a site of healing from the horrors of Gallipoli.
Photo 9 Liz Kaydos with Mrs Hurley, whose uncle spent time on Lemnos
We are grateful to these two dedicated women, not only for showcasing Greece in all its glory but for the unique Greek-Australian perspective they were able to bring to the visit. Both build on the strong bonds that already exist between Greece and Australia. We look forward, with the assistance of people like Lita Tzortzopoulou-Gregory and Elizabeth Kaydos, to continue building on these bonds and to opportunities in the future for collaboration and research and opportunities. The remarkable shared history between our countries, as well as the strong ties
to Greece, our immigrant population bring with them, ensures a shared future of
cooperation and engagement.
The Australian Archaeological Institute of Athens is proud to help facilitate these future collaborations and strengthen those between Greece and Australia.
Theodora Minas Gianniotis is the Outreach and Engagement Officer of the Australian Archaeological Institute of Athens, Sydney University
All photos are courtesy of the Australian Embassy in Greece unless otherwise indicated