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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.


Spartacus and Norma Tsiamis with their daughter Karina | Alice Springs, NT, 1987. Photo: Effy Alexakis
Spartacus and Norma Tsiamis with their daughter Karina | Alice Springs, NT, 1987. Photo: Effy Alexakis

The connection between indigenous Australians and early Greeks goes back many years in the context of Greek Australian history.

A current project that Effy  is photographing is the work of Father Nektarios in the Sydney suburb of Newtown . Many indigenous Australians in the area are supported by Father, and a few that we have spoken to claim a similar spiritual connection with the Greek people, through Father Nektarios. In 1987 Effy and I spent many months driving around Australia in search of Greek-Australians and diverse stories. Alice Springs is a remote town in the centre of Australia, in the country’s desert. It is halfway between Darwin and Adelaide, both 1,500 km away.

Spartacus: ‘I like it her, a bit quiet. Been back to Greece, don’t really miss Greece… my parents are dead, my brother is here… The first three to four years some racism, now doesn’t bother me at all… My father was in jail twenty years – a political prisoner – because he was involved in the resistance. My mother was provoked by them [Greek authorities] all the time. She had to work hard to support us. I had a hard time as a boy. Saw no future in Greece – if your family’s name was crossed you had no chance… Older son [Kostas]… my culture means nothing to him.’

Norma (née Wurramarrba): ‘He [Kostas] speaks some of my language… family from Groote Eylandt [off the Northern Territory’s east coast in the Gulf of Carpentaria]… [we] take life as it come.’

- by Leonard Janiszewski


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


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

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