Greek Australians

Greek Australians (Greek: Ελληνοαυστραλοί, Ellinoafstrali) are Australians who have full or partial Greek heritage or people who sought asylum as refugees after the Greek Civil War or emigrated from Greece and reside in Australia. The 2016 census recorded 397,431 people of Hellenic/ Greek ancestry, and 93,740 born in Greece,[3] making Australia home to one of the largest Greek communities in the world. Globally, Hellenic identity and values are passed down from one generation to the next and do not depend upon one's location in the world. As such, 88% of Greek Australians (regardless of country of birth) speak Greek and 91% are members of the Greek Orthodox Church.[4]

Greek Australians
Greek christening party, Bondi Beach, Sydney, September 1946.jpg
Greek christening party, Bondi Beach, Sydney, September 1946
Total population
397,431 (by ancestry, 2016)[1]
600,000+ (higher estimate)[2]
Regions with significant populations
Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide, Brisbane, Perth
Australian English · Greek
Predominantly Greek Orthodox
Related ethnic groups
Cypriot Australians · Greek New Zealanders · Other Greek diaspora groups

Greeks are the seventh largest ethnic group in Australia. The 2011 census reported 378,270 people have Greek ancestry, either exclusively or in combination with another ethnic group, up from 365,147. The 2006 census recorded 125,849 people were born in Greece.[3] The 2016 census recorded 16,929 people were born in Cyprus and 28,991 people with Cypriot ancestry (many of whom are Greek Cypriots). The 2011 census recorded 18,070 people were born in Cyprus and 22,680 people had Cypriot ancestry. The 2016 census recorded 18,369 people born in Cyprus and 29,005 people of Cypriot ancestry. Greeks and Cypriots in Australia collectively total 422,234 people.

Greek immigration to Australia has been one of the largest migratory flows in the history of Australia, especially after World War II and Greek Civil War. As of 2015 the flow of migrants from Greece has in fact increased due to the economic crisis in Greece,[5] with Australia as one of the main destinations, mainly to Melbourne where the Greek Australian community is most established.[6]

Australia and Greece have a close bilateral relationship based on historical ties and the rich contribution of Greek Australians to Australian society. In 2019, the export of Australian services to Greece was valued at $92 million, while services imports from Greece totalled $750 million. Australia's stock of investment in Greece in 2019 totalled $481 million. Investment in Australia from Greece was $192 million.[7]

Preservation of Greek culture and community is extremely important to the Greeks. One study investigating the 54 most common ethnic groups in Australia found that Greek Australians had the lowest rate of intermarriage (marrying outside their ethnicity) than every other race in the first, second and third generations.[8] Generally, intermarriage results in a loss of culture in the subsequent generation unless engagement with Greek language and education is introduced early and maintained throughout childhood. As observed among other ethnic groups, children born to mixed marriages are much less likely to marry someone of a similar background and the original culture is completely lost within just two generations. Despite Greek Australians exhibiting the lowest rate of intermarriage in the country, the Greek Orthodox Church in Australia reports that the number of Greeks marrying non-Greek spouses is increasing in recent years. Children born to mixed-marriage Greek families more often than not embrace their Hellenic heritage and the appeal of Greek culture in these instances creates an opportunity for the community to grow in number rather than diminish.


Early Greek immigrationEdit

Greek immigration to Australia began in the early colonial period in the 19th century. The first known Greeks arrived in 1829.[9] These Greeks were seven sailors, convicted of piracy by a British naval court, and were sentenced to transportation to New South Wales. Though eventually pardoned, two of those seven Greeks stayed and settled in the country. One settled on the Monaro Plains in Southern New South Wales and one at Picton near Sydney. Their names were Ghikas Bulgaris known as Jigger Bulgari, and Andonis Manolis. Jigger Bulgari married an Irish woman, and they had many children. Jigger was buried at Nimmitabel Pioneer Cemetery. The Hellenic Club of Canberra laid a commemorative marble plaque over his resting place around 2000. Andonis Manolis' grave is in the old cemetery at Mittagong. The first known free Greek migrant to Australia was Katerina Georgia Plessos (1809–1907),[10] who arrived in Sydney with her husband Major James Crummer in 1835. They married in 1827 on the island of Kalamos where Crummer, the island's commandant met the young refugee from the Greek independence wars. In her youth she must have been one of the last living people to speak to Lord Byron. They lived in Sydney, Newcastle and Port Macquarie. They had 11 children.[11] The first wave of free Hellenic migrants commenced in the 1850s, and continued through the end of the 19th century, prompted in part by the recent discovery of gold in the country.[12] A young Greek immigrant born in Athens, Greece named Georgios Tramountanas (1822 – 29 January 1911) and anglicised as George North in 1858, was the first settler of Greek origin in South Australia in 1842. The Greek community of South Australia regards North (Tramountanas) as their Pioneering Grandfather. In 1901, the year of federation, the Australian census recorded 878 native Greeks that were born there (In Greece), now living in Australia. Many of these Greeks were owners of or were employed in shops and restaurants. Some were also cane-cutters in Queensland.

20th century Greek Immigration to AustraliaEdit

Orpheus Arfaras, Greek ceramicist, Sydney, 1952

From the last decade of the 19th century until WWI the number of Greeks immigrating to Australia increased steadily and Hellenic communities were reasonably well established in Melbourne and Sydney at this time. The Greek language press had begun in Australia and in 1913, Australia had the first Greek weekly newspaper that was published in Melbourne. During WWI Greece remained neutral, eventually joining the side of the Allies. In 1916 the Australian government responded to this by placing a special prohibition on the entry of Greeks and Maltese people to Australia that was not lifted until 1920. There were a number of anti-Greek outbursts as a result of the neutrality stance by Greece, often instigated by Australian soldiers on leave. During these outbursts Greek shops and Greek cafés were badly damaged or destroyed, with the worst rioting occurring in Kalgoorlie and Boulder.

During the 1920s, as a result of the Greco-Turkish War there was a significant amount of Greek migration to Darwin and across the Top End. Greeks often worked in the canefields in North Queensland and move to Darwin during the dry season to work in the pearling industry. One famous family of Greek Australians, the Paspaley family from the island of Kastellorizo, excelled in the Pearling industry and have stores across Australia with their main store in Darwin. It is noted that the first major flow of Greek immigrants to Australia began in the mid 1920s, where a large number of Greek people from Kastellorizo migrated to Australia to escape the Ottoman repression. A large number of these people from Greece's easternmost island spent time in Egypt's second largest city, Alexandria, before being offered migration to Australia by British authorities. Those of Kastellorizian descent living in Australia now refer to themselves as 'Kazzies,' and have maintained a strong and unique community.

During the interwar period, the number of Greeks migrating to Australia increased substantially. Some Greeks who settled in Australia were expelled from Asia Minor after the Greek military defeat and the genocide committed by Turkey between 1913 and 1922, while other Greeks sought entry after the USA established restrictive immigration quotas in the early 1920s. From 1924 until 1936 a series of regulations operating in Australia severely restricted the number of Greeks permitted to immigrate to and settle in Australia.

Greece entered WWII with the Allies when she was invaded by German and Italian forces who remained in Greece until 1944. Many ANZACs went to the nation and tried to help the population to defeat the Axis enemy only to be saved themselves by the locals, building a relationship between Australians and Greeks that stands strong to this day. When troops withdrew a struggle broke out between pro and anti-communist factions which resulted in civil war between 1946 and 1949, ending with the defeat of the communists, but at a cost of many Greek lives and the uprooting of children who were kidnapped and taken from their families.

The Greek government, devastated by the destruction of infrastructure and the mass looting of their banks by the Germans, encouraged post-war migration as a way of solving poverty and unemployment problems. Post WWII in the late 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s, Greeks were one of the main European races picked by the Australian government's "Populate or perish" immigration scheme and due to this, thousands of Greeks migrated to Australia to gain a better life and future for themselves and their families. The main destinations where these "Hellenes" immigrated were cities such as Melbourne, Sydney and Adelaide. During these decades, Greeks began to establish their own restaurants, Hellenic Community Clubs, and Greek-Australian soccer clubs. Greeks along with Italians, Croatians, Maltese, Serbians, Jews, Hungarians, Czechs, etc. marked a milestone on Australian sport in general by forming many successful Association football clubs. The most successful Australian clubs with Greek heritage and culture are South Melbourne Hellas (South Melbourne FC) founded in 1959, Alexander the Great (Heidelberg United FC) founded in 1958, Pan-Hellenic (Sydney Olympic FC) founded in 1957, West Adelaide Hellas (West Adelaide SC) founded in 1962 and Brisbane Pan Rhodian (Olympic FC) founded in 1967. All five clubs were founded by Greek immigrants that immigrated to those respective cities.

After the changes in Greece from the mid 1970s, including the fall of the Papadopoulos regime in 1974 and the formal inclusion of Greece into the European Union, Greek immigration to Australia has slowed since the 1971 peak of 160,200 arrivals. Within Australia, the Greek immigrants have been "extremely well organised socially and politically", with approximately 600 Greek organisations in the country by 1973, and immigrants have strived to maintain their faith and cultural identity.[13]

By comparison the Greek Cypriot community in Australia doubled following the Invasion of Cyprus by Turkey following a campaign of ethnic cleansing in 1974. [14]

21st century Greek Immigration to AustraliaEdit

Greek Australians during a parade for Australia Day in Melbourne (2014)

Since the year 2000, Greek immigration to Australia has slowed down. However, in the years 2000–2009, many Greek-Australians both native Greek and Australian-born, returned to Greece to discover their homeland and reconnect with their ancestral roots. Yet, as the economic crisis in Greece grew, the opportunities for temporary resident Greek Australians abroad were limited. For this reason many Greek Australians have shortened their planned long term stays in Greece and have returned home to Australia.

In the early 2010s there has been an increase of Greek immigration flows to Australia due to unemployment, among other issues, because of the economic crisis in Greece. This has led to the return of many Greek Australians which had gone to Greece before the crisis and also the arrival of newcomers from Greece, who have been received by the large Greek Australian community mainly in Melbourne.[15]


Greeks by state or territoryEdit

The largest concentration of Greeks in Australia is in the state of Victoria, which is often regarded as the heartland of the Greek Australian community. The latest Census in 2016 recorded 93,740 Greece-born people in Australia, a fall of 6.2 per cent from the 2011 Census. The 2011 distribution by state and territory showed Victoria had the largest number of Greek-born people with 47,236 followed by New South Wales (29,479), South Australia (8,681), Queensland (3,304) and Western Australia (2,308).[9][16]

With regards to the total number of people with Greek, Cypriot or Vlach ancestry, either exclusively or in combination with a non-Greek ethnic group, there are 422,234 Greeks according to the 2016 census. 316,351 (74.9%) recorded Greek, Cypriot or Vlach as their first ancestral response, and 105,883 (25.1%) as their second ancestry. Of the 422,234 people with Greek, Cypriot and Vlach ancestry, 42.9% live in Victoria, 33.6% live in New South Wales, 9.56% in South Australia, 7.46% in Queensland, 3.7% in Western Australia, 1.2% in the Australian Capital Territory, 1.01% in the Northern Territory, and 0.59% in Tasmania. Nearly two-thirds (32.8%) of these were born in Australia, and one-third overseas, mostly in Greece and Cyprus.[17] The cities with the largest populations with Greek ancestry are Melbourne with 173,598, Sydney at 127,274, and Adelaide with 37,768 people of Greek descent.



According to census data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics in 2016, Australians with Greek ancestry are mainly Christian (91.4%) mostly Eastern Orthodox (with minorities who belong to different christian denominations like Catholics, Jehovah's Witnesses, Pentecostals etc) with smaller religious groups (0.4%) represented. 5.6% identified as spiritual, secular or irreligious, and 2.6% did not answer the census question on religion.[18] Greek Australians are predominantly Greek Orthodox.[18] The largest religious body of Greek Orthodox Australians is the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia, with its headquarters at the Cathedral of The Annunciation of Our Lady in the inner Sydney suburb of Redfern. According to Special Broadcasting Service Greeks in Australia have got higher weekly church attendance and higher levels of religiosity from Greeks in Greece.

Greek languageEdit

In 2016, the Greek language was spoken at home by 237,588 Australian residents, a 5.8% decrease from the 2011 census data. Greek is the seventh most commonly spoken language in Australia after English, Mandarin, Arabic, Cantonese, Vietnamese and Italian.[19] The remainder of the ethnic Greek population in Australia mainly use English as their first language.


The Greek language press had begun in Australia in 1913 when the first Greek weekly newspaper was published in Melbourne. In South Australia, the local Greek community published a short-lived newspaper called Okeanis (Oceania), around 1914 before it moved to Sydney.[20] On 16 November 1926, George Marsellos and John Stilson published a broadsheet under the name Panellenios Keryx (Panhellenic Herald or The Greek Herald), becoming the second national Greek newspaper in Australia.[21] In 1935 and 1936 a third newspaper, Pharos (Lighthouse), was published, and a number of short-lived titles were issued in the late 1960s, with the longest of these being Tachydromos (Mailman), founded in September 1968.[20] In 1957, Hellenic/Greek language newspaper Neos Kosmos was founded by Dimitri Gogos, Bill Stefanou and Alekos Doukas, the latter also being an exceptionally well known author. Since 1994, a publication called Paroikiako Vema (Steps in the adopted Country) and printed in Renmark, has served the Greek community in rural South Australia.[22]

Multicultural broadcaster SBS (Special Broadcasting Service) airs a Greek-language radio program every afternoon from 4 PM to 6 PM. The program features news, current affairs, music, interviews, and a talkback segment, where listeners can dial into the program from 5:30 PM onwards and express their opinion on a topic being focused on. Additionally, SBS also airs Greek public broadcaster ERT's Eidiseis news program every morning as part of their WorldWatch programming block.

Notable individualsEdit


Art and designEdit



Film, theatre, and televisionEdit

George Miller, director of Babe (1995), Happy Feet (2006), and Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)
Alex Proyas, director of The Crow (1994) and I, Robot (2004)



  • Dean Kalymniou – Lawyer, writer, advocate
  • Chris Kourakis – Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of South Australia
  • Emilios Kyrou – Justice of the Supreme Court of Victoria
  • Nicholas Pappas QC – former Chief Magistrate of Victoria
  • Ange Kenos - [Senior] Justice of the Peace




Science and technologyEdit


Australian Rules FootballEdit

Boxing and KickboxingEdit



Mixed Martial ArtsEdit

Rugby LeagueEdit







  • Philip Christou - athlete
  • Robert Kabbas - athlete
  • Bill Stellios - athlete
  • George Vassiliades - athlete and world champion powerlifter


See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "2016 Census of Population and Housing: T08. Country of Birth of Person by Sex; T09. Ancestry by Country of Birth of Parents" (XLS). Retrieved 24 December 2017: XLS downloads within a ZIP file{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: postscript (link)
  2. ^ Kolasa-Sikiaridi, Kerry (27 May 2016). "How Greeks Came to Immigrate to Australia". Greek Reporter Australia. Retrieved 24 December 2017.
  3. ^ a b Statistics, c=AU; o=Commonwealth of Australia; ou=Australian Bureau of. "Redirect to Census data page". Retrieved 6 January 2018.
  4. ^ SBS. "Greek Culture - Cultural Atlas". Retrieved 20 January 2022.
  5. ^ Greek (24 June 2015). "Greeks fleeing to Melbourne due to crisis". Retrieved 29 June 2015.
  6. ^ ABC News (23 June 2015). "Greek nationals move to Melbourne to escape growing economic, social crisis". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 6 September 2015.
  7. ^ {{cite web}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  8. ^ Siew-Ean Khoo, Bob Birrell, Genevieve Heard. "INTERMARRIAGE BY BIRTHPLACE AND ANCESTRY IN AUSTRALIA" (PDF). Retrieved 20 January 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  9. ^ a b Department of Immigration & Citizenship: Media – Publications: Statistics – Community Information Summaries
  10. ^ "First Hellenes in Australia". The Athenian Association of Sydney and NSW. Archived from the original on 16 December 2013. Retrieved 16 December 2013.
  11. ^ Australian Dictionary of Biography Online
  12. ^ Appleyard, Reginald; Yiannakis, John N. (2002). Greek Pioneers in Western Australia. UWA Publishing. p. 27.
  13. ^ Keays, Sue (2004). "Yassou, Souvlakia and Paniyiri: Adapting Greek Culture for Australians". Social Change in the 21st Century Conference. Retrieved 20 December 2013.
  14. ^ "Origins: History of immigration from Cyprus - Immigration Museum, Melbourne Australia". Retrieved 23 August 2018.
  15. ^ ABC News (11 October 2013). "Greek-Australian citizens look to Australia to escape economic crisis". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 30 June 2015.
  16. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 8 March 2016. Retrieved 30 June 2015.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  17. ^ "Census TableBuilder  - Log in". Retrieved 6 January 2018.
  18. ^ a b "Australian Bureau of Statistic". Retrieved 6 January 2018.
  19. ^ Statistics, c=AU; o=Commonwealth of Australia; ou=Australian Bureau of. "Redirect to Census data page". Retrieved 6 January 2018.
  20. ^ a b "SA Memory - SA Newspapers : Non-English language newspapers". 23 February 2007. Retrieved 22 August 2018.
  21. ^ Gilchrist, Hugh (1992). Australians and Greeks: The middle years. Australia: Australia: Halstead Press. pp. 346–349. ISBN 1875684026.
  22. ^ Laube, Anthony. "LibGuides: SA Newspapers: Non-English". Retrieved 22 August 2018.
  23. ^ Professor Vrasidas Karalis, Professor of the Department of Modern Greek and Byzantine Studies
  24. ^ Associate Professor Anthony Dracopoulos, Associate Professor of the Department of Modern Greek and Byzantine Studies
  25. ^ Professor Nicholas Athanasou, Professor of Musculoskeletal Pathology and Emeritus Fellow
  26. ^ "'Dire' situation for creative industries with collapse of iconic arts centre". 2GB. 5 May 2020. Retrieved 10 May 2020.
  27. ^ Walt, Ansie van der (3 January 2017). "A Thread Runs Through It: Sappers & Shrapnel". The Adelaide Review. Retrieved 10 May 2020.
  28. ^ Pappas, Penni (27 March 2014). "Nikos' personal thread". NEOS KOSMOS. Retrieved 10 May 2020.
  29. ^ "Theo Maras | Maras Group". 30 June 2015. Retrieved 18 February 2020.
  30. ^ "UniSA honours property developer Theo Maras". University of South Australia. Retrieved 18 February 2020.
  31. ^ "Hugh Jackman declares "I'm Greek" - Neos Kosmos". 10 August 2015. Retrieved 6 January 2018.
  32. ^ "Chris Karan - Credits - AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 23 August 2018.
  33. ^ "Australia's Country Music Bulletin, News Archive, June, 2007". Retrieved 23 August 2018.
  34. ^ "George Xanthos". Retrieved 23 August 2018.
  35. ^ "The Australian People" an encyclopedia of the nation, its people and their origins, by James Jupp – published 1988
  36. ^ Peter Yakka Facebook


  • Tamis, Anastasios (2005). The Greeks in Australia. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-54743-1
  • Gilchrist, Hugh (1992), Australians and Greeks Volume I: The Early Years, Brown, Prior, Anderson Pty. Ltd., ISBN 978-1-875684-01-4
  • Alexakis, Effy and Janiszewski, Leonard (1998). In Their Own Image: Greek-Australians. Hale & Iremonger Pty Limited. ISBN 0-86806-655-9
  • Alexakis, Effy and Janiszewski, Leonard (1995). Images of Home: Mavri Xenitia. Hale & Iremonger Pty Limited. ISBN 0-86806-560-9
  • Alexakis, Effy and Janiszewski, Leonard (2013). Selling an American Dream: Australia's Greek Cafe. Macquarie University. ISBN 9781741383959
  • Alexakis, Effy and Janiszewski, Leonard (2016). Greek Cafes & Milk Bars of Australia. Halstead Press. ISBN 9781925043181

External linksEdit