A new landmark publication about the Greeks of Cretan origin in Australia and New Zealand has just been released by the Pancretan Association of Melbourne – Australia. It is the result of eight years of research and writing by Socrates Tsourdalakis, a Cretan from Melambes of the Rethymnon prefecture who has been in Australia since 1965.
The book initially covers the arrival of the first Greeks in Australia and the history of the settlement of the Greek community in Australia and New Zealand, from early in the 19th century until today. It then addresses in great detail, on a state by state and territory basis, including New Zealand, the settlement of the Greeks of Cretan origin in each area, their social activities and the history of the various Associations and Brotherhoods that they established. The book is full of the names of those involved over the years in the activities of the Cretan community, provides details of the major social activities and events and is full of photographs of those unforgettable occasions when the whole Cretan community gathered together to celebrate their Cretan ancestry, customs and traditions.
Photographs of the numerous social dances that were almost always enjoyed with the presence of renown traditional Cretan singers that often came especially for the occasion are presented in the book, providing information about those visiting artists that gave to all those present that important link with Crete. There are also many photographs from those solemn occasions commemorating heroic events from Crete’s proud history, such as the Battle of Crete and the holocaust of the Arkadi monastery in 1866. In the book one comes across other interesting stories about initiatives by Cretans in Australia such as the erection of the Hellenic Memorial in Canberra to commemorate those Australians and Greeks that fought and died in Greece and in Crete during WWII. Another important fact documented in the book is the purchase of the “ Cretan House “ in 1974 and later the “Cretan Village” complex was built in 1985. It provides also a very informative chapter about Crete, its history and its many heroes that sacrificed their lives for freedom and the maintenance of the Orthodox Christian traditions during the long periods of occupation of the island by Arabs, Venetians and Turks. Finally it contains a list of the names of more than 1,400 first generation Cretans that settled in Australia and New Zealand with information about their place or origin and other family details. Although the book is written in Greek, it provides also extensive summaries of the various sections in English that would be of great assistance to those that have some difficulty with reading Greek but are interested in the history of the settlement in Oceania of Greeks of Cretan origin and want to view the numerous pictures of the community’s social events.
This book is the result of a work of love by Mr. Socrates Tsourdalakis, love to land of his parents and ancestors but also love for his adopted country and his compatriots who settled here so that they have a lasting record of their experiences in their new country, as part of a tightly knit community that maintains its rich traditions but who also celebrates life in their new country. Mr. Socrates Tsourdalakis must be congratulated for his enormous contribution to the Cretan community of Oceania. The Pancretan Association of Melbourne – Australia must also be congratulated for undertaking the task of funding the production of the magnificent volume that would be treasured in all Cretan homes in this far away land where Cretans chose to settle and prosper, away from their ancestral land.