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The first Castellorizian settled in Australia in the late 19th century and originally sought employment opportunities where there was work. In the early days there were two points of arrival, Fremantle in Western Australia and Darwin in the Northern Territory. Those who alighted in Darwin either settled there or moved across to Wyndham in Western Australia to work or to the Innisfail District in North Queensland where there was work and other families had settled there. By the early 20th century a number of families had established themselves in Perth and in 1912 the first Castellorizian Corporation was established in Perth.
Following the First World War other families arrived in Australia, settling in Perth with some moving to South Australia to work in the smelters at Port Pirie and subsequently settling in Adelaide, some settled in North Queensland and others came to Sydney and some went to Melbourne.
In 1924 at the request of a few prominent Castellorizians in Sydney discussions took place at the office of Vasilis Photios to establish a Castellorizian Association in Sydney with the prime purpose of maintaining the culture and assisting those left behind in Castellorizo by either sponsoring their arrival or forwarding food and clothing to help the homeless. At this historic meeting, which was chaired by Spiros Touloutsas and Minutes were taken by Vasilis Protomastorou, an organising Committee was elected to establish the Castellorizian Association and a Constitution Committee was appointed to draft a Constitution. This Committee comprised of Evangelos Stavrianos, Agapitos Economou, Elias Leondis, Vasilis Gemenis, Alekos Grivas and Malaxos Malaxou.
On 15 June 1924 the first Annual General Meeting was held at Lee House in Castlereagh Street and was attended by 133 Castellorizians who elected the first Committee comprised of Anastasios Finikiotis (President), Elias Leondis Secretary), Evangelos Gravas (Treasurer), Agapitos Economou, George Giorgiadis, Evangelos Stavrianos, Vasilis Photios, Vasilis Tsolakis & George Kailis. During the first year the Committee met at George’s Café in Pitt Street until the end of 1925. From 1925 to 1929 they met at the Café of Evangelos Stavrianos in Pitt Street and from 1929 to 1950 they met at the Café of Nicholas Confos in Park Street, from the new years day 1951 they established the Leski at 66 Oxford Street. The premises at 66 Oxford Street was a sub-lease of Professor Bolot’s old dancing school which he had in turn leased from the Sydney City Council. The Castellorizian Association of NSW and its successor Club entities remained there until October 1973 when the Club relocated to Kingsford.
The end of World War II brought a further wave of immigration to Australia including a large number of Castellorizians who had been left homeless as a result of the catastrophic damage to the Island during that war. Leo Leondis who served as President of the Association from 1945 to 1947 worked hard to continue the activities of the Association and to assist in new arrivals homes and work.
In January 1946 the Castellorizian Sports Club was founded under the guidance of Johnie Johns.
On 3 November 1952 under the patronage of the Association the Castellorizian Ladies Auxiliary was established with Maria Gounas as President, Nina Catis as Secretary and Irene Raftopoulos and Elephandia Koutsoukos as joint Treasurers and a committee of six women. In 1960 the Castellorizian younger set was established encouraged by the then president of the Association, Stathis Kondilios. Leo Leondis supported by a number of boards realised that for the Association to prosper it needed to have its own premises. Various sites were looked at in Crown Street, Darlinghurst and other places before they settled on the site of the old Odeon Theatre at Anzac Parade Kingsford which was acquired by the Association which by that time had incorporated.
For some years various development proposals for the new Club were examined, costed, but were not realised. It was recognised that for the Association to succeed and prosper it would need to have a Liquor Licence and for that reason a new legal entity known as the Castellorizian Brotherhood (War Memorial) Pty Limited was established with a view to obtaining donations which were tax deductible. This new club entity continued to conduct the former Association’s operation at 66 Oxford Street as a Leski and primarily provided services for male members. The Younger Set and Ladies Auxiliary would organise functions and fund raising activities at the Leski, particularly at Aprokries (beginning of lent), Palm Sunday and other special occasions.
In 1969 a much younger committee with qualifications and the necessary expertise to examine develop and pursue the proposal to build licensed club premises on the Kingsford land was elected to the Board under the Presidency of Perry Kailis. It was recognised early that the initial building plans proposed would not have been suitable and that the Club’s Constitution as it then existed would not comply with the requirements of the Clubs Registration Act and a new legal entity was needed..
The Castellorizian Club Limited (“Club”) was incorporated on 27 May 1970 and all of the undertakings of the Castellorizian Brotherhood (War Memorial) Pty Limited was transferred to that company. The first directors of that company were Perry Kailis, President, Nicholas James, Vice President, Angelo Hatsatouris, Secretary, Theo Stephen Theol Treasurer, Harold Anthony, Anthony George Confos and Anthony John Gemenis, Nicholas Hatzidoulis, and Con Vallianos.
The Committee then set about to arrange for new plans to be approved at Council, finance to be raised and to put the Club in a position that it would qualify to obtain apply for the liquor licence. There were many planning and zoning problems particularly with parking which had to be overcome. Warren Zamut an architect was commissioned to design the new club premises with its striking façade, and unique auditorium.
A number of cultural functions were organised by a specially appointed sub-committee known as the Social Committee comprising Angelo Hatsatouris, (Convenor) Katie Manettas, Katina Nicholas, Sandra Damianos, Patricia Stavrianos, Carmel Koutts, Gus Kazaglis, Bill Kazaglis, Maria Roditis, Anthony Kondilios and Terry Calacouras.
This Committee initiated the Greek dancing classes at the Leski, the management of which was under Nancy Caruana taken over by the Ladies Committee. A number of spectacular concerts, lectures, events and activities were held which not only raised money for the new Club but heightened Community interest and involvement in the Club’s activities, greatly supported the basis for the Club’s application for licence. The dancing classes were an outstanding success.
The success in establishing the Club was due to the enormous effort voluntary contribution of a small core of members, who over a number of years ensured that a number of complicated but necessary steps be followed to achieve their vision which was not universally supported and the teamwork that the founding Board was able to bring to the project at great personal expense despite opposition to the project. The applicant for the Conditional Certificate of Registration was Angelo Hatsatouris, who was the Club’s initial licensee. Final building and finance approval was obtained conditional upon the licence being granted. The Licence Application was challenged by the local hotels and other clubs and ultimately the Club received a Conditional Registration of the licence subject to the building being completed.
After the conditional grant of Registration under the Registered Clubs Act was given the Club was able to commence building. On 22 October 1972 the Foundation of the Castellorizian Club’s building at 440 Anzac Parade Kingsford were laid by the Greek Ambassador His Excellency Alex Stephanou under the presidency of Perry Kailis. An historic link between the island of Castellorizo and the new Club was created when a foundation stone cut from a rock from an old building on the island was laid as a statement of the strong cultural links strongly preserved by Castellorizians who had settled for many years in Australia, particularly in Sydney.
A copper capsule containing historic papers and the names of the earliest supporters of the Castellorizian Association and other memorabilia was placed in the Club’s foundations. On 6 October 1973 the new Club was officially opened to the members and their guests by the then Lord Mayor of Sydney, Nicholas Shehadie OBE and blessed by his Eminence Archbishop Ezekiel. The first Board of the new Club was Anthony Gemenis (President), Nick James (Vice President), Angelo Hatsatouris (Secretary), Theo Theol (Treasurer), Mark Conomos, Tasha Vanos, Con Vallianos, Harry Anthony & Michael A. Sergis.
The new Club which extended ordinary membership to females, and social and associate membership to all members of the Greek Community in general as well as the local community was warmly received and was outstanding success to the extent that within a few years it was able to acquire the building next door on Anzac Parade and two semi-detached cottages in Middle Street, which made it possible for expansion and enlarging the carpark.
In 1985 the Club was awarded the highest honour from Greece, when the Athens Academy awarded the members of the Club and former Association for the community work over the years and for the maintenance of the Greek culture. The Award was presented to the President Nick Paul by the President of Greece at an impressive ceremony in Athens. The Club in appreciation for this honour organised a Celebration Function and awarded Honorary memberships to Nicholas Stephanou from Athens, who initiated and supported the move to aware the Club by the Athens Academy and Lionel Bowen, who assisted the Club greatly, especially in its establishment.
On 21 May 1988 the Club’s new extended premises were opened with President Nick Malaxos and at a spectacular ceremony, Father John Evangelinidis blessed the newly extended Club and the popular Greek singer Kondolazos performed to a packed audience.
Since its opening in October 1973, the Castellorizian Club has been a landmark institution particularly amongst a younger generation of Australian Greek who were born here and abroad who participated in and enjoyed many of the Club’s activities services and amenities.
On 21 May 1996 a proposal initiated by former President and Councillor of Randwick City Council the Late John Calopedos, for a sister city relationship between the Randwick City Council and the Island Megiste (Castellorizo) was established in a special ceremony held on the island on the feast of St Constantine and St Helen, the patron saints of the island attended by Pavlos Panigiris, the Mayor of Megiste, Cr Chris Bastic, Mayor of Randwick, Cr John Procopiadis, Deputy Mayor of Randwick, with Sam Zervos and Con Theodore representing the Club. This ceremony established a specific cultural exchange recognising the links between the ancestral home of our members and the contribution made by our community to the City of Randwick established a cultural exchange and formal relationship between the two committees.
Over the years the Club has supported many charitable institutions and the work of the Castellorizian Club Ladies Committee has been legendary for their charitable endeavours. The Ladies Committee recognised a need for and assisted and supported the establishment of the Castellorizian Nursing Home which is a well respected Aged Care Facility at Kensington serving the needs of the community.