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Oral History

History > Oral History > Theo Kepreotes recalls the Kytherians of Gunnedah, NSW, in the 20th century.

History > Oral History

submitted by George Poulos on 22.11.2004

Theo Kepreotes recalls the Kytherians of Gunnedah, NSW, in the 20th century.

[From records maintained at the Water Tower Museum, Gunnedah.

For other Kytherian history re: Gunnedah, search under Gunnedah.

Written by Theo Kepreotes, [Maroubra], 1996(?) and reproduced with permission.

Theo was instrumental liasing with Gunnedah Council to have the Car Parks of Gunnedah named after Kytherian pioneers. For photographs, see separate entries.]

The majority of Gunnedah's early Greeks originated from the island of Kythera, in the Ionian Sea. Many of the early settlers migrated to Australia before the outbreak of World war I.

The first Greeks to come to Gunnedah were a pair by the name of Comino and Panaretos. They operated a cafe on the site where the present Acropolis building now stands.

Later they sold their premises to the Melitas brothers. In 1913, they built the Acropolis Cafe building.

The business was sold to my late uncle, Emmanuel Kepreotes, and his partner, Peter Veneris, in 1923.

Finally, in 1948, the Acropolis was sold to Peter Venardos, and the late, Theo Souris, (father of George Souris, MLA).

When I arrived in Gunnedah in 1937, the Kytherians were already operating several of the towns' cafes.

The White Rose, and Busy Bee cafes were being operated by the Zantiotis family, while the Moneterey was operated by Nick Soucis, and Theo Zaharias.

When I left Gunnedah in 1949, there were 90 Kytherians living and working in Gunnedah. A Church of England Church in Carrol (a neighbouring small town), was then converted to Greek Orthodox, and named St John.

Later a tragedy occurred. A young boy named George Souris drowned in the river, while Greeks were having a picnic day. (Christmas Day, 1952.) [See seperate entry for full account, including report of the Coroner's findings.]
The then mayor of Gunnedah, the late F. L. O'Keefe immediately commissioned the councils engineers to design and construct the municipality's swimming pool.

Finally, another Kytherian-Greek migrant was the late Jim Kepreotes, my father. Jim differed from the other Greeks. Instead of operating a cafe, Jim bought a property and began to farm it.

The property had been operated by R. J. Aitken, in the 1920's. It was worked by 40 Chinese migrants and was considered the largest tobacco growing plantation in Australia.

Jim purchased the property in 1933 and worked it until 1966. He sold it to the late Tom Study. The property is still owned and operated by the Study family.

Like his brother Emmanuel and his fellow countrymen, Jim was passionate in his love of Gunnedah and its people.

It is very evident that Gunnedah has enjoyed a rich social [and cultural] history. It is vital that this is documented, so that the information is avaialable to future generations.

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