submitted by Peter Makarthis on 25.02.2020
Kritharis and Frantzeskakis
A story set in Sandstone
Places – Karavas, Kythera and Q Station, North Head Sydney.
Time – 1914
Ship – RMS Orsova
Dramatis Personae – Konstantine Kritharis (1878 -1953)
Theodore Frantzeskakis (1898 -1941)
Two men from the village of Karavas on the island of Kythera carved their names on a sandstone platform above the Quarantine Station at North Head at the entrance to Sydney Harbour in March 1914. In doing so, Kon and Theo marked themselves in time and place.
Konstantine George Kritharis, the son of George and Anthousa Kritharis, was born at Karavas on 11th May 1878, being 36 years of age on arrival. Theodore Haralabos Frantzeskakis, the son of Haralabos and Stavroula Frantzeskakis from the same village was born on 24th August 1898 being 16 years of age on arrival. The difference between their ages suggests they may have been related with Kon in the role of chaperone.
Kon and Theo, together with at least eight other Greeks boarded the RMS Orsova at Port Said Egypt on 25th February 1914 for the passage to Sydney Australia. Passing through the port of Suez the following day they reached Colombo without incident on 7th March anticipating arrival in Sydney on 26th March.
A passenger for Perth Western Australia with a fever boarded the Orsova at Colombo and before arrival at Fremantle was diagnosed with a mild case of small pox. On the arrival at Fremantle on 17th March, with a yellow flag in the halyards, the Orsova anchored in the Gages and passengers were not allowed ashore. Quarantine staff boarded the Orsova and vaccinated passengers and crew that were not previously vaccinated. Fremantle passengers were disembarked and placed in quarantine at Woodman’s Point with the Orsova departing for Adelaide the same evening.
Similarly passengers for Adelaide were quarantined at Torrens Island on arrival on 21st March. Passengers for Melbourne were quarantined at Portsea on arrival 23rd March before sailing on to Sydney.
With the yellow flag flying the Orsova entered Port Jackson at 5:30pm on Thursday 26th March and anchored in Spring Bay at 6:00pm. Aboard for Sydney, were 37 passengers in first class, 77 in 2nd class and 150 in 3rd class plus Brisbane passengers, 9 in 2nd class and 108 in 3rd class; two hundred and sixty eight passengers in total. The following day 30 passengers who were vaccinated before departure from London were released to Circular Quay with the remainder sent ashore at the quarantine station at North Head to allow fumigation of the vessel to commence. Most would remain in quarantine until release on 4th April after nine days at North Head Quarantine Station.
Though confined to the precincts of the quarantine station Kon and Theo were free to roam the rugged terrain surrounding the lazaretto. The feeling of freedom would have been a welcome relief of the confined quarters in 3rd class and the limited time on deck during the twenty five day voyage from Port Said. Green grass in the grounds surrounded by native vegetation on the sandstone ramparts, the waters of Port Jackson lapping on a small sandy beach under an open sky would surely have been reminiscent of Agia Pelagia and Platea Ammos below the village of Karavas on the island of Kythera.
Climbing to the top a prominent sandstone outcrop dubbed the ‘Top Hat’, perhaps to obtain a better view of the locality, they found space on a platform to mark their arrival by carving their names and date of arrival.
On the 4th of April Kon, Theo and the other Greek men were taken to Woolloomooloo Bay from where they dispersed to Greek owned oyster saloons as waiters, kitchen hands and oyster shuckers.
Theo Frantzeskakis did not linger long in Sydney and after a month joined his brother James as an assistant in a fruit shop at West Maitland. He moved to Scone in 1916 and then to Merriwa in 1917. Theo was naturalized in 1920 when working at Nicholas Brothers in Merriwa.
Clearly Frantzeskakis did not roll off the English tongue and he later known as Theodore Franks
Theodore Frantzeskakis died in a private hospital at Waverley NSW 21st July 1941 aged 43 years. His funeral was held 23rd July 1941 at the Greek Cathedral of St Sophia, Dowling Street Moore Park and afterwards buried in Botany Cemetery (now Eastern Suburbs Memorial Park). Theo was survived by his wife Mary and son Paul.
Konstantine Kritharis worked in Broken Hill from 1914 to 1917 and moved to Brisbane. He moved to Sydney c 1927 and worked at the Sydney Fish markets as a fish cleaner. When he was naturalized in 1928he is recorded living at 283 Crown Street. Later he lived at Lidcombe until he was admitted to Tomaree Mental Hospital at Port Stephens where he died 10th June 1953. His funeral was conducted by a Greek Priest at Nelsons Bay where he was buried. His grave is unmarked. Konstantine never married and his only living relative in Australia, a brother ‘Archie’ Anastassi Kritharis at Inverell died in 1974.
The only mark of Konstantine Kritharis presence in Australia is in his own hand, carved in sandstone on the Top Hat, QStation, North Head Sydney, 1914.
Researched and written
Peter C. McCarthy ( aka ‘Σκουλανδρις’ Παναγιοτις Μακαρδις)
25 March 2020
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