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Kytherian Genealogy Project Rewrites Australia’s Kytherian History?

Updated: Nov 20, 2023

It has been believed for years that the first Kytherian to enter Australia was Manolis Kritharis born 8 July 1831 to Georgakis Kritharis and Chrisoula Manolesou. He arrived in Australia onboard the auxiliary steam ship "Great Britain" on 16 December 1871 and arrived in Melbourne, Victoria in February 1872. This does make him a very early Kytherian arrival in Australia. My research now indicates he may not be the first Kytherian to arrive in Australia!

I was reading through some old Kytherian newspapers and literally stumbled across an article that may change the history of Kytherians in Australia. This article had a history of Kytherian migration to Australia.

The article states that Haralambos Kritharis was living in Smyrna like so many Kytherians at the time. He decided to leave Smyrna and sail to Australia, arriving in Perth in 1854, 18 years before Manolis Kritharis. After a period, he was forced to leave Perth and he moved to Sydney where he thought he would have more success and a sounder future. Once settled, he decided to invite his nephew, Manolis Kritharis to join him in Australia. Upon receiving the invitation from his uncle, Manolis left for Sydney, arriving in February 1872, making him the second Kytherian to arrive in Australia, not the first as previously believed.

Circular Quay, Sydney, circa 1870-1880 where Haralambos Kritharis probably worked loading and unloading ships

Haralambos did not stop there. He then contacted fellow Kytherians living in Smyrna, explaining the opportunities in Australia. This included Athanasios Kominos and off to Australia he sailed. His success in Australia is the reason so many Kytherians travelled to the other side of the world to call Australia home.

The fourth very early immigrant mentioned in the article was Ioannis Stratigos, born 7 July 1839 to Dimitrios Stratigos and Gligoria Conomo in Milopotamos.

These four early Kytherian arrivals worked at the docks, loading, and unloading ships for three British pounds a month.

Much has been written about Athanasios Kominos turning this small wage from the docks into a thriving oyster business in Sydney. His success in Australia is the reason so many Kytherians travelled to the other side of the world to call Australia home. The other three men were not so successful. Ioannis Stratigos died a few years later in 1887 as he was felling a tree in Narrabeen, Sydney, becoming the first Kytherian to die in Australia. Very little is known about Manolis Kritharis, and nothing is known about Haralambos and his time in Australia. Unfortunately there is very little or no information about the other two men available that we have been able to find. Maybe more information will come to hand about these men and their story can continued to be told for generations to come.

There are several issues with the article. We do not know who wrote it and the accuracy of the information. The other issue is that the article does not mention the father of Haralambos, so it is unclear which Haralambos this is. It does say that Manolis, the second Kytherian to enter Australia is his nephew, but Manolis does not have a direct uncle named Haralambos Kritharis. The article was written in 1926, many decades after the fact, so it may have been assumed he was a relation just because the surnames were the same. Either way, there are only two Haralambos Kritharis in our files that are possibly this man. One was Haralambos Kritharis born 29 July 1834 to Vretos Kritharis and Kerana Katsouli. It is known he applied for a passport to travel to Smyrna in 1851, potentially giving him a few years living in Smyrna before moving to Australia, but he was married in Kythera in 1860 and was having children in Kythera up until 1876, so he is not the Australian immigrant.

The other Haralambos is the brother of Manolis, the second Australian emigrant. This is the likely first Kytherian Australian. He was born about 1839. This makes him 20 years old when he arrived in Australia, but it is very possible he was sent as a teenager to Smyrna then he moved to Australia as a very young man. Our records have no other details other than his birth. He is listed with his family in the 1844 census, but not in the 1849 census. He had either died or left the island between these two censuses. This looks promising.

Just to confuse the issue, Manolis Kritharis did have a direct uncle named Haralambos Manolesos on his mother’s side. The only record found for this man was his baptism listing in the local church register. He is not in the 1844 or 1849 census. He either died or left the island before 1844. With the article being written so much later, maybe the author assumed the surname was Kritharis as it was his uncle, not thinking that it may be a maternal uncle with a different surname. Anything is possible. No records for a Haralambos Manolesos have been found in New South Wales as yet.

Another probability is Haralambos arrived in Australia a lot later than the article suggests. Eighteen years seems like a very long time to wait to tell people about the opportunities in Australia, but granted he did spend time in Perth before moving to Sydney. If this is the case, then we can be certain that Haralambos is the brother of Manolis.

New leads we are following will hopefully help me uncover the information to prove that Haralambos did come to Australia in 1854 making him the first Kytherian to do so and verify which Haralambos the article refers to. Until then, we cannot be sure exactly who the first Kytherian was to touch Australian soil.

Haralambos thus may have been a real Kytherian trailblazer. If we can prove that he was indeed the first to arrive and tell his fellow Kytherians in Smyra about the potential in Australia would Athanasios Kominos have come to Australia? Without Athanasios Kominos would the Kytherian presence in Australia be what it is today?


Φωνη των Κυθηρον newspaper

For exact citation please contact me here .

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