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Michael Feros - a prominent man in Dorrigo

Updated: Jul 3

Michalis Firos was born circa 1895 in Mitata, Kythera. He was the son of Nikolaos Firos and his wife Vasilou. He had a younger sister Kerani.

 

He attended Chora High School from 1907 to 1909 and studied subjects such as Greek, mathematics, religion, history, geography, natural history, exercise as well as calligraphy and iconography and received good results with minimal absent days.


He or his family felt Kythera had no much future for a young boy, so he left is beloved homeland and sailed from Athens to Australia on 25 February 1911. He arrived in Australia not long later and was now known as Michael or Mick Feros. Upon his arrival he met a friend of his father and worked for him in a restaurant in Circular Quay. This is probably Nikolaos Aronis, a man famous for helping Kytherians get established in Australia by giving them jobs and lodgings. The hours were long being 6am to midnight, seven days a week, all for 5/- wages a week. On Wednesdays he finished work "early" at 4:30.


He then moved to Boggabri where he worked in a refreshment room with the same conditions as Sydney, but this time his wages were 7/6. After 18 months of this he returned to Sydney. He now worked at a restaurant opposite the Town Hall for one pound a week.


He left the busy city and travelled by ship to Coffs Harbour. After a ten-hour horse and buggy ride, he ended up in Bellingen. Here he developed a respiratory condition, and doctors advised him to find the clean air of Dorrigo. In 1918 he was the owner of a refreshment room in Bielsdown Street.


This business was very successful, and he purchased a large block of land in the middle of town. Tooth and Co, a famous Australian Brewery, were looking for a distributor in Dorrigo. They approached Mick to buy this land. He refused to sell it to them but told them that if they guaranteed a bank loan for him, he would build a hotel and sell their beer. The license was approved in 1923 and the hotel opened on 13 August 1925.

Hotel Dorrigo January 1827. Image out of copyright.

Mick wanted a Greek bride, so a mutual cousin arranged a marriage to Elene Hanioti. Very little is known about her. She was the eldest of the five girls and one boy of Anastasios Haniotis and Maria and was possibly born in Athens. Mick sent her an engagement ring and she soon arrived in Australia and presented him with a gold watch. Michael and Elene met three times and the marriage was confirmed and took place on 28 January 1929. They had four children.

Wedding photo of Mick Feros and Elene Hanioti. Image out of copyright.i

Michael was very involved in the community in Dorrigo. During his time there he was chairman, member or benefactor of many organisations including the Hospital Board, the Urban Committee, Dorrigo Bowling Club, National Park Trust (chairman for 18 years), Dorrigo Motors, and many other sporting clubs and associations. He was also the first guarantor of the Dorrigo Hyrdo-Electric Scheme which started building in 1922. Examples of sporting clubs he sponsored can be found in a previous blog here.


Mick never forgot Kythera which is evident as he would donate money for causes. For example, in May 1951 he donated £5 for construction of a motorway from Frilingianika to Avlemonas.


He died on 14 June 1969 at the age of 74 in Dorrigo, New South Wales, Australia and is buried in Dorrigo General Cemetery.

 

Elene died in Sydney 1989 and is buried in Macquarie Park Cemetery in North Ryde, plot GENERAL LAWN, M18, Grave 0059.


Bibliography

Historic Dorrigo Hotel brochure

Church of latter Day Saints - family-search.,org



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