An historical timeline of Ithaca
Ithacan migration to Australia
4000-3000 BC- First inhabitants appeared on the Island.
3000-2000BC- From excavations carried out, at or around the Pilikata sight, as well as the Loizos Cave, in Northern Ithaki, we find that the original inhabitants were indigenous Greeks.
1500 BC- The Mycenaean period, the whole Island was inhabited, and proclaimed the capital of Cephalonia.
1194-1184 BC - The Trojan wars.
1174 BC- Ulysses returns to Ithaki.
1000 BC- Ithaki reached a high point, and it was called “The Kingdom of Ithaca”. It included the entire Ionion Islands, as well as parts of mainland Acarnania.
500 BC- the population declined, due to soil degradation, and was forced mainly to inhabit the Northern part of the island, which was still cultivated.
180 BC, Ithaki was part of the “Roman province of Illyria”.
Around this period, the port or harbour of Polis or Jerusalem was built, situated beneath the village of Stavros.
967 AD- as a result of an earthquake, Polis or Jerusalem, sunk into the sea. Old foundation remnants are still evident, at a depth of approximately 3 metres from the surface.
1086 AD- we have evidence of the first pirates on the Island.
1185 AD- Ithaki was conquered by the Normans.
1200 AD- the Island was ceded, by the Normans, to the Orsini family.
The Orsini family remained rulers until 1357, after which the king of Naples handed it over to the Tocco family. Establishment of the villages of Old Anoghi, (above Anoghi), and Aghia Kyriaki (near Exoghi).
1479 -the Turks plundered and partially destroyed Ithaki, along with the rest of the Ionion Islands.
1502-1503-Many Lefkadians inhabit the Island.
1504- The Venetian senate at this stage, granted land as well as no taxes, to whomever wished to remain or return to the Island, in an attempt to stabilise its population. Many people took up this offer, most from the mainland of Greece, which was suffering from the Turkish occupation.
1548- Three new villages are established on Ithaki, namely, Anoghi, Stavronikion (Exoghi), and Paleohora, whereby it is alleged that approximately sixty families were living.
1569- Ithaki was fortified for the first time. Population increases to 10,000 inhabitants.
A degree of opulence among the inhabitants emerged during the turn of the 17th century, with massive land cultivation, and establishment of a commercial fleet, which carried out trade throughout Europe. The Ithacan fleet took part in all battles for liberation from the Turks up until 1821.
1797- French take over the Ionion Islands, but hold them for only one year.
1798-1799-Russians and Turks succeeded the French, and a 14 member senate governed until 1807.
1807- French rule returned for another two years.
1809- The United Kingdom takes over the rule of the Ionion Islands.
1815- Under the Treaty of Paris, Ithaca became a state of the United States of the Ionian Island, a protectorate of the British Empire.
1821- During the Greek-Turkish revolution,many Ithacans become members of the “Friendly Society” (Filiki eteria). They took active rolls in its activities, and offered refuge, on Ithaki, to fugitive Greeks from the mainland. Otto of Wittelsbach, Prince of Bavaria, was chosen as the first King of Greece. He reigned from 1821-1863. He was overthrown in a revolution.
1829- Many Ithacans seek employment at sea, on British ships.
1845- Gradual emigration of Ithacans to Rumania takes place.
1850- Discovery of gold in Australia.
Between 1850 and 1871, the population of Melbourne grew from 70,000 to 1.7 million.
1853- One of the first Ithacans to arrive in Australia was Andreas Lekatsas (Lucas). It is alleged that he jjumped ship and disembarked in Melbourne to join the gold rush epidemic in Victoria. He is part of the gold diggers of Ballarat, living in the district tent city, and takes part in the Eureka stockade in 1854. (Some documents have him arriving in 1845).
Another was George Paxino who subsequently resides in Ballarat and operates a barber shop.
1862- Population of Ithaki peaked at 14,600 inhabitants. This over population forces its inhabitants to seek alternative greener pastures for their survival. A massive migration to Rumania takes place. King George 1st reigns in Greece up until 1913. He was assassinated.
1864- Under the 1864 Treaty of London, Ithaca, along with the remaining six Ionian islands, was ceded to Greece as a gesture of diplomatic friendship to Greece's new Anglophile king,England returned the Eptanesian Islands to Greece, on 21st May.
1886- Word circulates among the villages of Ithaki about the discovery of gold in Kalgoorlie, Australia. A number of Ithacans take the chance to emigrate, seeking their fortunes in the distant gold fields of Australia. Young Ithacans like the Lekatsas brothers Marinos and Antonios, as well as George Morfesis and many more disembarked in Melbourne, and established themselves as successful businessmen. They prospered in real estate development, cafes, and in a variety of retail and wholesale food establishments.
1871-According to census there were 19 women and 127 men born in Greece living in Victoria.
1894- Antonios Ioannis Gerasimos Lekatsas (Antony John Jereos Lucas), changed name by deed pole in 1903 when he became naturalised, established the first Greek café named “The Town Hall Café” in Swanston street Melbourne. He became an Honorary Greek Consul General for Australia 1921-1925, and between 1931 until his death in 1946, was the Greek Consul for Victoria.
1896- First Greek Orthodox priest arrives in Australia, Archimandrite Dorotheos Bakaliaros.
1897 - “The Greek Orthodox Community of Melbourne and Victoria” was established, mainly organised and controlled by Ithacans of Melbourne.
1898 - First Greek Orthodox priest arrived in Melbourne, Father Athanasios Kantopoulos
1899 - First afternoon Greek school operated in Chalmers Hall, Gipps street East Melbourne.
Early part of the 20th century, l immigration from Ithaki into Melbourne takes place.
1901- Australia becomes a Federation on 1st January.
First Greek Orthodox Church “Evangelismos” was erected and established in Victoria street East Melbourne. Church is now heritage listed.
1911-12 - Ithacan men, living in Australia, decided return to Greece to join in the war effort in the Balkan Wars.
1915 - Nearly all of the cafés in Melbourne’s CBD were owned and operated by Ithacans.
1916 - The Ithacan Philanthropic Society “The Ulysses” was established; housed in the Michaels building, corner of Elizabeth and Lonsdale streets in Melbourne. At this stage the membership of the society was restricted to men only, who were citizens of Ithaca, and their descendants. First president was Antonios Ioannis Gerasimos Lekatsas later known as Antony John Jereos Lucas.
First Anti Greek riots took place in Kalgoorlie.
1917 - First AGM of the Ithacan Society was held on 4th March.
1918 - First picnic of the Ithacan Society, was held on 24th March, and the first Ithacan Ball on 23rd April.
Society decided to expand their footprint in Australia and established representatives at every capital city for its promotion and expansion. Name of the Society was changed to: 'Philanthropic Society of Ithacans in Australia “The Odysseus” incorporated in Melbourne'. A new Society stamp was created to reflect the change.
1919-Due to an influenza epidemic, it was decided to cancel the Ithacan second annual picnic, as well as limit gatherings at our club rooms for a two month period, being from January through to April.
1924- Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Australia and New Zealand was established, controlled by the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople under the auspices of Metropolitan Christoforos Knitis of Serres.
1935-A motion was carried allowing the wives and daughters of Ithacans to become members of the Society. Constitution, which was written in Greek, was updated to reflect this change.
1940- Ithacan men, living in Australia, enlisted into the Australian Defence forces.
1944- An appeal was launched by the Society to aid war victims on Ithaca.
Our constitution was translated from Greek into the English language by Nikiforos Lekatsas.
On the 5-6-1944 our Society was registered as a Company Limited by Guarantee. The registered name being: Ithacan Philanthropic Society “The Ulysses”
The only article waived in the constitution, prior to it becoming a company, was the one stating “that the wives and daughters of Ithacans become Active Members of the Society”. This motion was presented and voted in the affirmative at the AGM held on 1-9-1935.
1945- First fortnightly club room family dances were established, and run until 1957.
1947- Spiros Deftereos, an Ithacan residing in Melbourne, represented the Greek wrestling team at the London Olympics in 1948. IPS raised funds through an appeal to send Mr Spiros Deftereos to the Olympic Games in London.
1953- Earthquake appeal was launched to assist Ithacan earthquake victims.
1956- Property was purchased at 329 Elizabeth street Melbourne, by the Ithacan Philanthropic Society “The Ulysses”.
1957- Debentures were issued by the Society to raise funds for the construction of the Society’s new building at 329 Elizabeth Street, Melbourne. Construction began on Society’s new building.
1958 -Newly constructed building “Ithaca House” was completed on this site.
1959- Metropolis of Australia and New Zealand was elevated to Archdiocese, and Metropolitan Ezekiel promoted to Archbishop.
1970- New Zealand Orthodox church was separated from Australia, and named Metropolis of New Zealand.
1974- First publication of our “Odysseus” newspaper, by Stathis Raftopoulos.
1975- Stylianos Harkianakis becomes the new Archbishop of Australia.
1978- IPS decided to redeem all debentures issued during 1957.
1982- Stathis Raftopoulos, received a Member of the British Empire (MBE) award, for services rendered to the Greek Community.
1985- Women were now permitted to become “Active Members” of the Ithacan Philanthropic Society “The Ulysses”, provided that they fulfilled the criteria, set out by the constitution.
1988- Panoyiannis Raftopoulos proposed that a bursary be granted by the Society to the two highest ATAR score VCE recipients, being children of members of our Society. This bursary was for one year and included a $500 monetary prize plus a gift.
Evangelismos Church celebrates 100 years.
3 April 2005- Launch of the Ithacan Cook Book compiled by the Ithacan Historical Society.
4 April 2005- Fire broke out on the first floor of our premises at 329 Elizabeth Street, Melbourne.
16 June 2005- Major building renovations took place at our premises, including newly renovated club rooms, on the second floor, and the installation of a 20 person lift.
9 April 2006-Newly refurbished club rooms were opened for the first time to our members and friends.
29 May 2006- Ladies Bingo sessions commenced.
6 October 2008- The name “Ithaca” was included among the “migrant arrival” section on the Sandridge Bridge over the Yarra River.
1 June 2009-Lula Black was elected as the Historical Society’s President.
3 August 2009- A handicraft workshop called “Penelope’s Loom” was established.
2011- As part of the IPS Bursary program Alex Zotos provided two awards for young female Ithacans in memory of his mother, the late Elly Lukas. The first award of $2,000 for the female student with the highest ATAR score; the second award, a course at the Elly Lukas Beauty Therapy College valued at $10000 for a female student showing an aptitude for beauty therapy.
2012- The IPS Bursary Awards were re-named as follows: The Panoyiannis Raftopoulos Year 12 Award valued at $1,000 for the two students (male and female) with the highest ATAR score; and the “The Ithacan Philanthropic Society” Year 12 Award valued at $300 awarded to all other applicants.
Professor George Paxinos AO was the recipient of the HACCI Lifetime Achievement award; and was elected into the prestigious Athens Academy as a foreign member in the Positive Sciences category.
Members of our Society, for the first time, laid a wreath at the Australian-Hellenic War Memorial Royal Botanic Gardens, on the 28th October OHI (OXI) celebrations.
2013- The IPS becomes a sponsor of the Australian-Hellenic War Memorial Foundation.
3 March 2013- Launch of the publication “Passage to Ithaca” by Mr George Paxinos
25 March 2013- In celebration of Greece’s liberation from the Ottoman Empire in 1821, nembers of the IPS, for the first time, laid a wreath at the Australian-Hellenic War Memorial, located at the Kings Domain, Birdwood Ave.
21 April 2013-Mr Alex Zotos was bestowed an “Honorary Membership” of our Society.
25 April 2013- Members of our Society took part in the Anzac Day march for the first time.
10 November 2013- Kyriakos Amanatides launched his book, published by Tsonis publishers, with the title: “Stathis Raftopoulos MBE-A Contemporary Ulysses in the Antipodes”
22 November 2013- Professor Emeritus George Dracoulis received the “HACCI Lifetime Achievement Award” for his contribution in the field of “Nuclear Physics Research”.
15 December 2013-His Excellency the Ambassador of the Hellenic Republic in Australia Mr Harris Dafaranos accompanied by his wife Mrs Eva Dafaranos were our honoured guests at the IPS 2013 member’s Christmas Luncheon.
14 November 2014-Mrs Kaliope Paxinos received the HACCI “Community Services Award” for 2104.
18 November 2014-The family of the late Mr Stathis Raftopoulos MBE, past president and honorary life member of our Society, has made available a $2,000 bursary, to be allocated to a male student, the son of a member of our Society, who has completed his VCE with the highest score (85 and over), among the male bursary applicants for that year. The award, “The Stathis Raftopoulos Memorial Award”, will be made available by the Raftopoulos family for the ensuing three years.
21 November 2015- Professor George Andrew Varigos received the HACCI “Professional Excellence Award” for 2015.
2016- Our first IPS centenary (1916-2016).
14 February 2016- IPS Centenary Picnic took place at the Ferny Creek Recreation Reserve.
6 March 2016- IPS celebrated the Centenary Opening at “Swanston Hall” at the Melbourne Town Hall and launch of A J J Lucas documentary 'Out of the Earth - The Life and Times of A J J Lucas'
12 March 2016- Professor George Paxinos AO presented his first novel “Kat eikona” at the Greek Orthodox Community of Melbourne and Victoria.
16 October 2016- The centenary publication, The Ithacans, is launched at the clubrooms by Gorge Megalogenis. The publication written by George Paxinos and designed by James Raftopoulos commemorates the founding of our Society 100 years ago and celebrates the presence of Ithacans in Australia for more than 150 years.
19 November 2016- 'Our Odyssey - Ithacans in Melbourne' exhibition was launched at the The Immigration Museum. The exhibition which ran for six months explored the challenges faced by the earliest Greek migrants from Ithaca, and celebrated the achievements of the Ithacan community which continue to enrich the Melbourne of today.
6-9 July 2017 - Immigration Museum school holiday program – 'Gods, Myths and Mayhem' - held as part of our ‘The Ithacans in Melbourne’ exhibition.
21 July 2017- Steve Kyritis OAM launched his book, 'Greek Australians in the Australian Armed Forces Kokoda - New Guinea World War II'. Special guest of honour was James 'Jim' Scott (Sikiotis), one of the oldest surviving Greek Australian war veterans of this campaign.
20 September 2018- The inaugral 'Ithacan Philanthropic Awards for Academic Achievement Lykeio Ithakis' were presented in the Ithaca. The awards were proposed by the IPS Centenary Working Party as a gesture to the youth of the island to commemorate the IPS centenary. The Executive committe established two awards valued at 1000 euros each to be award to the highest achieving students in the Year 12 Panhellenic Examinations in both the 'General' and 'Vocational' streams.
26 September 2018-Professor Ross Hector Andrew elected to the life-time position of Honorary Fellow of Royal College of Physicians (RCP), London.
October 2018 - Ithaca House celebrates 60 years.