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Athanasios Avgouste was born on January 14th 1870 in Castellorizo, to George and Evdokia (nee Passaris). After migrating to Western Australia he was known as Arthur Auguste (and also as Peter Angelo). Arthur had five known siblings, George, Anastasis, Vangheli, Yiannis and Elizabeth (later Grigoriou).
Arthur departed Castellorizo after being smuggled out aboard a ship bound for Egypt when aged 17 years. He had been a crew member on a caique (a wooden fishing boat) which became involved in a skirmish with a Turkish customs vessel. The Turkish authorities were in pursuit of the crew and the contraband they were transporting. Arthur did not want to face the serious consequences of being caught so he fled to Egypt. In Egypt he was employed by the Suez Canal Authority and by 1888 was living with other Castellorizians in Port Said. He heard many stories about the foreign lands whilst at Port Said and on October 14th 1890 when aged just 20 years he obtained his passport and soon afterwards worked his passage to Broome in Western Australia. There he was employed in the pearling industry, then moved for a short time to Fremantle, prior to moving across to Adelaide.
Arthur’s cousins, the Manolas brothers, followed him to Adelaide. About 1896 Arthur returned to Western Australia and brought a property in East Fremantle. His Manolas cousins also moved across to Perth. At East Fremantle Arthur attempted to establish oyster beds in the river but found they would not breed. He then found it was possible to keep oysters supplied from other locations alive in the river, and so he established the Oyster Beds Restaurant at East Fremantle. Later he opened a restaurant in Barrack Street Perth where he also provided accommodation and food for newly arrived Greeks, prior to them becoming established in their new country.
In 1903 he returned to Port Said to marry Panaula Cominou, the daughter of Anastasios and Maria Komninos, and brought her to Perth in the same year. Their first child, Evdokia (Mrs Thanos Mirmikidis), was born in 1905, followed by Marcia (Mrs Lazarus Mandalis), George, Dorothea (Mrs Skevos Mavros), Anthony, Demetrios, Helene (Mrs Kyriakos Barris), Evangelene (Mrs William Thornett) and Athena, the last child born in 1921. Arthur became the first link in the migration chain from Castellorizo to Western Australia and by 1914 an estimated 120 had followed him to Perth.
In 1912 the Castellorizian Association (Brotherhood) of Western Australia was formed. Arthur was appointed the inaugural president, a position he held until 1925, followed by a second term from 1928 to 1932. His cousins, Dimitrios and Kyriakos Manolas, were also members of the inaugural committee in 1912.
Arthur and his family provided accommodation to Father Chrysanthos at their home in East Fremantle, where Greek Orthodox services were held in these early years. He also gave subsequent support to the Greek community’s first resident Priest, Father Iliou.
Arthur Auguste was a powerful community figure and did so much for the chain migration of Castellorizians to Perth. He encouraged others to join him in WA and he is to be acknowledged for setting the foundation for these early migration years. He is also acknowledged for his long term involvement and commitment to the Castellorizian Association of Western Australia. Arthur died in Perth on May 26th 1932, aged 62 years.
Megisti in the Antipodes - by John N Yiannakis
Greek Pioneers in Western Australia - by Reginald Appleyard and John N Yiannakis
Genealogical Research by Allan Cresswell. Megisti Messenger.
Megisti Messenger, Castellorizian Association Newsletter, vol. 2 no. 1, 1 February 2009, to which many thanks.
Charlesworth, Helene 1997, Small but Strong: a Pictorial History of the Town of East Fremantle 1897-1997, Town of East Fremantle: 22-23.
See also: the former Oyster Beds Restaurant at East Fremantle.
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