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The Epic Journey Continues: On March 11 2012, the descendants of George Tramountanas, the first Greek settler to arrive in South Australia celebrated the 170th anniversary of his arrival in 1842.

After a meandering journey since the idea was first raised in 2008, the event moved from concept to fulfilment. The Tramountanas-North Family first conducted a commemorative service at the Colton Cemetery and later presented their Family History Display at Elliston.

The three-year passage is miniscule compared to an impressive 170 year history. However, this fact is infinitesimal in contrast to the 3000-year epic journey since the ancient Greek civilisation or the 1,700 years of contemporary Greek history and culture as we know it today.

The Greek Orthodox Community of SA [GOCSA] was instrumental in providing an impetus for an emergent Tramountanas-North Family. After conducting research for the Community’s book The Story of a Community published in 1990, Dr Michael P Tsounis recounted the pioneering effort of George and Lydia Tramountanas-North. A demonstrable impact was manifested in many ways. One recurring theme within the Greek community was that it revived the lingering desire to discover the migratory roots of the first Greek in South Australia.

Some twenty two years later, seen from a dispassionate perspective, this event is an amazing and a remarkable journey.

11 March 2012: At Colton Cemetery: Anglican Minister, The Rev. Ruth Buxton with Tramountanas North family and attendees at Colton Cemetery. What was the motivation force of today that caused fourth, fifth and now sixth generation Tramountanas-North descendants to make what may be described as a ‘sacred pilgrimage’?

Why did some 80 family members and friends attend the gravesite commemorative service at Colton Cemetery? Did the 300 Tramountanas-North family, friends and community participants recognise their kinship and common bond as they celebrated the Family History Display at Elliston? This was not an event which was driven by a religious fervour or creed, but one that was intrinsic and represented a personal belief with a commitment to discover and acknowledge one’s origins.

This permitted each individual to reconnect and rekindle the faith that prevailed at the time George and Lydia Tramountanas set out on their epic journey to South Australia’s West Coast.

From a Hellenic point of view the realisation of the Tramountanas-North dream touched the marrow of our collective Greek heritage. The fact that the Tramountanas’ journey has continued bears testimony to a deep-rooted culture with values founded on a humble belief in humanity.

With such a culture, one dared to struggle, indeed, dared to survive against the inhospitable isolation; and without the scarcest sustenance an enduring Hellenic character needed. This story is worth telling.

George Tramountanas was known to have improvised on the arts and took pride when he celebrated aspects of his heritage. In union with Lydia, they both flourished with a ‘can-do-will-do’ attitude. A self-taught person, he was well-learned and revelled in his resourcefulness and self-sufficiency.

Over the past 170 years the thread of the Tramountanas fabric continues to sustain the family as it was first constituted and bonded by the personage of both George and Lydia Tramountanas-North.

The thread is now being re-spun into a yarn that has not only embraced the original but an underlying family transformation that continues to evolve through the Tramountanas-North descendants.

In 1990 the GOCSA had the foresight to capture the significance of George Tramountanas’ contribution to the Greek Australian community. Our imagination remained open to explore the challenges to endow the Tramountanas ideal to struggle and thrive in the face of adversity. One living legacy of this determination and tenacity is the George Tramountanas Olive Grove at Colton that has taken root - to seek out sustenance through a limestone escarpment. It remains a living embodiment of the ideal of life’s reward through honest human endeavour.

The collective journey of the Tramountanas-North family continues. The T-NA was formed by descendants, family members and friends and incorporated in November 2008.

John Lesses*

Adelaide, South Australia


Ref: 1. Dr MP Tsounis The Story of a Community 1990 The Griffin Press, Adelaide, SA

*JK Lesses AM JP is a retired SAIRC and AIRC Industrial Relations Commissioner and is a member of both the GOCSA Executive and T-NA Managing Committee.




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