Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to all.

Thank you for your interest in History and Heritage in the Leichhardt Local Government Area for 2014.



From The Team

Amie Zar, Alison Grellis, Garry Cousins and Ben Carter.



State Records News

State Receives Gift from 1800s Governor


View the Gallery

Book Launch Carmen Lavezzari’s autobiography “Memoirs of a Person of Interest.”

FILEF and Leichhardt Municipal Library invite you to the launch of Carmela (Carmen) Lavezzari’s autobiography “Memoirs of a Person of Interest”,
Thursday 27 November at 6.30 pm at the Library (Italian Forum Square).
Her memories, written in Italian with the editorial assistance of Gianfranco Cresciani, are accompanied with the English version translated by Claudio Marcello.
The book will be launched, at the presence of the author, by Cresciani himself – well known historian of the Italian communities in Australia
– who described it as “a powerful narrative documenting the vicissitudes of a “common”, yet extraordinary woman, at a troubled time in the history of our country”.
Carmela Lavezzari2

A Balmain Coalmine Worker who became an Oyster Saloon King.

Oyster Saloons

Oyster Saloon and Ham Shop, King William Street

Oyster Saloons were the turn of the century Australian Fish and Chip Shop. The Comino Brothers were prominent in establishing the industry.
Athanassio Comino (1844?-1897) and John Comino (1858?-1919), oyster merchants, were born on the Ionian island of Kythera (Cerigo), Greece, sons of Demetrio Comino, farmer, and his wife Agapy, née Menego. In 1873 Athanassio arrived in Sydney, probably as a crew member on a sailing ship from New Zealand. For a time he worked in the Balmain colliery, but by 1878 had started an oyster saloon at 36 Oxford Street. About 1882 he took up the lease of an oyster bed at Onions Point, at the mouth of the Lane Cove River, which he used to revive New Zealand oysters. But it was a short-lived, unremunerative enterprise and by 1886 Port Jackson was closed for oyster leasing. In 1884 he had leased 2000 yards (1828 m) of foreshore on the Evans River, on the north coast. That year John arrived in the Potosi and in 1885 applied for oyster leases on the Bermagui River. Despite fluctuations in the industry’s prosperity Athanassio remained in business. John was described as a mechanic in bankruptcy proceedings in 1892 when he was found to have unsecured liabilities of £160; he was discharged on 5 September 1895.

The Cominos had arrived at a time when the New South Wales oyster industry was unregulated, with unsuccessful attempts by the government to legislate for an orderly system. Gradually the method of dredging for natural oysters gave way to cultivation and organized harvesting. Athanassio reached a prominent place in the industry. He never married. Aged 53, he died of a strangulated hernia on 30 December 1897 at Darlinghurst, leaving an estate valued for probate at £5217 to John and to nephews and nieces.

Inheriting from Athanassio the title, ‘Oyster King’, John applied a formidable business aptitude to orderly expansion. In 1898 he was naturalized. With several others he was responsible for raising funds to erect the first Greek Orthodox Church in Australia, Holy Trinity Church, Surry Hills, where on 6 September 1901 he married Anna Phocas, born in Rhodes, Turkey; her father Seraphim Phocas officiated. At the time of his marriage John was living at Randwick; later he moved to Coogee. As chain migration brought more Kytherans, he was a mainstay of the Greek community in New South Wales, at the centre of a complicated web of family and business activities, owning and supplying restaurants, oyster saloons and fish shops. The Fisheries Act of 1902 reformed the oyster industry, forcing lessees to make improvements or suffer confiscation. Comino held numerous leases along the New South Wales coast. About 1906 he entered into partnership with three other large oyster merchants, Frederick John Gibbins, Charles Edward Woodward and John Moriarty, and the firm, known as Woodward, Gibbons & Comino, dominated oyster marketing in New South Wales.

In 1916, under the supervision and probably at the expense of Comino, Life in Australia was published. In the Greek language, it extolled the opportunities available to Greek immigrants and listed some of the 625 shops allegedly owned by Greeks in Australia ‘Apart from 5 shops owned by Cominos, ten others owned by different individuals traded under the name of Comino and it is probable that in some of them John Comino owned a share’. By 1919 there were ‘Comino’ oyster saloons in Parkes, Maitland, Armidale, Gunnedah, Moree and Katoomba. For a time all Greeks in New South Wales were commonly known as ‘Comino’.

John died of pneumonic influenza (Spanish flu) at Belmore Road, Randwick, on 21 June 1919, leaving to his wife and four sons an estate sworn for probate at £31,872. The Cominos were the pioneers of Kytheran migration to Australia and it is estimated that by the late 1930s well over 3000 had come, mainly to New South Wales, from this one Greek island.
Select Bibliography

C. A. Price, Southern Europeans in Australia (Melb, 1963)
Votes and Proceedings (Legislative Assembly, New South Wales), 1883-84, 11, 519, 559, 1885-86, 2, 901-02
Journal (Legislative Council, New South Wales), 1887-88, 4, 751-57, 821
M. P. Tsounis, Greek Communities in Australia (Ph.D. thesis, University of Adelaide, 1971)
bankruptcy papers (State Records New South Wales)
registers of certificates of naturalization, 1849-1904 (State Records New South Wales)
private information.

Citation details

Chris Cunneen, ‘Comino, John (1858–1919)’, Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1981, accessed online 20 November 2014.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 8, (MUP), 1981

Parramatta Heritage Street Project – What are your thought’s of Parramatta Road?

In light of the WestConnex proposal the changing face and use of Parramatta Road could change dramatically. Here at Leichhardt Council we have undertaken the task of photographing the Leichhardt Local Government Area side of Parramatta Road form Hawthorne Canal to Mallett Street Camperdown.

Photograph by Emilio Cresciani

Photograph by Emilio Cresciani – Parramatta Heritage Streetscape Project.

Parramatta Road has had a long and rich History as one of Sydney’s main artillery connecting the city to Parramatta, originally Sections of the current Parramatta Road were an Aboriginal walking track for the Dharug nation which resided in the area.

Parramatta Road was one pf the earliest colonial transport Routes in Australia. It linked the two original European settlements at Sydney Cove and Parramatta.

The Parramatta Road corridor also has a rich and diverse urban heritage host to iconic buildings with a rich history such as The Bald Faced Stag, Sydney’s oldest Pub opening in 1830 on the corner of Parramatta Road and Balmain Road.  It holds the record of having held a continuous license perhaps longer than any hotel in the Commonwealth.  Other Iconic Buildings include the Albert Palais, The Empire Hotel, The Annandale Hotel

Bald Faced Stag.

Bald Faced Stag C.1830 originally Colonial late Victorian Italianate. It has changed architecturally style four times. Now a two story brick structure with ornamented Parapet in the Inter War Free classical style.

The Albert Palais – The Grand Ballroom

Photograph by Emilio Cresciani

103 Parramatta Road The Empire Hotel

Nowadays The Empire Hotel is stop on QC Mark Tadeschi Eugeni Falleni walking tours.

Along the Parramatta corridor there are approximately 146 items on the State Heritage Register and 3747 statutory listed items on local environmental plans ore regional environmental plans.



Annandale Hotel 17 Parramatta Rd, Annandale NSW 2038

Book Launch and Author Talk 27 November 2014

Carmela Lavezzari2

Exhibition Opening : Cars Brides Pubs

Exhibition flyer

Crossing the Blue Mountains


Lewin Exhibition

History Week 2014 wrap up – WW1 walking tour Balmain

Both History Week Walking Tours were a great opportunity to explore the honour boards and memorials of Leichhardt and Balmain the weather was brilliant and an engaging group of attendees enjoyed the tour.

Balmain WW1 walking tour began with a tour of loyalty square which claims the fame of being the first memorial to be erected in the midst of WW1. It was unveiled on 23 April 1916 just before the first anniversary of the Gallipoli landing.

Stop 1. Balmain Loyalty Square

This is possibly Australia’s first memorial to WW1 soldiers, unusual because it lists only those killed in action prior to the involvement of the AIF on the Western Front in France.  It was unveiled on 23 April 1916 just before the first anniversary of the Gallipoli landing to record the names of soldiers form this district who have fallen in the service of the Empire. It was the subject of a a Balmain Council design competition in 1915.

A functional structure it was built as a drinking fountain with a circular base and steps of Bowral trachyte and a four sided superstructure of Pyrmont Sandstone.  Balmains dead 38 at the time of its completion are honoured on four marble tablets, below which are four bowls . It is interesting that on later honour roll honour in the Balmain Town Hall there were then 1500 names of serving soldiers.

memorialOur 2nd stop was at the Balmain Rowing Club which displays an honour roll with 73 names of Balmain Men who were members of the Balmain Rowing Club including 11 of which were killed in action including John Booth who lived at 54 Glassop Street, Balmain, Sydney, New South Wales and who enlisted on 16 March 1915.honorboard

john-booth-1Private John Booth was a shipwright of Balmain, Sydney, New South Wales was 28 years old when he enlisted at Liverpool, 16 Mar. 1915. He embarked from Sydney on board HMAT A35 Berrima, 25 June 1915 and served with the 20th Battalion, 5th Machine Gun Company A.I.F. at Gallipoli and in Egypt and France. He was killed in action in Belgium, Oct. 1917

JOhn Booth

His Diary can be found on the State Library NSW Website here

A full list of the men mentioned on the Balmain honour board can be found here.

Stop 3: St Andrews Church Balmain – The Soldiers Memorial Hall

St Andrews Congregational Board

St Andrews Presbyterian Honour Board

19 Men are recorded on the St Andrews Church honour Board, they were members of the congregation. Approximately 1300 Men from Balmain are recorded as enlisting for WW1 on the AIF Records, this figure is increased when navy and figures are added bringing it closer to 1800 men.

St Andrews WW1 Honour Board




Below are the details of three men listed on the honour roll.

Thomas Rodger MACNEE

Place of birth Balmain, New South Wales
Religion Congregational
Occupation Civil servant
Address ‘Currawinya’, Elliott Street, Balmain, New South Wales
Marital status Married
Age at embarkation 26
Next of kin Wife, Mrs Myra Kathleen Macnee, ‘Currawinya’, Elliott Street, Balmain, New South Wales
Enlistment date 16 September 1915
Rank on enlistment 2nd Lieutenant (Quartermaster)
Unit name 36th Battalion, Headquarters
AWM Embarkation Roll number 23/53/1
Embarkation details Unit embarked from Sydney, New South Wales, on board HMAT A72 Beltana on 13 May 1916
Rank from Nominal Roll Captain
Unit from Nominal Roll 36th Battalion
Recommendations (Medals and Awards) Mention in Despatches

Awarded, and promulgated, ‘London Gazette’ No. 30706 (28 May 1918); ‘Commonwealth Gazette’ No. 165 (24 October 1918).
Fate Killed in Action 12 April 1918
Age at death from cemetery records 29
Place of burial Heath Cemetery (Plot VIII, Row J, Grave No. 18), Harbonnieres, France
Panel number, Roll of Honour,
Australian War Memorial
Miscellaneous information from
cemetery records
Parents: James and Mary MACNEE; husband of Mrs M.K. MACNEE
Other details War service: Western FrontMedals: British War Medal, Victory Medal
                                                       John GOODSIR
Regimental number                                668
Religion Church of England
Occupation Bank clerk
Address Town Hall, Balmain, Sydney, New South Wales
Marital status Single
Age at embarkation 21
Next of kin Father, John Goodsir, Town Hall, Balmain, Sydney, New South Wales
Previous military service 44th Howitzer Batt
Enlistment date 19 June 1915
Rank on enlistment Private
Unit name 30th Battalion, C Company
AWM Embarkation Roll number 23/47/1
Embarkation details Unit embarked from Sydney, New South Wales, on board HMAT A72 Beltana on 9 November 1915
Rank from Nominal Roll Sergeant
Unit from Nominal Roll 30th Battalion
Fate Effective abroad (still overseas)


Robert Balmain MILNE

Regimental number 58608
Religion Presbyterian
Occupation Engineer
Address Balmain, New South Wales
Marital status Single
Age at embarkation 19
Next of kin Aunt, Jessy Milne, 5 Alexander Street, Balmain, Sydney, New South Wales
Previous military service 37th Field Company Army Engineers
Enlistment date 11 May 1918
Rank on enlistment Private
Unit name 1st to 15th (NSW) General Reinforcements
AWM Embarkation Roll number 23/111/5
Embarkation details Unit embarked from Sydney, New South Wales, on board A40 Ceramic on 22 December 1914
Embarkation details Unit embarked from Sydney, New South Wales, on board HMAT A18 Wiltshire on 19 June 1918
Embarkation details Unit embarked from Sydney, New South Wales, on board SS Feldmarschall on 19 June 1918
Rank from Nominal Roll Gunner
Unit from Nominal Roll 3rd Field Artillery Brigade
Fate Returned to Australia 6 September 1919
Miscellaneous details (Nominal Roll) *Noted Robert NR

History Week Events 2014 – Local call to Arms 1914 -1918

History Week1