Monday, 2 November 2015

Lithuanians in the Australian Outback

Lithuanians, like most migrants to Australia, tended to settle in the capital cities or adjacent coastal fringe areas. There were some, however, who pursued their dreams in the more remote parts of the country. For some, the mining centres of Kalgoorlie (Western Australia) and Broken Hill (New South Wales) were favoured destinations which usually offered better pay, but more demanding conditions. A few others found opportunities even further afield.

This blog has already looked at some early Lithuanian migrants who spent longer or shorter periods in the outback, for example:

  • the Lithuanian Jewish families at Broken Hill (see my post of 19 October 2015);
  • the Lithuanian Anzacs who enlisted while working in remote locations of Australia, including William KALIN/KALINOVSKY/KALINAUSKAS at Cloncurry and John LOVRIAEN at Kalgoorlie (23 April); 
  • Father Paul ZUNDOLOVICH at Wilcannia and White Cliffs (31 August);
  • Charles ASHE/ Kazys ASTRAUSKAS at Kalgoorlie (29 June); and
  • Bruno GREITSCHUS at Offham Siding, Goolburra Station (16 April).

Here are two more stories of the men who settled in outback Australia:

Mykolas/Michael REPECKA - Mount Isa, Queensland

The township of Mt Isa, 1958
from the collection of the National Archives of Australia
 (NAA: A1200, L27995))
National Archives of Australia records indicate that Mykolas was born in 1877 at Kurkliai, near Ukmergė, and that he was later a resident of Vladivostok before arriving in Australia (probably around 1910). He settled in Queensland and in 1928 lodged an application to sponsor another Lithuanian, Julius CESIUNAS, to Australia. In 1941 he lodged a notice in the Townsville Daily Bulletin (30 July, 1941) advising his intention to seek naturalisation; he stated that he was a Lithuanian national who had been resident in Australia for 31 years. His naturalisation certificate was issued in March 1942, noting that he was a 64 year old labourer living at Coal Stage, Mt Isa.

Electoral Roll records for 1963 and 1968 show Mykolas in his later years as a resident at the Salvation Army Home, Riverview (Ipswich, near Brisbane).

Joseph MANJIKE - Broken Hill, New South Wales

The Barrier Miner (a Broken Hill newspaper) of 27 September 1929 carried a notice inserted by Joseph Manjike stating that he had been born at Vilnius, was of Lithuanian nationality, had been a resident of Australia for 18 years, and now intended to apply for naturalisation. He gave his address as 117 Chloride Street, Broken Hill. National Archives of Australia records throw a little more light on him: he was born on 28 January 1873 in Vilnius, his father Michael was a Lithuanian, he arrived at Brisbane on 20 August 1911 from Manchuria, and prior to settling in Broken Hill he had lived for short periods of time in Brisbane, Bundaberg, Sydney, Melbourne, and Adelaide. At the time he applied for naturalisation in 1929 he was a miner with South Broken Hill Mining Co and was aged 56.

Joseph had married Mary Antonoff (who had been born in Russia) in 1918 in Victoria and together they had brought up two girls and a boy in Broken Hill. However the Depression of the 1930s hit Broken Hill hard; many people lost their jobs and were forced to seek work elsewhere. That is probably why the 1937 electoral roll shows Mary Manjike still at 117 Chloride Street, but not Joseph; he was working at the Wurang Unemployed Wood Camp, 183 miles from Broken Hill, which was a community project established to cut and supply wood to unemployed families in Broken Hill. Sadly, the Barrier Miner of 23 July 1937 reported that Joseph Manjike was found dead at the camp the previous morning. He was 64 years of age and was buried in the Roman Catholic section of the Broken Hill cemetery; the Barrier Miner recording that the funeral "is expected to be largely attended by members of the Unemployed Union, who have been requested to march".  

The NSW Births Deaths and Marriages record lists Joseph Manjike's death and records his parents' names as Nicholas and Marcella.  

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