Croatian Symbol/Hrvatski Greb: courtesy of
Tomislav Mikulic

Croatian Genealogy Newsletter No. 11, January 2005

Croatians in Australia: pioneers, settlers and their descendants

Croatians in Australia: pioneers, settlers and their descendants by Ilija Šutalo traces the history of Croatian settlement in Australia from the 1800s to the present. The main focus of the book is Croatian pioneers - almost without exception single men on arrival - who settled in Australia by 1890. Dr IIija Šutalo identifies the communities of Croatian pioneers living in Australia in the second half of the nineteenth century and describes their significant contribution to the development of the wine, fishing and mining industries.

The first wave of Croatian migration to Australia was precipitated by the news of the discovery of gold in 1851. Most of the new arrivals became miners, working on the goldfields with varying degrees of success. After spending time on the goldfields some became seamen, labourers, fishermen, publicans, vignerons, farmers and storekeepers. Croatian pioneers worked and held mining claims together, ran businesses together, socialised and lived together. Often very resourceful in the quest to succeed, many Croatian pioneers had more than one occupation.

Between 1891 and 1945 the number of Croatian-born in Australia increased dramatically, especially the number of Croatian-born women. These settlers were better organised and founded many Croatian clubs which supported social and cultural activities. Large numbers of Croatian settlers arrived after the Second World War. They established Croatian community halls, sporting venues, Catholic parishes, Croatian language schools and folkloric groups. Dr Ilija Šutalo shows that many Croatians and their descendants subsequently made significant contributions to Australian society in sports, arts and politics.

This book shows for the first time that there were communities of Croatian pioneers living in Australia in the second half of the nineteenth century and describes their contribution to Australia’s development – which was significant in the wine, fishing and mining industries. This account also summarises the history of Croatian settlement in Australia to the present. In this study, a pioneer in the Australian context is defined as a settler who arrived in Australia by 1890.

Croatians in Australia is the first book to have multiple photographs of Croatian pioneers who settled in Australia prior to 1890. There are over 150 photographs of Croatian pioneers in Australia presented in the book which forms the largest collection of photographs of Croatian pioneers in Australia. The book lists over 850 known Croatian pioneers in Australia, their birthplace, year of arrival, and place of residence and occupation in Australia until 1890.

Although the main topic of the book is Croatian pioneers of Australia, there are frequent references to Croatians in other settler societies, including United States of America, New Zealand, Canada, South Africa and some South American countries. Croatians in these countries participated in similar activities, occupations and had experiences similar to those in Australia. The comparisons with Croatians in other countries are given when they throw light on the experiences of Croatians in Australia. For example, each of these countries had a large influx of immigrants and gold rushes. The general history of Croatian settlement to the United States is also summarised in the book.

Croatians were present at the both the discovery of gold in the Australia and the United States. Croatian pioneers formed mining companies together, formed fishing communities and were highly successful publicans or saloon keepers. Slavonian gold mining companies were formed by Croatians in Australia and the United States. Often Croatian barques that frequented Australia in the nineteenth century came via the United States.

Some Croatian families lived both in Australia and the United States. For example, the Zan (Zaninovich) family from the island of Hvar had broom factories in the United States and Australia. The highly distinguished Croatian soprano, Ilma De Murska (Ema Pukšec), from Ogulin, caused a great sensation when she toured the United States and Australia.


    Background • Researching early Croatian settlement in Australia • Why so little is known about these Croatian pioneers’ lives • Interviews with descendants • History of Croatian migration

  2. GEOGRAPHICAL AND POPULATION BACKGROUND • Early Croatian settlers in Australia • How many Croatian pioneers came to Australia? • Origins and family background • Factors influencing migration • How the Croatian pioneers came to Australia • Statistics on Croatian pioneers and their family life

  3. PATTERNS OF EARLY CROATIAN SETTLEMENT • Croatian settlements across Victoria • Geelong, Portarlington and Western district • Melbourne and surrounding district • Castlemaine district • Wedderburn and Inglewood district • Ballarat, Maryborough and Bendigo district • Redcastle, Costerfield and Goulburn Valley district • North-eastern Victoria, Woods Point and Gippsland district • Croatian settlements across Australia • Mobility

  4. PIONEER CONNECTIONS AND COMMUNITIES • Background • Multiple Croatian connections and friendships • Rites of passage • Croatian mining and business partners • Croatian communities • Societies, clubs and newspapers • Connections with the Catholic Church • Pioneer women • Poverty and disillusionment

  5. PIONEERS ON THE GOLDFIELDS • Early Australian goldfields • Gold discoveries by Croatian pioneers • Dalmatia and Sclavonian mines • Mining partners and mines named after Croatians • Connections between mining communities • Impact of Croatians on the goldfields

  6. PIONEER SEAMEN AND FISHERMEN • Prior seafaring experience • Croatian seamen visiting Australia • The wreck of the barque Gange • Warships • Croatian pioneer fishermen • Croatian pioneer seamen • Rescues and storms

  7. PIONEERS WITH HOTELS, WINERIES AND FARMS • Antonio Radovick, ‘Father of Korumburra’ • Hotels in gold mining towns • Metropolitan hotels • Banquets, balls and dances • Trojano Darveniza’s Excelsior Vineyard • Other Croatian pioneers with wineries • Croatian wines at Australian international exhibitions • Croatian pioneers involved in farming

  8. PIONEER BUSINESS ENTERPRISE • Antonio Buzolich • Natale Vuscovich • Fortunato Poschich • Mattio Orlovich • Mattio Marassovich • Kosmos • John Terdich • John Sersic • George Bathols • Prospero Stanich

  9. BEYOND PIONEERS 1891–1945 • Descendants’ contributions to Australian society • Descendants who fought for Australia • Enemy aliens and internment • Interwar Croatians and strikes • Clubs and community activities

  10. POST-SECOND WORLD WAR SETTLEMENT • Overview of Croatians in Australia today • Post-Second World War Croatian settlers • Employment • Community activities • Culture, language and the arts • Sport • Halls and sporting venues • Prominent Croatian Australians • Negative stereotypes attached to Croatians • Struggle for national recognition • Croatian celebration • Future prospects for the Croatian community

  11. APPENDICES Appendix 1: Table of Croatian pioneers in Australia; Appendix 2: Croatian pioneer letters; Appendix 3: Croatian halls and sporting venues

Hardcover book with dust jacket
Size 275 x 210 mm
154 B&W photographs, 50 colour photographs,
4 maps, 25 B&W newspaper advertisements
340 pp + 34 pp = 374 pages

Book price including postage & handling to the US, Canada or Europe $117 Australian dollars for air mail, and $105 Australian dollars for sea mail. To order a copy within Australia send a cheque or money order for $80 Australian dollars which includes postage and handling.

To order a copy send an international cheque/draft to:
Dr Ilija Sutalo
GPO Box 670
Melbourne VIC 3001

Alternatively payment can be made via a Western Union money transfer Email:


Ilija Denis Šutalo was born in Melbourne in 1968. He completed his degree with honours (1991) and doctorate in chemical engineering (1996) at the University of Melbourne. Dr Ilija Šutalo received the international ‘2000 Extraction and Processing Science Award’ in Nashville, United States for journal papers on extractive metallurgy and related sciences from TMS (Minerals Metals Materials Society).

Since 1998 Dr Ilija Šutalo has been a research scientist at CSIRO in Melbourne. Currently, he is the team leader of the Medical Science and Liquid Particle Flow team at CSIRO Manufacturing and Infrastructure Technology. Dr Ilija Šutalo has published journal articles in the fields of mineral extraction and processing, fluid dynamics and medical science. He is currently undertaking a Masters of Business and Administration at the Australian Graduate School of Management (University of Sydney and University of New South Wales).

Ilija Šutalo has written articles on Croatian settlement in Australia in The Australian People: An Encyclopedia of the Nation, Its People and Their Origins (2001) and the Encyclopedia of Melbourne (2004). He was a curator of the exhibition, Croatian Settlement in Victoria, The Untold Story (1999), at the Immigration Museum in Melbourne. Ilija Šutalo was also a founder of the Croatian Historical Society Inc., which documents the history of Croatian settlement in Australia. He is also writing another book: A Bibliography of Croatian Migrants.

Ilija’s father Nikola is from near Stolac, while his mother Emilija Jukic was born in Bugonjo. Both their families migrated to Slavonia after the Second World War, to Đakovo and Piškorevci, respectively. Ilija’s parents migrated to Australia from Croatia in the 1960s and were married in Australia in 1967. Ilija is the eldest of their five sons. Ilija Šutalo is married and has a son and daughter.

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