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Corones, Haralambos (Harry) (1883–1972)

by Dianne Byrne

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 13, (MUP), 1993

Haralambos (Harry) Corones (1883-1972), hotelier and businessman, was born on 17 September 1883 at Kithira, Greece, son of Panayiotis Coroneos, fisherman, and his wife Stamatea, née Freeleagus. From 1904 to 1906 Harry completed national service as a first-aid orderly. Having unsuccessfully applied to enter the United States of America, he emigrated to Australia, disembarking in Sydney on 10 August 1907. Six weeks later he went to Brisbane where he worked in the Freeleagus brothers' oyster-saloon in George Street. About 1909 he moved to Charleville and took over a café. In 1911 he opened the Paris Café on the corner of Wills and Galatea streets; from its rear premises he operated a silent-picture cinema and staged vaudeville shows with performers brought from Brisbane and Sydney.

In 1912 Corones acquired the lease of the Charleville Hotel. Reputedly, Paddy Cryan—a commercial traveller for the Castlemaine Perkins Brewery—had visited the Paris Café for a meal and was so impressed with Harry's conviviality that he suggested he move into the hotel business. Harry told him that he didn't know anything about hotels and didn't have any money. Cryan persuaded him that he could learn the trade, and the brewery would help to finance the deal. Corones was naturalized in June 1912. At Holy Trinity Church, Surry Hills, Sydney, on 29 April 1914 he married with Greek Orthodox rites Eftehia, daughter of Fr Seraphim Phocas. Fire had destroyed the Charleville Hotel in 1913, but it was rebuilt and Corones ran it until the lease expired in 1924.

An enthusiastic supporter of air transport as the means to end the isolation of Queensland's west, in 1922 Corones bought 100 original shares in Queensland and Northern Territory Aerial Services Ltd. He catered for the airline, supplying picnic hampers and sit-down meals for transit passengers in a converted hangar at Charleville airport. He has also been credited with suggesting the names for the airline's first five aircraft—Hermes, Atlanta, Apollo, Diana and Hippomenes—drawing on the classical mythology of his native Greece.

In July 1924 Corones leased another hotel (the Norman) at Charleville. After purchasing the freehold, he demolished the building to begin construction of the Corones Hotel: built in stages, it was completed in 1929 at a cost of £50,000. By then, Charleville was the centre for a booming wool industry. The hotel, with its jazz hall, embossed plaster ceilings and en-suite bathrooms, was an oasis for graziers, wool-buyers and commercial travellers. Charleville became a scheduled stopping-off point for the fledgling aviation industry, bringing a host of visiting celebrities who passed through the hotel. They included the Duke of Gloucester, Gracie Fields and Peter Dawson, and the aviators Amy Johnson, Elly Beinhorn and Sir Charles Kingsford Smith.

At Quilpie, Corones ran three additional hotels under the management of his nephews. He had purchased the Quilpie Hotel in 1921 and four years later built the Imperial Hotel. In 1934 he leased the Club Hotel from the Castlemaine Perkins Brewery. His other business interests included a 17,000-acre (6880 ha) station, Whynot, near Thargomindah, and a half-share in an importing firm that operated from Sydney until the Depression.

To commemorate his membership (1916-69) of the Charleville Hospital Board and his sometime chairmanship of its works committee, the nurses' quarters were named the Harry Corones Block. He was a member of the original committee (1919) of the ambulance centre and was involved in its affairs until 1958. In addition, he served on the local fire-brigade board for over twenty years. Corones was a foundation member and major developer of the golf and bowling clubs, and a foundation patron and life member (1966) of the All Whites Football Club. His 'perennial youthful exuberance and impishness' made him the focus of many stories. He was a Freemason. In 1965 he was appointed M.B.E.

Survived by his wife, two daughters and by two of his three sons, Corones died on 22 March 1972 at Charleville and was buried with Anglican rites in the local cemetery.

Select Bibliography

  • Architecture and Building Journal of Queensland, 10 Sept 1930, p 16
  • Queensland Ambulance Transport Brigade Hospital, Charleville Centre, Annual Report, 1958
  • Charleville Hospitals Board, Annual Report, 1964-65, p 4
  • Fourex News, no 6, Aug 1978, p 4
  • Courier-Mail (Brisbane), 24 Apr 1952, 12 June 1965
  • Western Times (Charleville), 17 June 1965, 23, 30 Mar 1972
  • Sunday Mail (Brisbane), 15 Sept 1991.

Citation details

Dianne Byrne, 'Corones, Haralambos (Harry) (1883–1972)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/corones-haralambos-harry-9828/text17381, published first in hardcopy 1993, accessed online 13 December 2018.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 13, (MUP), 1993

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