Australian Dictionary of Biography

  • Tip: searches only the name field
  • Tip: Use double quotes to search for a phrase

Cultural Advice

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should be aware that this website contains names, images, and voices of deceased persons.

In addition, some articles contain terms or views that were acceptable within mainstream Australian culture in the period in which they were written, but may no longer be considered appropriate.

These articles do not necessarily reflect the views of The Australian National University.

Older articles are being reviewed with a view to bringing them into line with contemporary values but the original text will remain available for historical context.

Angelakis, George (1920–1993)

by Yianni Cartledge

This article was published online in 2020

George Angelakis (1920–1993), fisherman and seafood merchant, was born on 18 December 1920 on the Greek Dodecanese island of Symi, then under Italian administration, eldest of three children of Michael (Mick) Angelakis, fisherman, and his wife Anna (Anika), née Clada. George was descended from a line of fishermen, sponge divers, and shipwrights. His father spent many years living and working as a fisherman in South Australia. Mick first arrived in 1923, staying for six years. He returned in 1930 and by 1932 had settled on the west coast, preparing for his wife and children to follow.

In April 1936 fifteen-year-old George, his mother, and younger siblings, disembarked from the Viminale in Adelaide. They entered on Italian passports, using the Italianised surname ‘Angelachi’ and joined Mick at Thevenard. Their first home was ‘a four-room, iron-clad railway cottage with nail holes in the wall’ (Appleton 1987, 44-45), which they eventually left for a farmhouse that had been reconstructed in the town. Coastal settlements like Thevenard were a popular destination for interwar Greek islander migrants, and the family experienced a familiar sense of community.

Angelakis attended high school in Adelaide. During school holidays at home, he worked with his father and brother, catching whiting in the many small bays. They fished from dinghies, using the Canberra, a larger boat, as a base. His first official job was a six-week fishing contract for a Melbourne-based company; he earned two pounds which he gave to his parents (Thompson 1984, 100). Later he was engaged as a labourer but an afternoon catching fish, ‘equivalent in value to the two week’s pay he earned holding a shovel’ (Penberthy 2012, 40), sealed his career in the industry.

During World War II Angelakis became a prominent local figure. In 1941 he was joint secretary of a committee raising funds for Greek and Australian forces, and in May 1945 he accepted a pennant on behalf of the residents of Thevenard who had filled their quota for the Second Victory Loan. He was also spokesman for the Greek community at victory celebrations in August, and a month later successfully petitioned the District Council of Murat Bay to secure a hall for the community. That same year, he helped to form, and became president of, the West Coast Fishermen’s Co-operative Society, a collective of thirty-five Greeks and Australians working in Thevenard and Ceduna. He had been naturalised in November 1943.

The co-operative opened a fish processing works at Thevenard in 1946. It eventually amalgamated with the South Australian Fishermen’s Co-Operative Ltd (SAFCOL), and Angelakis joined the board as the west coast’s representative. His community work continued: he was a member of the Thevenard Progress Association, and in 1949 he helped as an instructor at an English school for European migrants. On 27 July that year he married Dikea Tsouvalas, a migrant from the Dodecanese island of Rhodes whose parents were from Symi. She had arrived five months earlier with her purpose of stay listed as ‘to [be] married’ (NAA D400).

Perhaps swayed by a spell of ill health, Angelakis came to the view that there was no future for him in Thevenard (Penberthy 2012, 40). In 1959 he moved to Adelaide. His brother, Nick, followed and with their families they settled at Woodville. The next year they bought a fish, poultry, and game enterprise and, with their brother-in-law, Sam Sperou, they established Angelakis Bros in the Adelaide Central Market. Alongside ocean-caught South Australian seafood, they sold freshwater fish, such as Murray cod and golden perch, as well as imported oysters and prawns. They worked long hours, getting up at three in the morning and working well into the evening.

Over the following decades, Angelakis Bros became one of the largest fish distributors in Australia. It expanded globally, exporting to several countries including the United States of America, Japan, Singapore, New Zealand, Europe, Chile, and Argentina. During the mid-1970s George’s son Michael took over as managing director; combining his knowledge of seafood and love of cooking, he raised the profile of the business as the star of the television lifestyle program Out of the Blue. In 1984 the brothers opened their Fish and Game Hall in the Victoria Square Arcade. Respected, well-known, and ‘always smiling’ (Thompson 1984, 100), George remained involved in the business but took more time to enjoy driving cars, travelling, and gardening.

On 7 September 1993 Angelakis died in Adelaide and was buried in the Orthodox section at Centennial Park, Panorama. He was survived by his wife, and their two sons and two daughters. Remaining synonymous with South Australian seafood, Angelakis Bros was inducted (2007) into the State chapter of Family Business Australia’s hall of fame. In May 2018 the firm was purchased by the Knoll family who continued to operate under the Angelakis name.

Research edited by Nicole McLennan

Select Bibliography

  • Advertiser (Adelaide). ‘Angelakis Fish and Game Hall Opening in Victoria Square Arcade.’ 14 December 1984, 12
  • Angelakis, Nick. ‘The Old Man and the Fish.’ In Still Doing: Twelve Men Talk about Ageing, edited by Tina Koch, Merilyn Annells, and Marina Brown, 71–80. Kent Town, SA: Wakefield Press, 1999
  • Appleton, Marie. Made in Adelaide: The People. Adelaide: Savvas Publishing, 1987
  • Murphy, Catherine. The Market: Stories, History and Recipes from the Adelaide Central Market. Kent Town, SA: Wakefield Press, 2003
  • National Archives of Australia. A659, 1943/1/5176
  • National Archives of Australia. A714, 16/7719
  • National Archives of Australia. D400, SA1960/2037
  • Panousis, Vasilikh. Successful Greek-Australians and New Zealanders. Athens, Greece, and Marrickville, NSW: ‘Spring,’ 1992. Quoted in Forget Me Not. Accessed 18 May 2020. https://forget-me-not.com.au/obituaries/george-angelakis/248/. Copy held on ADB file
  • Penberthy, David. ‘Insight Special: The Santos series: Angelakis Bros. True Blue.’ Sunday Mail (Adelaide), 9 September 2012, 39–40
  • Thompson, Glenda. ‘A Game Where There’s No Place for Minnows.’ Bulletin 104, no. 5417 (22 May 1984): 97–100

Additional Resources

Citation details

Yianni Cartledge, 'Angelakis, George (1920–1993)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, https://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/angelakis-george-30889/text38250, published online 2020, accessed online 11 April 2021.

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2021