Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Nicholas Kolios (1885–1927)

by Leonard Janiszewski

This article was published:

Nicholas Kolios (1885-1927), fruit-grower and writer, was born in 1885 at the small port town of Chesme, near Smyrna (Izmir), Turkey, son of Greek parents Konstantinos Kolios, farmer, and his wife Vassiliki. Nicholas received a better than elementary education at the French lycée on the island of Rhodes, then secured a banking position in Turkey. Having established himself as a merchant and importer, on 15 September 1914 at Mersina he married Kyriaki (Sunday) Athanasiadis, also from Chesme. At the onset of the Greco-Turkish War in 1921 he and his family fled to the island of Chios (Khios). Late in 1922, with a cousin, Kolios migrated to Victoria. His family, including four children, followed two years later; another daughter was born in Australia.

A short, lean, well-groomed man with a neat moustache, Kolios worked as a draper at Bairnsdale and later in Melbourne. In July 1923 he became a journalist with the Greek language weekly Ethniki Salpinx (National Bugle), in Melbourne, touring Greek communities in Sydney and Brisbane as the paper's representative. Three months later, after obtaining financial support from Greek food caterers and retailers, he purchased the publication, but sold it in July next year due to financial difficulties, aggravated perhaps by his propensity for gambling. As well as his news articles, Kolios had published in the paper a number of poems and short stories, focusing mostly on the life of Greeks in Australia, and on issues concerning the Greeks who had become refugees through the exchange of minorities after the Greco-Turkish war. Later, he contributed poems to another Greek newspaper, To Ethniko Vema (National Tribune).

Early in 1924 Kolios purchased a 100-acre (40.5 ha) lot near Mildura. With an uncle Petros Zymaris and two other partners, he camped on the property and pruned fruit trees, dressed vines and picked grapes on other blocks. He and his colleagues quickly recognized the inferiority of Mildura sultanas to those produced at Smyrna. The 'hot dip' curing process employed at Mildura (with grapes immersed in a solution of heated caustic soda prior to sun drying on racks) resulted in leathery skins. In exchange for a partly arable 42-acre (17 ha) block, £500 and the loan of cultivation equipment, Kolios gave the Australian Dried Fruits Association details of the process used in Smyrna. With the arrival of another uncle Alexander Zymaris and a Smyrniot vigneron Aristotle George, Kolios's confidence surged, accelerating his ambition beyond the initial contract (which was simply to demonstrate the technique on his group's new vineyard) to one of gaining commercial viability. The 'cold dip' process (immersing grapes in a correctly proportioned emulsion of potassium carbonate and olive oil) and spraying to avoid mildew and insects before being left to dry in the sun were quickly embraced by Mildura growers. The coveted world quality five-crown grade for dried sultanas was thus attained, and at the Toronto exhibition, Canada (1927), the success was internationally recognized.

Salinity affected his group's block, however, and there were disputes between the partners. Disappointed and disillusioned, Kolios left with his family for Melbourne in mid-1927. Failure in another business venture with two other Greeks proved personally bitter and deeply corrosive. He committed suicide on 8 September 1927 by drowning in Port Phillip Bay and was buried with Greek Orthodox rites in Fawkner cemetery. His wife and their two daughters and three sons survived him.

Select Bibliography

  • E. Hill, Water Into Gold (Syd, 1937)
  • H. Gilchrist, Australians and Greeks, vol 2 (Syd, 1977)
  • G. Kanarakis, Greek Voices in Australia (Syd, 1987)
  • J. Jupp (ed), The Australian People (Cambridge, UK, 2001), p 391
  • Sunraysia Daily, 19 Jan 1924, p 1
  • Argus (Melbourne), 8 Oct 1926, p 13
  • M. P. Tsounis, Greek Communities in Australia (Ph.D. thesis, University of Adelaide, 1971)
  • private information.

Citation details

Leonard Janiszewski, 'Kolios, Nicholas (1885–1927)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 2005, accessed online 6 December 2023.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Supplementary Volume, (Melbourne University Press), 2005

View the front pages for the Supplementary Volume

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2023

Nicholas Kolios (1885-1927), by unknown photographer, 1922

Nicholas Kolios (1885-1927), by unknown photographer, 1922

La Trobe Picture Collection, State Library of Victoria, H92.250/537 [with his wife, Kyriaki]

Life Summary [details]


Chesme, Turkey


8 September, 1927 (aged ~ 42)
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

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