Centenary of Griffith

Griffith Italian Heritage Trail

  1. Jondaryan Avenue (Kidman Way), Griffith
    Invented in Australia in 1910, the dethridge wheel measured the volume of water drawn from the irrigation supply channels. This dethridge wheel serves as a memorial to the pioneers of the MIA, including the many Italian settlers. The new irrigation scheme was plagued with problems in the early years. Life for the farmer and his family was one of hardship and struggle. Today, water conservation poses another major challenge in the region.

  2. 166 Banna Avenue, Griff ith
    In the mid-1950s Tom Apolloni, one of Griffith’s most enterprising citizens, decided to transform his Italian grocery shop and milk bar into a supermarket after reading about this new American retail concept in a magazine. When it opened in 1958 supermarkets were still rare in Australia. Being all about convenience, Tom’s Supermarket operated outside the legal trading hours, opening in the evenings and on Sundays. It  closed in 1982, unable to compete with the larger supermarkets.

  3. 47 Kooyoo Street, Griffith
    One of the earliest small businesses which catered for the growing Italian community in Griffith was the Broadway Store. Opened in the mid-1930s, it is believed to be the first continental grocery store in Griffith, selling olive oil, pasta and other food and household goods imported from Italy. It meant that Italians no longer had to travel to Sydney to obtain such items. The store closed in the late 1950s.

  4. 430 Banna Avenue, Griffith
    Peter Callipari arrived in Griffith in 1951 and opened a small shoe repair shop. Like most of the Calabresi who settled in Griffith, he was from the village of Plati. Callipari was an intelligent man of great generosity and kindness. Self-taught in English, he assumed a community leadership role, working tirelessly helping his paesani and other Italians who gathered at his shop, everything from completing government forms to interpreting.

  5. 494 Banna Avenue, Griffith
    The Belvedere was the first Italian eatery in Griffith and among the earliest pizzerias in Australia. Onorato (‘Ciccio’) Vico opened it in 1969, naming it after his father’s home town in the Veneto province of Treviso. This new ‘ethnic’ type of food was originally sold as ‘pizza pie’ to make it more acceptable to Australians. The pizzeria became a late night weekend haunt. It is now one of many Italian cafes and restaurants in Griffith.

  6. 100 Beneremba Street, Griffith
    Tony Colla arrived in Griffith in December 1949 from the village of Castelcucco in the Veneto province of Treviso. In 1951 he bought the blacksmith shop from his employer, Blue Hams. It was one of many Italian-owned farming businesses in the Griffi th area. Tony’s father and brothers joined him from Italy and it became a family concern.

  7. 451 Banna Avenue, Griffith
    This distinctive group of Art Deco style shops was built by Francesco (Frank) Battaglia in 1957. He was one of many southern Italians who settled in Griffith in the late 1930s via the canefields of northern Queensland. A Belgian architect temporarily resident in Griffith designed the three shops. The curved glass frontage is characteristic of Belgian cafès. One of the shops was established as a hairdressing salon by Battaglia’s son, Antonio (Tony) and is still owned by the family. Dolce Dolce nesxt door is also owned by the Battaglia family.

  8.  

    Radio 2RG, corner Ulong & Olympic Streets, Griffith
    The Continental Music Club was formed in 1951 with the aim of promoting integration and fostering greater cohesion amongst the highly segregated Italian population and the wider Griffith community. It broadcast a weekly program on the regional radio station 2RG in the Italian and Spanish language which included music, community news and farming advice. The club also organised a number of social and cultural activities. An initiative of Al Grassby (better known as the Federal Minister for Immigration under the Whitlam Labor Government between 1972 and 1974), it forged a new campanilismo (sense of community) in the Griffith area. The club provided the model for multilingual radio in Australia.

  9.  

    Edon Street, Yoogali
    In 1937 Coronation Hall was built to serve as a venue for social functions held by the Italian community. Located on the adjoining land was the Italo-Australian Club. Started in the same year, the club performed the role of a village osteria where men gathered to talk, drink, play cards and bocce. The club closed after Italy entered the war as an ally of Germany in June 1940. Coronation Hall is now a Sikh Temple.

  10. Edon Street, Yoogali
    The Italian community built a church in the late 1930s so they could practice the Catholic religion in their own cultural form. Modelled on a church in the village of Cavaso del Tomba in the Veneto province of Treviso, it was an expression of the growing confidence and permanency of the Italian community. The church was completed in April 1940, dedicated to Our Lady of Pompeii, the patroness of Italians in foreign lands. It is listed on the NSW State Heritage Register.

  11. 647 Mackay Avenue, Yoogali
    In the postwar years licensed clubs formed the basis of Italian social life in Griffith. The Yoogali Club was one of the earliest, formed in 1946. It was also the largest of these. Although most of its foundation members were Italian, it was never intended to be an ‘Italian’ club or associated with any particular province or region. Many ‘top recording’ Italian artists touring Australia performed at the Yoogali Club during the 1950s and 1960s.

  12. Corner Hanwood Road and Wattle Street, Hanwood
    Soccer became established as a major football code in Griffith in the 1950s. It started with an impromptu game played by a group of young Italian men one Sunday afternoon. The game took place in what was then a paddock behind the present Hanwood Post Office. From this came the formation of the Griffith Soccer Club. The club’s first official game was played in May 1950. Its culturally diverse membership reflected the different migrant groups that settled in Griffith in the postwar period.