|Click on photos to enlarge - far better rendition|
|Freedom being enjoyed in the Mazurian Lake District|
(Note the date '1989' carved into the concrete)
On Saturday morning August 23rd I contributed to an Australian national radio programme celebrating the 25th Anniversary of free elections in Poland.
You may wonder why Australia celebrates this anniversary with a programme on national radio.
The history of Polish immigration to Australia is a distinguished one with a history of many outstanding Polish individuals or those of Polish descent. There are some 50,000 Polish-born people living in Australia according to the 2011 census. The number continues to fall slowly.
If you are interested in this subject the Australian Commonwealth Government website is of present statistical interest:
And the Embassy of the Polish Republic in Canberra, Australia is also informative:
Polish contact with Australia dates as early as 1696 when a number of Polish crew members were on board the Dutch naval expedition which explored the coastline of Western Australia.
Polish settlement in Australia dates to the early 19th century when a Polish convict by the name of Joseph Potaski arrived in the colony of Port Phillip. The party moved on to Hobart and the same Polish convict went on to become one of Tasmania's earliest and most successful wheat farmers. Over the next forty years, about a dozen persons of Polish origin settled in Australia, mainly Polish nobility and army officers.
An interesting paper by Desmond Cahill from RMIT University Melbourne on this first Pole in Australia is at:
The most eminent Pole was Sir Paul Edmund Strzelecki who arrived in Sydney in 1839. Explorer, cartographer and scientist, he, among other contributors, explored the Snowy mountains in 1840, published the first map of Gippsland, named Australia's highest peak Mount Kosciuszko after the great Polish freedom frighter, Tadeusz Kosciuszko, who organised an armed insurrection against the Russians in 1795. There are about 20 geographical features in Australia bearing his name including the Strzelecki Ranges. It is also thought he was the first man to discover gold in Australia and contributed to the great nineteenth century gold rushes.
A significant settlement was established north of Adelaide, in the 1850s known as Polish Hill River. By the 1880s, there was an established Polish colony made up of 400 people, who maintained Polish language, customs and traditions. In 1870, a Polish priest, Fr Rogalski made a significant contribution to the settlement. A Polish church was established and Polish was taught at the local school. Following his death in 1906, the community gradually integrated into the wider community, losing its distinct Polish traits.
[from the Polish Museum and Archives in Australia - Muzeum i Archiwum Polonii Australijskiej which is of particular interest
You may still listen to the ABC broadcast programme I took part in together with the Polish Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski, Adriano Bosoni, a European Analyst with the geopolitical intelligence firm Stratfor and Beata Zatorska a Polish medical doctor and author living in Australia.
My interview section was in: