When Greeks immigrated to Australia in the early 1950s just after a period of tremendous hardship that was thrust upon them by the Second World War and the Civil War, they found themselves in an unfamiliar environment and culture, surrounded by people speaking a strange and foreign language.

It is not too hard to imagine how isolated these people must have felt. Since it is a basic need of people to group together and to relate to one another – be that in an ethnic group, a religious group or a professional group – these immigrants bonded together to keep alive their own culture and traditions for their children.

It was in this context that Greek Associations in Australia were formed. Initially, because of the limited number of people, Associations tended to represent larger regions of Greece.

In Sydney, the first Association representing our region was Leonidas, which was formed in 1963 and which covered a region (Epidavros Limira) that spanned the length of Laconia from Sparta in the north to the island of Elafonissos in the south.

A few years later, at the apex of Greek immigration into this country, Leonidas itself split into the many smaller associations that exist today – including Zarax Association which was formed in 1971.

Since then, Zarax Association (which represents the municipality of Zaraka in Laconia) has been strong and active. The Association’s singular dream was to establish its own centre where dances and dinners could be held and where members could meet informally.

The journey towards achieving this dream began in 1982 with the purchase of a residential property in Concord and continued with the purchase in 1994 of land in Punchbowl.

In 2005, after years of hard work, the dream was realised when the Association bought an ex-Council hall in Enfield and opened the Zarax Cultural Centre two years later after extensive refurbishment.

Zarax Association has also been active philanthropically. The Association has also raised funds to help individuals in need and has donated regularly to charities and hospitals.