Western Australia was initially mostly inhabited by people from Korčula, Šolta and other islanders. They bought up land so that they could live and work on it, and when the local community bought back pieces of this land for roads or other communal efforts, various streets were named after their former owners. Thus it’s fairly common to run into Croatian family names or our various city names.





Garbin                         Zuvela


Buktenica                                 Oreb


Vis                      Blato


It can be said that Cockburn, one of Perth’s municipalities, was generous in naming streets and parks after various Croatians. Many streets got their names from the family names of the first immigrants, such as Separovich, Oreb, Zuvela, Buktenica, Garbin, Bavich, Huljich, Covich, Josip Gaspar, Milos, Zlinya, Bosnich, Zukova, Bilcich, Musulin, Orsulich, Mavica, Gerovich, and others. There are two streets named after the towns of Vis and Blato, and on the road from Spearwood, one of the towns in Cockburn, along Spearwood Avenue, toward the crossing of Barrington Steer and Beeliar Avenue, is a sign that say Dobro Dosli (Welcome), Cockburn and Split sister cities. This is also the location of the Path of friends, with three lion in honor of Dalmatia and the fraternization with Split. The following park names are also present: Sumich Park, Visko Park, Huljich Park, Vela Luka Park, and Solta Park.


zid prijateljstva


Vela lula park    Loda iz Blata    Huljic park


At a time when several of Cockburn’s councilmembers were of Croatian descent, it was decided that a loggia, identical to the one in Blato on Korčula, should be built. The loggia (pictured above, in the middle) was designed by Snježana Babić, an Australian architect of Croatian descent.

In 1989, the Villa Dalmacija retirement home was built in the Sumich Park area. Some of the rooms in the home were sponsored by immigrant families, whose names are noted on copper plates. In order to decorate Villa Dalmacija, the Croatian Heritage Foundation in Split organized an event to gather paintings from Dalmatian artists, who responded in large numbers. One could say that I contributed in my own way. I went to pick up one of the paintings from Split’s main bus station, as it had been sent over from Makarska. While it wasn’t heavy, I hadn’t expected it to be quite so large. A strong bura (north wind) was blowing and tossing me about, and I was nine months pregnant. It’s no wonder my daughter, Petra, was born ahead of schedule. Ultimately, Jadrolinija transported the painting to Perth for free, and I was really happy to see them arrive.


Villa Dalmacija 1         Villa Dalmacija 2

In Spearwood, a southern municipality of Perth, where a large Dalmatia community lived back in the thirties of the 20th century, a Catholic church and school are named after St. Jerome. Their priest at the time was Lancelot Goody, who had come from London, and who appreciated the connection our people had to church and family. Plans for building the church of St. Jerome were put into motion, so reverent Goody went to Split to learn Croatian. Before returning to Australia, the bishop of Split donated a painting of St. Jerome (painted by Franjo Kapac, a member of Split’s Catholic community) to the church, through him. He couldn’t take the painting with him, but he held the first mass in the newly built church in Croatian, in 1934. Two years later, thanks to the efforts of Nikola Marich, the Yugoslavian vice-consul to Western Australia, the painting bearing the image of St. Jerome was transported from Split to Perth. Consul Marich commissioned a gold frame for the painting out of his own pocket. Even though he himself wasn’t Catholic, he showed that a sense of community was more important than religious predisposition. After fifty years, the painting was moved to the chapel of a new church dedicated to the Dalmatian saint, which was built in 1987.


Crkva                              zid

Tom Starcevich lived in Western Australia, and was one of the bearers of the Victoria Cross, the highest British military award, which was awarded to only twelve Australians for their actions during World War II. Thomas Lesley Starcevich (1918 - 1989) was the son of Petar Starčević from Liča in Lika and Gertrude Waters from England, and made a name for himself amid combat in Borneo. Thomas and his four brothers took part in the war and came back alive.[1] Aside from the cross, Starčević received a memorial plate and bronze statue, which was unveiled in 1995 as part of the Tom Starcevich Memorial in Grassy patch, his hometown. A hospital was named the Tom Lesley Starcevich Hospital in his honor, as was Tom Starcevich Road, near his home.


Starcevic portret                      Kriz

Lesley Starčević and the Victoria Cross



Tom Starčević Road separates from the main Boulder - Esperance road in Grassy Patch, where Starčević’s house still exists today, and is the home of his cousin Bill


Not far from a turn off the main highway in Grassy Patch is a monument with the names of all its citizens who participated in World War II, and the figure of Tom Lesley Starčević



Starčević was buried in a typical military grave in the town of Esperance

There is another monument in Western Australia that was erected for a brave Croatian, who sadly never made it back from the war. The man in question was Marinko Tomas (Tich), the first soldier from Western Australia who died in Vietnam. Tomas was born in 1945, a farmer by trade, and he was only 21 when he was drafted into the army. With the rank of junior corporal, he was sent to Vietnam in 1966, and died to shrapnel from allied artillery fire not a month later. The initiative to have the monument erected was started and sponsored by the Vietnamese community. The Marinko Tomas Memorial was erected in Nannup, in 1988, and it was sculpted by Van Khoat Nguyen.


Tomas portret

Marinko Tomas (1945 – 1966)


Marinko Tomas spomenik

Nannup, WA, Marinko Tomas Memorial


M Tomas ploca


[1] Lalich, Walter F. 2014.  Croatian heritage in Boulder. Hrvatski iseljenički zbornik. Croatian Heritage Foundation. Zagreb. Pg. 232.