Our history

The Croatian Archive Association of Australia was founded on July 24, 2005, at the inaugural meeting at the Croatian Club in Sydney. Ana Watson, Mirjana Majić, Zlata Radaković, Natalie Žabek-Sinček, Ana Žabek, Janja Blažević, Mirjana Cestar, Mara Potočnjak, Tomislav Beram, Luka Blažević, Drago Parancin, Jozo Stanić, Frane Burazer, Mato Bobošević, Fabijan Lovoković, Ante Glavor and Anto Šola participated in the Archive’s founding.

Plaque that commemorates the opening of the Archive office in 2007
Plaque that commemorates the opening of the Archive office in 2007

On Sunday, October 14, 2007, at the Croatian Club in Sydney the Archive began its project to collect and preserve Croatian treasures in Australia that we want to keep for all those who will one day seriously research the past of those who many years ago chose Australia as their second homeland. Natalie Žabek-Sinček hosted the program and Archive president Ana Watson thanked everyone who contributed to its initial activities and official opening. Joan Beram spoke about the early activities of the Archive and NSW member of parliament David Clarke also addressed the occasion. Marijo Šime Dešpoja, chargé d’affaires of the unofficial Croatian Embassy in Canberra from 1977-1979, officially opened the Archive’s premises. Mirjana Majić and Ante Glavor recited some of their poetry and spokesperson Fabijan Lovoković spoke about the significance of the Archive.

The Archive was enriched by the contributions of Mr Dešpoja, who donated a partial manuscript of the book Trial by Slander written by Les Shaw, an image of the carving Sad Bosnia made by Miroslav Asić, and a trophy presented to the Embassy in 1978 by Vlado Butković on behalf of Croatian Folkloric Group Zagreb from Wollongong.

The collection of Artur Nalis from Melbourne, who donated historical documents about the struggle for the recognition of the Croatian language in Victoria, is particularly valuable. Numerous certificates were distributed to the sponsors of the Archive: Croatian Club Sydney, Boka Windows, Croatian Inter-Committee Council of NSW, Croatian Karlovac Society, Dalma Electrical, Domovina, Active Car Transport, King Tomislav Croatian Club, Association of Croatian Volunteers of the Homeland War , AMAC Sydney, Bičanić Tax Service, HALUD, HOP, Spremnost Croatian weekly, Dugandžić Constructions, Jakob Pejković and Dr Veronika Jakovac. Members of the Croatian Folkloric Group Mladi Frankopani also participated in the opening ceremony.

In mid-2012, the Croatian Archive Association of Australia merged with the archive of the Croatian Catholic Centre St Nikola Tavelić in St Johns Park in southwestern Sydney. Shortly after the merger agreement was signed, the Archive moved into beautiful, newly decorated and professionally equipped premises at St Johns Park. By the end of 2012, the Archive had managed to move all its materials from the Croatian Club Sydney in Punchbowl. The Archive still held board meetings at the Croatian Club, which always offered the Archive its cooperation and welcome whenever the Archive requested the use of the club’s premises to hold a lunch, an occasional exhibition or a lecture.

After the annual general meeting at the end of 2012, there were minor changes in the management of the Archive. The previous Archive president Ana Watson accepted the board’s decision to work as its director for the next period, while the respected and prominent journalist, author and translator Fabijan Lovoković was elected to the position of president. Distinguished writer and reciter Ante Glavor was elected vice-president while Bože Žuro took over duties as secretary. Natalie Žabek-Sinček was elected treasurer, Tomislav Beram assistant secretary, Zorica Marušić assistant secretary, Joan Beram as assistant treasurer and auditor and Ante Peroš as promotions officer. The work was quite demanding, but also increasingly recognised, and the Archive made many connections and acquaintances through the wider Croatian-Australian community.

At the invitation of the Croatian Ambassador to Canberra, Dr Damir Kušen, the Archive’s board made an official visit to the Croatian Embassy in 2016, where it was very warmly received.

The Archive faced the sudden loss of some of its founders, some of whom went to their eternal rest, and some of whom went back to our dear homeland. It was by no means easy to continue with the Archive’s normal functioning, because most of them carried the main tasks in its overall work.

In the very beginnings of the Covid-19 virus pandemic, it was difficult to continue the full and demanding work at the same pace, but with the desire of those who remained on the board to persevere, through persistent work and commitment, the Archive managed to elect a new board, properly renew its registration and maintain it on its feet. At the annual general meeting in 2019, lawyer Vesna Žuro was elected president and, in 2022, journalist Šime Dušević was elected vice-president, Bože Žuro remained as secretary, while Arijana Joos was elected treasurer, Tomislav Beram as assistant secretary and Joan Beram and Ante Peroš as board members. Marin Žuro, a young engineer, and Tomislav Joos were accepted as new board members and Bruno Milić as assistant treasurer. At one time, Ana Žabek, Ružica Šteko, Mila Berdi, Damir Berdi, Father Smiljan Berišić and Father Josip Kešina helped with their participation and work in the committee and at the Archive’s premises.

The Croatian Archive of Australia founding committee in Sydney on July 24, 2005. Back row, from left: Luka Blažević, Tomislav Beram, Drago Parancin, Jozo Stanić, Frane Burazer and Matija Bobošević. Front row, from left:, Janja Blažević, Zlata Radaković, Fabijan Lovoković, Mirjana Cestar, Ana Watson, Mara Potočnjak, Anto Šola, Ante Glavor, Mirjana Majić, Natalie Žabek and Anna Žabek
The Croatian Archive of Australia founding committee in Sydney on July 24, 2005. Back row, from left: Luka Blažević, Tomislav Beram, Drago Parancin, Jozo Stanić, Frane Burazer and Matija Bobošević. Front row, from left:, Janja Blažević, Zlata Radaković, Fabijan Lovoković, Mirjana Cestar, Ana Watson, Mara Potočnjak, Anto Šola, Ante Glavor, Mirjana Majić, Natalie Žabek and Anna Žabek

During the pandemic, since the Croatian Club Sydney decided to sell its existing building and at the same time look for new premises, the Archive decided to hold its meetings and other important functions in accessible and available premises in our Croatian community, so it also cooperated with the Croatian Catholic Centre of St Anthony in Summer Hill, where the Archive has held many of its meetings for the last 3-4 years. Many thanks must go to the head of the centre, Father Davor Filko, as well as to Father Mate Mučkalović for being good hosts and for their cooperation.

In the meantime, the Archive was active both in collecting archival material and in participating in many significant events throughout the Croatian-Australian community. Throughout the entire period of activity of the association, a good part of the collected material was processed and properly stored, including documents, photographs, books, newspapers, videos, audio tapes and other materials.

The premises of the Croatian Archive were also visited by a large number of important guests from Croatia, Australia and other parts of the world. Everyone gave us moral support to persevere in our work, which in the future will be recognisable and certainly necessary for our future generations, be it for someone who is engaged in scientific and research work or for someone who is looking for specific information about the community, associations, institutions, events or perhaps about someone’s hard work and achievements, and so on.

In addition to significant visits to the Croatian Archive of Australia, though many can be named, only a few will be singled out. First of all there are the visits of almost all Croatian diplomatic representatives who have provided us with immense support since the very beginning of our association’s activities, especially all the visits of Croatia’s consul-general in Sydney Ivica Glasnović and his colleagues, who gave the Archive good advice and pointed it in the right direction.

The visits of all our dear priests and nuns are precious to the Archive, especially the unforgettable visit of a young priest from the homeland, Father Šimun Markulin, a professor at the Faculty of Theology at the University of Split, from whom the Archive learned much.

The Archive also had an interesting and very valuable visit by a delegation of the Federation of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina headed by Dragan Čović together with his colleagues from the public and cultural life of the Federation.

The Archive was also pleased that our premises were visited by the Secretary-General of the Central State Office for Croats outside the Republic of Croatia, Zvonimir Milas.

The Archive acknowledges that, only with the strong efforts of its president Vesna Žuro, it managed to get in touch with the aforementioned Central State Office for Croats outside the Republic of Croatia, to which it submitted a proposal to obtain funds for the creation of a project of exceptional importance both for the Republic of Croatia and the Croatian community. in Australia, which will sincerely promote our culture and cherish our Croatian heritage. The project of the Croatian Archive of Australia to create its own website was approved not long after, with the Archive receiving financial support from the Office and, with this help, was able to realise the project.

In addition to other important visits to the Croatian Archive, there was also a visit by the mayor of Vukovar, Ivan Penava, together with the son of a fallen Croatian veteran, Darijo Magdić, and Croatiana Orešković. Another highlight was the significant visit of the famous Croatian film director Jakov Sedlar.

The Archive also appreciated the visit of Dr Ivana Hebrang-Grgić, an associate professor in the Department of Information Sciences at the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Zagreb, who really inspires with her experience and guidance and strengthens the will for further work and success. The Archive was also pleased with the visit by Dr Ivan Hrstić, a research associate of the Ivo Pilar Institute of Social Sciences from Zagreb, together with nun Matija Pavić and young Franciscan theologian Marijan Vidović.

Former charge d'affaires of the unofficial Croatian Embassy in Canberra from 1977 - 1979 Marijo Dešpoja officially opens the premises of the Croatian Archive of Australia at the Croatian Club Sydney on October 14, 2007
Former charge d'affaires of the unofficial Croatian Embassy in Canberra from 1977 - 1979 Marijo Dešpoja officially opens the premises of the Croatian Archive of Australia at the Croatian Club Sydney on October 14, 2007

Recently, with the assistance of valuable board members Šime Dušević, Tomislav Beram and Joan Beram, the Archive was visited by representatives of the State Library of NSW, senior librarian Peter Arfanis and librarian Michelle Cheng. The Archive was also visited by members of the NSW Parliament Natasha McLaren-Jones and Andrew Rohan.

The Archive would also like to highlight the several important visits of Marijo Šime Dešpoja.

Also worth mentioning is the visit of prominent journalists and publicists from Croatia, Marko Jurič and Zoran Vukman, and also the visit of the Provincial of Bosnia Srebrena Father Jozo Marinčić and provincial secretary Damir Panić accompanied by Father Ivo Tadić from the Croatian Catholic Centre in Wollongong .

At the Croatian Catholic Centre in St Johns Park, it was always a great honour for the Archive when its priest Father Petar Horvat, offered both good advice and wonderful hospitality. The Archive was also honoured to host guests Father. Marko Hrgota, from the Croatian Catholic community in Australia, as well as Father Željko Baković and Father Miroslav Jelić.

The Archive would also like to mention the visit of Croatian war veterans Damir Markuš, Damir Plavšić, Viktorin Jurić-Paša and Damir Radnić.

The Archive was also always happy when prominent Croatian patriot, successful entrepreneur and philanthropist Marko Franović would visit, as well as the editor of Boka Cro-Press and the newspaper Domovina, Petar Mamić. The Archive should also mention the visit of its valuable member, respected journalist and correspondent of the newspaper Domovina, Ina Vukić.

The Archive should also highlight both the visit and long-term support of Father Josip Kešina from the Croatian Catholic Centre in Blacktown.

On several occasions, the Archive was visited by professors from Macquarie University in Sydney, Luka Budak and Jasna Milić, who nurture and take care of Croatian studies at the university.

Members of the Croatian-Australian Literary and Art Association Rosa and Vinko Perić, Drago Šaravanja, Ana Kumarich, Slavko Šubljak and many others also often visited the Croatian archive.

Other important guests of the Archive were representatives of the Croatian Maritime Museum from Split, director Dr Danka Radić, senior curator Ljubomir Radić and curator Petra Blazević.

The Archive was recently acquainted with its host and the new head of the Croatian Catholic Centre in St Johns Park, Father Klaudio Milohanović, and the Archive hopes to continue our wonderful cooperation with the centre for the benefit of all of us who cherish Croatian heritage and culture and contribute to the overall development and building of the entire Croatian-Australian community.

Finally, the Archive would like to thank Father Klaudio and everyone from the Croatian Catholic Centre of St Nikola Tavelić, who provide much and welcome the Archive with open hearts. The Archive would like to give a big thanks to the friends of the association and the visits of all our valuable members who often offer themselves and are always ready to help us with work, such as organising a function, and the Archive would also like to express a big thank you to everyone!

Prepared by the Archive secretary: Bože Žuro