He was born in Yeppoon, a coastal town in Northern Queensland. His father and mother had come to Australia as immigrants from Crete and Rhodes in 1965 and they ran a plant nursery there. There were no other Greeks living in the area and with both parents busy working, Andreas did not have much contact with his culture. As he was growing up he wanted to fit in. When he was called a 'wog' at school it didn't bother him because he didn't know what it meant. He grew up disconnected from his roots and as much as he tried to fit in, he acknowledges he never did, until he had the realisation that no matter where he was and where he lived, he was Greek in his heart and in his blood.
He quit his job and decided to do a walk in May 2016, a walk, which honoured his father, but also all the Anzacs who had fought in the Battle of Crete in May 1941 when the Germans invaded the island of Crete. The battle saw a massive loss of life and evacuations followed, but a lot of the soldiers were stuck on the island and were protected by the islanders. He wanted to show the incredible relationship that grew up between the soldiers and the partisans, some of whom lost their lives protecting the Anzacs. His father was 16 when he started helping the war effort, which mercifully he survived. This bond between Australia and Crete he knows will last forever.
He started from the Greek Club recounting how he went through Cunningham's Gap to Stanthorpe and then onto Wallangara. He remembers with some amusement that on the very first day his knee went and his bicycle pants kept falling down, so he actually stopped to get a knee brace and to check the problem with his pants, only to find he had, in his excitement, put them on back to front. He got onto the Centenary Highway. Not long after he saw a police vehicle parked on the side of the motorway and he went up to the police officer and said "Sorry, officer was I going too fast?"
The officer took off his glasses and said, "I have been waiting for you."I have had three phone calls about you."The officer tells him firmly that he is not allowed to walk on the freeway. He was understanding of Andreas' cause but didn't want him getting hurt. Andreas picked up a Learner plate from an abandoned car, stuck it to the back of his rucksack and carried on.
That was his first day he was in for a lot of surprises but everywhere he went and wherever he had a chance to sit down with people to tell them what he was doing, he was received with graciousness and hospitality. Strangers he met along the way shared their own stories of their relatives fighting in the Battle of Crete. Sitting at the bar in Harrisville having a beer at the bar, another customer, told him that his grandfather had died in the Battle of Crete. He knew then, that what he was doing was absolutely the right thing. He was even more determined to spread the word. He also decided that he would record the military activity in this area by putting the memorials on his Facebook page so people could see how these little towns honoured their soldiers.
On one of the days Andreas walked 25 kms to Warwick. His feet were very badly blistered because he was wearing the wrong shoes. A shopkeeper found him the right walking boots and gave them to him at a fraction of what they cost. It was there that he also found a memorial to the March of the Dungarees dating back to Nov 16th 1915. Men were recruited to enlist in the war. They left Warwick with 28 men, it took them 14 days to get to Brisbane and they picked up another 100 men along the way. It took Andreas 11 days to walk from Brisbane to Warwick. He had good roads, water and food and his ability to travel this distance, though arduous, was nothing compared to the difficulties those young men faced when they enlisted for World War I.
Coming into Stanthorpe, where he had run out of water and food, he came across a sign saying Sam's Fresh Fruit and Veg. He was so excited to see so much fresh fruit and vegetables he took a shopping basket and filled it. When he went to pay for it, there was no charge. Sam the owner, and an Italian immigrant himself, offered the entire basket of shopping to Andreas. It was in Stanthorpe where he met a stranger who told him the moving story of his grandfather being given the Victoria Cross for the Battle of Crete.
Wallangara, which is on the border of QLD and NSW, is the half way mark, marking 260 kms and the length of Crete. This is where Andreas started walking back so he completed 520 kms in 40 days. "Not as long as Moses in the wilderness" he says "but in the Promised Land".
There were a lot of hours where the only other beings he met were foxes, cows and owls, so he often talked to them and kept himself amused and motivated. He will be repeating his Walk of Remembrance this year. Andreas wants to use his walk as a small way to remind people of the importance of knowing your history and your roots, to understand where you come from and your own place in the world. To him. it is a means of empowering future generations to appreciate, through history, the importance of peace, community and service. Despite the failure of his marriage over 13 years ago, he credits his wife Tina as his inspiration, which set him on this journey of discovery. He credits her with all he has accomplished and while he honours his father and the Anzacs by doing the walk, he dedicates the walk to her.
His faith in humanity has been restored, his purpose and roots could not be clearer and his desire to spread the word undented by the prospect of more blisters. He is looking forward to new encounters to share his love of history, remembrance and service to the country.