Visiting this little town on the west coast of Australia, my husband saw a church on a hillside and said, "that looks like a Greek Orthodox Church." After we explored the wild and wonderful coast line we drove into the little town and up to the church which sits on a little hill at the entrance to the town. It is a Greek Orthodox church in the depths of Western Australia but it is its history is what I want to share with you today.
Geoff Edwards was born in Shrewsbury in England in 1919 and he came out to Australia with his parents and they settled in Peel Estate, near Fremantle in Western Australia. He was as he describes himself "only a Pommy migrant". Life was hard on the farm where his parents tried to eek a living. He lived on the farm until he was 16 and then went to Kalgoorlie, to look for work.
The second world war broke out and he enlisted and was posted to Crete in May of 1941. He fought in the Battle of Crete and was captured and imprisoned but he escaped and a shepherd led him to Preveli Monastery and there he received the protection of the monks. He had food and care until he was able to be evacuated on the the HMS Thrasher in August of 1941. On that night he vowed that he would never forget the Cretan people and in particular the monks of the monastery of Preveli for giving cover to him and other soldiers during the battle of Crete.
In the early 1950s Mr. Edwards bought a big parcel of land on the coast about 10 km from Margaret River and called it Prevelly Park. He built a caravan park and some holiday houses.In 1979, Mr. Edwards built St. John the Theologian Chapel on a hill at Prevelly Park as a lasting reminder of his love for the Cretan community who helped him escape the Germans during World War 11. The chapel was furnished with donations from the Greek community and ex-servicemen organisations. This is the Church we visited today -
He also set up a fund for Cretans and a scholarship is granted every year to a university student. In 1989, Mr. Edwards published his book "The road to Prevelly" and part of the proceeds of the sale of the book goes towards the care and maintenance of the Chapel of St. John The Theologian at Prevelly, Western Australia and the Preveli Monastery in Crete, Greece.He worked tirelessly to support his commitment to the people of Crete and there is no doubt that he fulfilled it in every way. This unexpected story and connection to the Greek world touched us both.