The fact that Theo Poulos Real Estate is celebrating forty three years in business, only tells half the story about the influence the Poulos family has had on shaping Katoomba.
1: John and George Poulos
The name Poulos was stamped on some of Katoomba's famous cafes, restaurants and guesthouses as far back as the 1920's. Theo Poulos, founder of Theo Poulos Real Estate in 1960, is the nephew of John and George Poulos, brothers to Theo's father.
John and George arrived in Australia from Greece and settled in Katoomba in the 1920's. They opened the Paris Cafe (now the site of the ANZ Bank) and John later ran the Redlands Guesthouse in Waratah Street, later establishing the Blue Lagoon Cake Shop, which was part of the School of Arts complex on the site where Katoomba Library is today. He later ran the La Plaza Restaurant at Echo Point (now the Pavilion). He finally opened the first specialist pie shop in Katoomba Street.
2: Jim and Peter Poulos
Then there were Jim and Peter Poulos, cousins of John and George who settled in Katoomba in 1916. Both owned the splendid Federation building that housed the once famous Hampden Villa Guesthouse from 1946 to 1960, which stood on the corner of Katoomba and Waratah Streets,. now a building site and also the building presently occupied by Greenwell and Thomas Pharmacy and the Medical Centre. They also owned the famous Niagara Cafe which was sold when Peter retired.
3: Theo and Lilian Poulos
Theo was born in Cairo, Egypt in 1919. In 1905 his father had migrated to Egypt from Kythera, a southern Greek Island and there married Helen, who was born in Constantinople (Instanbul) of Greek parentage. In January 1952 Theo arrived in Katoomba and wife Lilian with children Christine and Peter arrived the following September to a new house and a well established extended family. But Theo was not one to work in any of the family businesses, even though he gained experience in Cairo at his father's famous 'The Cecil' bar and restaurant.
4: Theo and Lilian Poulos
Theo had joined the Greek army, Middle East in February 1941 and was demobilised as a commissioned officer 2nd Field Co. Royal Engineers 2nd Greek Brigade in Athens in January 1945. However, the political climate in Egypt at the time gave little encouragement to immigrants and led to the departure of many Greek families and a further widening of the diaspora.
Theo's parents, Peter and Helen, also came to Katoomba in November of 1952 and purchased their own home. Sadly, Peter died one year later aged 68 and Helen died in 1973 aged 93.
5: Theo and Lilian Poulos
Fiercely independent, Theo, who had never worked for an employer and unwilling to work for his relatives bought a cake shop. Wearing a beret in the bakehouse, he spent four years working 14 hour days perfecting the art of baking and becoming known as the French pastrycook. Having missed being outdoors, he next bought a milk run and a street vending business. Accompanied by Lilian, they hitched their small wheeled cart to the milk delivery van and sold chocolates, ice cream and soft drinks at Echo Point.
6: Theo and Lilian Poulos
By now Theo and Lilian, who had three children (Christine, Peter and Tony) believed there must be a better way to make a living, so leaving the long hours behind, Theo bought a small billiard table run, with tables set in almost every hotel in Bathurst. The proceeds of this business helped Theo to achieve his Real Estate Licence in 1960. This decision was made to both challenge his skills and satisfy his ambition to serve a steadily growing multicultural community. Theo Poulos Real Estate was first established in the old School of Arts building (on the present library site), before moving to its present location at the top of Katoomba Street, later in the same year. Theo had also opened a St. George Building Society agency within his Real Estate office, one of his customers being Bryan Hardy, the present day sales manager. Bryan bought a block of land and obtained his home loan through Theo 30 years ago and built soon afterwards. This was also the beginning of his dream to create a wonderland garden, which has been a drawcard for many years on the famous Leura gardens itinerary.
7: Theo and Lilian Poulos
During his 25 years as Principal, Theo became recognised as a straight shooter not only in selling and managing properties, but also in his political and social beliefs. He is to this day an advocate for championing the benefits of multiculturalism and contributing to living in a fair and just society. Every opportunity he gets, such as addressing Rotary several years ago, Theo speaks of his experiences of being a migrant. He tells of his relatives, after being here 30 years were afraid of speaking Greek in public. He says being multi-lingual was regarded as a gift where he came from, and was disillusioned when he realised that at the time of the early 1950's Australians were born in a society that demanded they conform to the Anglo-Saxon culture. The Government's policy at the time was that of assimilation. Many second and third generation Greek Australians felt a sense of dislocation, belonging neither to Australia or Greece.
8: Theo and Lilian Poulos
Theo and Lilian have made an enormous contribution to the colourful and rich history of Katoomba as well as performing their civil duties. Theo was appointed as a Court interpreter for Greek and French and in 1980 he was appointed as a Committee member of the Technical and Further Education College. In that same year Theo was patron of the Freedom from Hunger Campaign, NSW Committee and was also made Life Member of the Royal Blind Society. He was elected Area Coordinator of the Local Neighbourhood Watch.
Now in their 80's, Theo and Lilian continue to be active members of the Mountains spending time with their family and many friends as well as Theo being a member of Probus for almost 15 years and Lilian a talented and diverse artist in porcelain dolls, painting canvas and china and working tapestry. Both have found international travel is now too exhausting and have opted for short trips within Australia and continually bestow the virtues of living in the Blue Mountains to any unsuspecting travellers and visitors.
9: Peter and Marie-Claude Poulos
Peter was born in Cairo, Egypt and was four years old when he arrived in Katoomba. As soon as Peter was enrolled at Katoomba Primary School he realised that he was different, firstly being called an aboriginal because he was darker and later in the mid 50's becoming a wog and a dago. These traumatic torments could have broken his spirit but Peter soon realised that if he gave as good as he got these remarks soon became terms of endearment. Just as the English immigrants were most offended when they were addressed with 'how ya going you old bastard" and "bloody POME...." etc.
In 1965 on completion of his Leaving Certificate, Peter joined a civil engineering consulting firm which specialised in soil surveying and road design, as a trainee. In 1970, he joined another civil engineering consulting firm which had the job of designing and supervising the construction of the Highlands Highway in New Guinea.
During this contract he was seconded to Mt Isa to be on the team to supervise the construction of a second dam for Mt Isa Mines at Julius Creek. It was on one of his breaks in Mt Isa where Peter met his wife Marie-Claude, who had just immigrated to Australia from France. They married two years later in Australia and returned to New Guinea.
10: Peter and Marie-Claude Poulos
Soon after their return to Australia Peter thought he should meet his in-laws and went to France, then as in the story of "Roots" he went back to his birthplace in Cairo and then to the Greek Island of Kythera to meet the family.
His journey ended in 1976 in Katoomba where he always wanted to be and joined his father in the real estate business. In 1979 their daughter Danielle was born and in 1982 Christiane was born.
In 1984 Peter, Marie-Claude and Eva Paar bought the business when Theo retired. Eva retired in 1991 so Peter and Marie-Claude took over in their own right.
That the business has grown from three staff to nine under Peter's leadership is testament to his natural ability of adapting to varied and different situations.
11: Peter and Marie-Claude Poulos
His staff think so too. There is a common thread running through their various stories of working with Peter. Like his father, he is a straight shooter. Five years ago when Bryan Hardy first met Peter, he said he knew immediately that Theo Poulos Real Estate was the right agency for him. Not only because of their considerable reputation, but also because he liked their fairness in staff rewards by way of a shared bonus scheme. In fact, all staff agreed with Bryan in saying that this scheme fosters a team spirit, enabling clients to discuss their needs with all staff, meaning rostered days off have minimal impact on staff/client relationships.
Island of Kythera
Cairo in Egypt
Site of the Paris Cafe
Niagara Cafe today
Katoomba is rich in Australia history. It has many beautiful old buildings with unique architecture, many dating back to the 1800's.
There are many families still in Katoomba whose roots go back to the beginnings of Katoomba
- here we tell some of the history of Katoomba through its resident's family histories.