Veneto – the footy connection – Part 2

In Part 2 of his blog, Michael Quirk continues his reflections on his friendship with
Johnny Marchioro, Vin Camporeale and Mario Petruzzelli

from the late 1950s.

Not only were Johnny, Vin and Mario outstanding friends, but they were great role models for the younger me, a fact my mum repeatedly referred to in coming years.

Honest, loyal and caring, with an outstanding work ethic … all attributes passed on to them by their parents who did it tough overcoming much hardship in their early years in Australia forging new lives.

Their fathers all came alone to South Australia in the 1920s to lay down foundations for the future in their new country.

Marchioro family: Vittorio, Angelina, Romano, Johnny, Adelaide ,1949.

Like Johnny’s mum and dad, Vin’s parents Felice and Caterina were married by proxy before the war, their mums sailing from Italy to join their dads in Australia – Johnny’s from Italy’s Veneto region and Vin’s from Molfetta, Bari in the southern Apulia region.

Felice Camporeale, Adelaide c 1935. Photo courtesy Vin Camporeale.
Caterina Camporeale, Adelaide c 1935. Photo courtesy Vin Camporeale.


Vin’s Dad, one of 17 children, was a fisherman in Australia, having gone to sea aged 11 in Italy where he initially used to man the crow’s nest in tall sailing ships.

Petruzzelli family, Adelaide early 1950s. Pantaleo, Mario, Girolama, Tony. Photo courtesy Mario Petruzzelli.

Mario’s parents, Pantaleo and Girolama were married in Molfetta, Bari, (where Vin’s parents came from) before Pantaleo sailed for Australia in 1924. Girolama and their first son, Tony, joined him in Australia in 1939.


Vin and Mario’s dads were interned during World War II at Loveday Internment Camp near Barmera on the River Murray. Johnny’s father was conscripted to the Civil Aliens Corps in the Northern Territory from January 1944 to June 1945. The three mothers were left to work and raise their children alone at that time.

Pantaleo was a hairdresser and for years operated the famous Hollywood Hairdressers in Hindley Street with Tony and Mario.

Hollywood Hairdressers played a pivotal role in my life. Walking out after a haircut one afternoon I ran into Judith Roberts, whom I had gone to school with in Kadina.

Jan nee Overall and Vin Camporeale’s wedding, Norwood, 14 November 1964.               L-R:  Sue Logan, Johnny Marchioro, Jan Hender, Joe Camporeale, Chris Overall, Vin Camporeale (cousin). Flower girl cousin Linda. Photo courtesy Vin and Jan Camporeale.










Judith and I were married in London in 1965, the same year as Johnny married Eleonora in Adelaide. Johnny was a groomsman for Vin.

Well before this, however, we were just simple young men “on the tear”. Saturday nights we would pile into Mario’s little car and head to the dances at Glenelg, Norwood, Burnside and other places where we would try smooth-talking the girls. For two of us – Johnny and Vin – it eventually worked, leading to long, happy, successful marriages which sustain to this day.

At the Burnside Town Hall dance sometime in November, 1959, during a progressive barn dance which all four of us liked because it was a sort of speed dating, Vin, who was ahead of me told a girl: “See the bloke two down (which was me), that is the jockey Pat Glennon who won the Melbourne Cup on Macdougal, last Tuesday”.

She was quite impressed even though I was over 6 ft. tall.

One of the most lasting and happy memories for me of that year and later was the way Johnny’s mum Angelina (Mrs Marchioro to me), Vin’s mum Caterina (Mrs Camporeale to me) and Mario’s mum Girolama (Mrs Petruzzelli to me), welcomed “Michele” into their homes with big smiles before serving up ever increasing piles of pasta etc. Boy, could they cook!

My mum, Dorothy, loved my mates. She didn’t know how to cook pasta so made scones and they loved them as much as I loved their mums’ pasta.

Vin Camporeale, Mario Petruzzelli, Joe Camporeale, Michael Quirk, Johnny Marchioro, Adelaide, 2016. Photo courtesy Eleonora Marchioro.

Michael Quirk
25 July 2021

Veneto – The footy connection – Part 1

The Veneto market gardeners not only supplied much of Adelaide with quality vegetables but, along with many other South Australians from Italy, they also produced heaps of quality Aussie Rules footballers.

Michael Quirk, a 10-pound Pom migrant who, as a teenager, lived in Garden Terrace, Lockleys within a stone’s throw of the Marchioro glass houses, recounts how he forged lasting friendships with the sons of Veneto farmers and others, while playing footy for Thebarton YCW (Young Christian Workers).

He was particularly close to Johnny Marchioro and two other Australian-born Italians in the team – Vin Camporeale and Mario Petruzzelli who became his best friends. Friendships that last today.

Michael writes:

Jack and Dorothy Quirk, Michael and John, 1952. Photo courtesy Michael Quirk.

After coming from England with my parents and brother in 1952 when I was nine years, I attended Wallaroo Primary School and Kadina Memorial High School where I completed Leaving in 1958. I moved (aged 16 and a bit) to Adelaide to join my parents in Garden Terrace, Lockleys, near the corner of White Avenue.

John and Michael Quirk, 1952. Photo courtesy Michael Quirk.


I didn’t realise at the time just how lucky I was to be living there, so close to the rich culture of Italian Australians.

I wanted to play footy, but my new job as a copy boy with The Adelaide News, meant I had to work Saturdays, limiting my opportunities.

That is, until I heard about the YCW competition on Sundays.

Michael Quirk on right, 1959. Photo courtesy Michael Quirk.

The Thebarton YCW team is where I met Johnny, Vin and Mario and many other great young men with Italian parentage who played the 1959 season and beyond.

To say that the 1959 team was “hot” would be an understatement. It was packed with great players and we went on to win the Grand Final played at Norwood Oval in the team’s first year.


Johnny Marchioro, Rover for West Torrens, 1959. Photo courtesy Johnny Marchioro.



In addition to playing YCW footy on Sundays in 1959, Johnny played either A Grade or B Grade for West Torrens.Johnny was captain of the West Torrens Under 17 team on Saturdays, (winning the McCallum medal in 1957 for the competition’s Best and Fairest for the year). He, of course, went on to play four years of League with West Torrens. In one of the games in 1960 Johnny kicked six goals against Sturt.




Vin Camporeale and Michael Quirk, c 1959. Photo courtesy Michael Quirk.

Vin was captain of the South Adelaide Under 19s in 1959 so you can imagine what a roving combination he and Johnny made.

Vin did not play League but he had the capacity to easily make a team if he had wanted. He had an uncanny goal sense and read the play better than anyone I know.

This ability shone in 1961 when he kicked an incredible 26 goals for Seaton Ramblers against Colonel Light Gardens in the club’s first game in the South Australian Amateur Football League’s A3 Grade competition. The final score was 48.35 (323) to 4.2 (26) and the Ramblers went on to win the premiership in their first year. They still talk of Vin’s exploits at the club.

Other outstanding players in the 1959 Thebarton YCW team included “Venetos” Romeo Cavuoto, Guido “Reb” Rebuli, Frank and Jim Ballestrin and Bruno Piovesan.

A glimpse of play – Thebarton YCW football team, 1959. Photo courtesy Michael Quirk.

Romeo, Reb, and Brian Issacs (who was also in the Thebarton team, of ‘59), like Johnny, went on to play league for West Torrens while other 59ers, Eric Lavender and Bob Pascoe, played league for Woodville and North Adelaide and SA respectively.

Remember that back in those days league footballers were not paid mega bucks to play but, like Johnny, had to work back-breaking jobs all day before going to training. For many, like Johnny, their work ethic shortened their footy careers.

When the footy season finished, Thebarton YCW entered a team in the YCW basketball competition. Johnny, Vin, Mario and I all played and the team again won the competition in our first year.

I still remember with a smile how opposition teams became frustrated as Johnny, Vin, Mario and others communicated in Italian during the games. I joined in occasionally with a few unflattering Italian phrases I had picked up.

Michael Quirk
11 July 2021

Finally – my PhD thesis has been submitted


Last month I submitted my thesis after five years of research and writing. My thesis is called:
‘I buy this piece of ground here’: Establishing family market gardens and transplanting Veneto identity in Adelaide’s western suburbs 1920s – 1970s.

My thesis examines the formation of the community of market gardeners at Kidman Park and Flinders Park between the wars. The 18 men and one woman who migrated from villages in the provinces of Treviso and Vicenza between 1926 and 1928 did not all know each other until they lived in boarding houses in the west end of the city of Adelaide. The pioneers faced the harsh years of the Depression and had to find work where ever they could including rural areas of South Australia, Victoria and north Queensland and the Adelaide hills. By the end of the 1930s all the pioneers had leased land for market gardens just north of the River Torrens in the area that they called Lockleys. Today we know that locality as Kidman Park and Flinders Park.

My thesis focuses on the market gardeners in the interwar years, a period that has not been written about very much in Australian migration history. I am grateful to the 60 members of three generations who recorded oral history interviews:

Angelina and Vittorio Marchioro c 1937. Photo courtesy, Johnny Marchioro.

the pioneers or first generation, those who arrived as children (1.5 generation) and the second generation born in Australia. It is fortunate that we have the voices of Vittoria and Angeline Marchioro, the only pioneers to be recorded for another project in 1984.

Oral history interviews
In their interviews the family members speak of their everyday lives and include details of families acquiring land and working hard to develop their market gardens, learning techniques and planting new crops, moving glasshouses and selling vegetables at market which was unfamiliar since most of the pioneers had come from very poor families where there was no excess. The narrators recall celebrating weddings, first communions, confirmations and birthdays in packing sheds and they proudly talk about their families and the strong community networks that supported them although there were challenges living in an often hostile political, social and economic new world in Australia.

Using archival records
As well as the oral histories, I used archival materials like family records and documents about land ownership. In 2018 I was fortunate to receive a scholarship to research in Italy. Thanks to several relatives of the veneti who helped me in the Veneto region, I located records of births, marriages and deaths from parishes and comuni or local councils. In Australia I had access to records from the National Archives of Australia including arrival documents, applications for naturalisation, applications to own land, records from the war and conscription of some of the men into the Civil Aliens Corps and their service for the war effort in remote areas.

Books that were important
My research draws on books about Italians in Australia to provide a wider understanding of the situation of migrants between the wars, the experiences of the Depression, World War II and post-war migration.


Two books about veneti in Australia were particularly helpful – From Paesani to Global Italians: Veneto Migrants in Australia by Loretta Baldassar and Ros Pesman. The other, by Annamaria Davine, ‘Vegnimo da Conco ma Simo Veneti’: A Study of the Immigration and Settlement of the Veneti in Central and West Gippsland 1925-1970, covers a similar period that I focus on in my thesis.

I often consulted Desmond O’Connor’s No Need to be Afraid: Italian Settlers in South Australia between 1839 and the Second World War.



Thank you to …
I am pleased to have completed the thesis and I am grateful to many people in Adelaide and in the Veneto region for their help as I gathered interviews, research and ideas. My project actually began in 2006 when Aida Innocente assisted me with interviewing Angelo, her Dad about the family half-case factory. Aida also put me in touch with Johnny and Eleonora Marchioro.

Madeleine, Bruno Piovesan, Johnny Marchioro, Frankie Ballestrin, 2011. Photo courtesy June Edwards.

Johnny and Eleonora showed interest in this project right from the start and made it possible for me to meet other sons and daughters of the pioneers and assisted with many aspects including the exhibition we held in 2011, interviews and presentations with Frankie Ballestrin and Bruno Piovesan. I am fortunate that so many people agreed to be interviewed and record their memories of growing up on the market gardens and aspects of migration stories. Thanks to Michael Campbell for technical assistance and to all the other people who assisted throughout the last five years!

My thesis tells the story about the community of Veneto market gardeners. It examines the veneti who migrated during the interwar years, a period that has not been written about very much in Australian migration history. It focuses on the creation of the formation of a paese that reflected their solidarity and resilience and their continuing connection to their families in the Veneto region. It also raises new questions about migration, the significance of land and what it means for different generations of migrant families to adjust and belong in Australia.

Madeleine – time to celebrate – thesis submitted,        25 May 2021.

Late in May I submitted my thesis for examination. When that process is complete I will put a note on the website advising how more of the results of my research can be accessed.

Madeleine Regan
27 June 2021