Merry Christmas and all the best in 2014 to all readers of THE SLOVENIAN

To the Editor and the readers of The Slovenian –

Jelena and I would like to wish you and your families joys of the season and a safe and prosperous New Year!

Alfred Brežnik AM

Dragi prijatelji, bralke in bralci Sloveniana! 

"Življenje ni potica", pravi moj prijatelj, in res nas marsikdaj marsikaj temeljito preseneti, navadno seveda ravno takrat, ko to najmanj pričakujemo ali si želimo. 
Da bi bili vaši božični prazniki polni topline v srcih, pa tudi slovenske potice na prazničnih mizah, da bi bilo v letu 2014 čim manj slabih trenutkov in negativnih presenečenj in da bi ob Dnevu slovenske samostojnosti, ki ga praznujemo 26. decembra, kljub vsem njenim težavam Slovenijo imeli radi in začutili, da ste del nje, da ste njeni ljudje! 

Zvone Žigon

Urad za Slovence po svetu 


Santa and Martha Magajna

Merry  Christmas  and  a happy, healthy  and prosperous  New Year  2014  to you, Metka and  all my friends of all nations  wish you   

Martha   and Louis  Magajna
HASA NSW, Sydney


Dragi prijatelji,

Vse v kar upate, naj se izpolni,
Kar iščete, naj se odkrije,
Kar si zaželite, naj se uresniči!




This Christmas is a wonderful opportunity to revive lost relationships and to seek the best in others.  
Merry Christmas to all,

Natasa Shelley
Australia Needs You, Sunshine Coast


Health, goodwill and lots of tolerance to all  my friends and foes for a better tomorrow. God bless you all! 
Pozdrav in najboljse zelje,
Maria Grosman, Slovenian Club Newcastle


I wish you all a Happy Merry  Christmas and Happy and Healthy New Year.

Nick Krajc
Rosewood Homes, Sydney


Prijatelji in prijateljice,

naj vam Božična noč pokloni mir, upanje, ljubezen, zdravje, srečo in veselje - naj vas spremljajo tudi v Novem letu

Draga Gelt, Melbourne


Hi All,
May Christmas and a New Year 2014, bring you lots of health and happiness and may you have a safe and peaceful journey throughout the coming new year. Regards and best wishes, 

Joe Ramuta, former president of Ivan Cankar Club in Geelong


believe, that we are  on this Earth for a reason,
to make a difference and to be the change,
we  want to see it the world.

Na svetu si, da gledaš SONCE. 
Na svetu si, da greš za SONCEM. 
Na svetu si, da sam SI SONCE 
in da s sveta odganjaš - SENCE. 

Vsem najdrazjim, bodisi v Avstraliji ali pa v Sloveniji zelimo vesele bozicne praznike, z novim letom 2014 pa srece, zadovoljstva in ljubezni.

Joze, Simon, Mateja in Jozica Kostrica, Canberra


Lepe božične praznike v krogu vaših najdražjih in veliko zdravja, sreče in dobre volje v novem letu vam želim!

Wishing you a Merry Christmas and a healthy, happy and cheerful New Year,

Metka Čuk

How to explore your Slovenian heritage

By Daniel Maurice

Family History brings together the stories of many individuals and the events that shaped them. When we know about the lives of our forebears we can better understand where we came from and who we are.

My parents escaped from Yugoslavia in 1949. They came to Australia as part of the huge migration surge from Britain and (mainly eastern) Europe after World War Two. I was born only a year after their arrival in 1950 and from my earliest days was aware of my Slovene heritage. My parents spoke Slovene at home and had many friends from “the old country”. But while my parents would speak about their past lives in Slovenia and we even visited while I was still a child it was only many years later, when I was myself middle-aged and my parents had died, that I became really interested in exploring my Slovenian heritage. I was keen to make sure that I could pass on this family history to my children and their children.

Genealogy—researching your family history—is fascinating and frustrating in equal measure. It sometimes feels like you’re a detective trying to solve a mystery without enough clues. But when a missing piece of information turns up it becomes very satisfying to be able to piece together the story of your ancestors and their lives.

The Internet and digitisation of old records has transformed genealogy. Research that once required time-consuming and expensive visits to individual graveyards and churches, or hit-and-miss searches through old newspapers, has been replaced by online access to an incredible range of historical records and powerful search tools. As well, family trees recording the information you have gathered can now be managed with easy to use software that stores the results electronically and allows you to easily share your results with family and friends.

What’s more your can link your online family tree to literally millions of other family trees enabling you to benefit from the research of other people. Earlier this year researchers released the results of the first survey of European genealogical ancestry over the past 3,000 years. They found that all people of European descent are related—even if they now live on opposite sides of the continent. It’s always a surprise to discover the connections you have to other people as the result of Slovenian migration to many parts of the world.

I can now trace my Slovene roots back more than two hundred years and certainly know more about my heritage than my parents themselves ever did. For example my mother knew her father had spent 10 years in Argentina during the 1920s and 1930s before returning to Slovenia, but nothing more. I was eventually able to find out where my grandfather worked in Argentina and, most excitingly, was able to make contact with the family of my grandfather’s brother, who stayed on in that country.

So where to start?


There are many “how-to” guides for family history research on the Internet as well as a vast range of useful websites, some of which are listed below. A great place to start is simply to put down on paper everything you know about your parents and their generation. Then work back one generation at a time. Seek the help of relatives and family friends. A great strategy is to sit down with older relatives and a pile of family photographs—you will often be surprised how much they will remember using the photographs as memory prompts.

Genealogy is fun and can be very rewarding. But do also be prepared for surprises. Every family has at least a few “skeletons” in their past!
Slovenia-specific Resources

State Portal of the Republic of Slovenia. The State Portal of the Republic of Slovenia is a helpful tool to all the visitors interested in gaining general knowledge on Slovenia, information concerning public administration as well as those concerning private sector. In English.

A portal from the Ministry of the Interior with a wide range of information, mainly targeted at foreigners seeking to live and work in the Republic of Slovenia, but also of more general research use.

Archives of city of Trieste and its territory. Contains some historical information, maps etc. relevant to Goriskih Brdh and littoral Slovenia generally.

Archives of the Republic of Slovenia. Another page of useful links of central and regional archives. In Slovene.

Digital Library of Slovenia. Digital copies of many Slovene historical newspapers and magazines. Full-text searchable. Search tools available in English.

Slovene Ethnographic Museum. Covers traditional culture as well as mass and pop culture in Slovenia and the diaspora, on non-European cultures, and on the material and intangible cultural heritage of both everyday and festive life. Includes a wonderful collection of old photographs (searchable), giving locations, dates and people in the photographs. If you are lucky you might even find a photo of an old relative!

Slovenia Genealogy Links: A very useful page of links for anyone researching their Slovene heritage.

Slovenian Genealogy Society. The Society aims to bring together knowledge and experience of Slovene genealogists. It does not carry out private family research but some of its individual members do. The first link page below contains a range of useful information for anyone exploring their Slovene heritage, including an interesting video on “Finding your Slovenian roots and relatives” by the Society’s president.

The Society’s own website provides further information to assist family research. It is in Slovenian, but you can use Google’s auto web translator quite effectively.

Federation of East European Family History Societies. The FEEFHS was founded in 1992 to promote family research in eastern and central Europe. It has a section dedicated to Slovene genealogy.

General Genealogy Resources
The largest commercial website for family history. Offers access to a vast range of research tools, software and billions of individual records from around the world. However subscriptions are relatively expensive (up to several hundred dollars per year).
Similar to but is somewhat less expensive. Provides excellent free software, Family Tree Builder (FTB), to build and share your family tree online. The latest version of FTB supports the Slovene language, making it possible to record Slovene names correctly.
Run by the Mormon Church, but offering an enormous range of family data covering people everywhere. Really useful and has good filtering tools to assist you find the specific person you want.
A fantastic resource listing hundreds of thousands of death notices from Australian newspapers over the last 150 years.
Run by the Australian National Library and providing indexed access to numerous Australian newspapers over the last 150 years. You will be surprised how often your ancestors will appear in newspaper articles or family notices. Takes time but is very rewarding.
This is (currently) a free part of that aggregates millions of individual family trees built by users. Often you will find that your ancestors turn up in other peoples' trees and this is a great way to find information about them.
This is a resource of the National Archives of Australia. Provides access to historical records of the Australian Commonwealth Government. Contains many useful files including individual immigration and citizenship records, as well as many photographs.

Leigh Thompson, resident of Kozana in Goriška Brda

What is your association with Slovenia?

I met my future wife Katja in 1973 when I was studying Law and Arts at Melbourne University. We have been together ever since. We visited Slovenia in 1978 and again in 1980 when we were married in Ljubljana. We have returned many times and about 10 years ago we bought a house in Kozana near Katja's village Kojsko in Goriska Brda. We spend extended periods in Slovenia.

Where do you spend your time in Slovenia? Why?

We live in Brda. We spend time with Katja's father's people at Krnice on the mountain above Sp. Idrija. Beautiful scenery and a real farm with some cows and pigs and also the growing of herbs. I also like the villages over the border in Beneska Slovenija. But over the years we have been to most parts of the country. Next year we will go to Prekmurje.

Why do you want to spend time in Slovenija?

Even though it has changed over the years, I prefer it to Australia. I admire the culture and people strong enough to retain it in the face of attempts by others such as Italian or German fascists to destroy it. People are more polite than in Australia. And then of course there are the women.. After all I married one! Maybe I should write an essay devoted to Slovene women...

There is no crime where I live and I enjoy village life.

Several years ago I discovered the story of British, Australian and New Zealand soldiers escaping from Prisoner of War camps in Maribor, Australia and Italy and then being rescued by the Slovenian partisans. Some of these men wrote books about their experiences. I accessed documents from archives in Australia, UK and Slovenia. Hundreds of these men along with hundreds more crashed air crews and French forced labourers were rescued by the partisans and the village people who supported them at risk to their lives.

The photo shows me giving a speech with the sons of a New Zealand soldier rescued by the partisans.

What are the differences between Slovenian and Australian culture?

With the internet and international travel, the differences between the cultures reduce daily. But there are still differences.  I've always thought that people in authority have been accorded more respect in Slovenia than Australia purely by virtue of their position whether they be politicians or professional people such as lawyers.

The Slovenes have never been assertive about the value of their culture. There are probably historical reasons for this. But I've always been interested almost to a micro level even though Slovenes are rather shy about promoting themselves. Not all tourists are interested in casinos or big hotels. Just in my village is a 'samostan' from the 1600's, old houses from 1700, a building used as a hospital in World War 1 and the village Sv Rok festival.

Of course Australia doesn't have the dialects of Slovenia which is one of its charms.

Was it hard to get a residence permit?

It was easy for me as my wife and son Andrej are citizens of Slovenia. Just remember that all your Australian documents need to be officially translated into the Slovenian language.

What is your impression of the Slovenian clubs in Melbourne?

I have been to all the clubs at one time or another. In more recent years my son was dancing with the Folkloric group and we often went to the clubs. But now he is studying in Canberra, we don't go anymore. They are a fair way from our house. But I visit Slovene friends. Last weekend we were with Romana Zorzut and her husband Frank in Northern Victoria.

Can you share your best and worst experiences in Slovenia?

I have had many wonderful experiences in Slovenia.

I bought the house without seeing it and arrived with my small son. Of course the kitchen was a wreck, there was no heating and we had no beds. The local people of course wanted to know what was going on. So my friend from Kojsko explained that I was an impractical idiot but I was basically OK. She told them that I was an 'advocat' in Australia ( they weren't impressed with this ) but I didn't look down on people. So somebody suggested that if I confessed that in Brda I wasn't an 'advocat' but just an 'osel', they would help I confessed.

I have had no bad experiences in Slovenia but I would like to say that the last couple of years have been very bad for the country. Young people are pessimistic about the future. Politicians are believed to belong to an exclusive club. I have no idea about the extent of corruption but it is perceived to be significant. People often say that they have been betrayed by a fantasy of democracy where the result has been a wider gap between rich and poor.

Is Slovenia a corrupt country?

Transparency International published its corruption index for 2013. It shows the perceived level of corruption in the public service of 177 countries. According to their findings, Australia is ranked 9th sharing its position with Canada with 81 points out of 100; Slovenia is in 43rd place together with Lithuania with 57 points. All former Yugoslav republics are ranked well below Slovenia: Croatia in 57th position (48 points), Macedonia FYR and Montenegro share 67th position (44 points), and Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia share 72th place (42 points).

In this system, 1st place (100 points out of 100) means really clean and and last place (1 point) means totally corrupt. The lower the number of points the more corrupt the country is.

The placing of Slovenia is not surprising. Most of us probably believe that Slovenia is fairly corrupt. While I personally don't know of any public servant receiving bribes for their service, I do know of high officials using taxpayers resources for their private needs. And I am sure everyone else has an interesting little story about Slovenian corruption. Some may not be more than mere gossip while others are true and can be supported by hard evidence.

It would be easy to dismiss Slovenian corruption by saying that it is no worse than elsewhere, that Slovenia is in reasonable company - ahead of Malta, South Korea, Hungary and just behind Spain, Cape Verde, Dominica - and that it is placed HIGHER than its former best friends (that should count for something, shouldn't it?). However, it is not as simple as that.

Corruption means rot, it means that somebody is benefiting at the expense of another. If I use public funds privately I am stealing.

If the employer is the government, people in Slovenia tend to think that they are just taking from 'Drzava'  - as if 'Drzava' is a giantess who makes her own money and dispenses it at will. Because she looks mean and nasty it is OK to steal from her. She steals from them too, doesn't she?

People in Slovenia will one day have to realise that 'Drzava' are them: they are the ones who earn money and give it to the state through taxes so that it can be used for public service. They give it to public servants on trust. When an official uses public money for his own needs he is abusing taxpayers' trust.

Long-term, unchecked corruption in public service is extremely damaging as it teaches new generations that this is the easiest way to get what you want. Every generation becomes even more versed in different types of corrupt behaviour. Such behaviour becomes a norm and widely accepted. It undermines justice and economic development and destroys public trust in leaders.

This year, Slovenia is ranked 43. Last year it was ranked 37, six places higher. How low can we go?

Lara Černetič on how to do business in Australia

You arrived in Australia only recently. What did you do before you came here?

Prior to moving to Australia, I spent the last six years as the Head of the Economic Office of the Republic of Slovenia in Milan, Italy.

The main task of the Office was to provide assistance to Slovenian companies in doing business on the Italian market and to attract foreign investment. In this period the Office successfully assisted many companies to build business connections in Italy, organized various business and promotional events and attracted several foreign investments.

Why did you move to Australia?

My six-year posting to Italy ended in December 2012. For me, this was a period of great personal and professional growth. I've learned that work and life abroad is a source of extensive experience, openness and unforgettable memories.  

This is why I started to seriously think about moving to another country. At the same time an opportunity opened up for my partner and me to go and work in Australia. After some serious consideration we decided to take the challenge. Eight months into our new life in Sydney we see that the decision was definitely the right one.

How do you find Sydney?

I think this city doesn’t need much in the way of explanation. On the global level it is ranked as one of the most beautiful cities in the world. I share this view and feel overwhelmed by its attractions over and over again.  

I like Sydney’s multinational character. It hosts people from all over the world which makes me feel that I am not a foreigner but rather one among many. People are very friendly, approachable, tolerant and informal. This makes it easier to make new connections and friends and find business partners.

The natural beauty of Sydney is extraordinary. It has a rich social and cultural life. I have to admit that I've found it very easy to get used to this life and to fall in love with my new environment.

What is your experience with job hunting? What, if anything, frustrates you most?

From the outside Australia is seen as a promised land where there is no shortage of work. The real picture is not quite like that. Admittedly, there is a lot of jobs available but there is also a lot of competition. This is especially true in big cities where there are many applicants for each advertised job.

After many months of job hunting I realised it was necessary to aim somewhat lower and perhaps for a start accept a job below my aspirations. Here local experience is very important and this is something one initially can’t have. 

Just like in Europe, connections and references are very important. This is why I spend a lot of time building my Australian network by regularly attending business meetings and getting to know new business people. As a result I have recently been offered two new jobs. 
I have learned that getting a job doesn’t happen overnight. It is necessary to persevere, to be patient and to believe in oneself. 

In what ways do you find Australia different from Europe?

Australia is far away and this makes it in many respects very different from Europe. At the same time, there are also many similarities, especially in comparison with England.  

Personally I prefer to talk about positive differences. The main advantage of Australian people is that they are very friendly with each other; they always stick together and help each other. And that is probably a recipe for success. People are very positive and laid back, tolerant and often informal.

This laid-back attitude spills over into the business environment which contributes to a better and more stimulating work environment. 

In short, the quality of life here is very high and people live in harmony with each other and their natural environment.

As a business analyst you are familiar with the market in Slovenia. What Slovenian made products could in your opinion be potentially successfully marketed in Australia?

Europe is one of the main trade and investment partners of Australia. A free trade agreement between the European Union and Australia has been in the making for a while now. Its aim will be to make exchange of goods easier and to facilitate economic growth of both partners.   
Purchasing power in Australia is high, about three times higher than in Slovenia (in terms of GDP per capita). Australians are very open to European goods. The proportion of imports from Europe is higher than the proportion of imports from the United States. European suppliers are actually very welcome here.

There is an opportunity here for Slovenian companies. Some are already present on the Australian market but not sufficiently. It is my estimate that this market still offers many opportunities, especially in pharmaceuticals, information technology, renewable energy sources, chemical industry, biotechnology, machinery, etc. 

However, it is easier to make an inroad onto the Australian market by offering a niche product since competition is fierce.  

What would be your general advice to any Slovenian company that wants to market its products outside Slovenia?

The choice of export market can be quite tricky and to appear on a foreign market it is vital to be well prepared. Proper preparation reduces the risk and increases the odds of success!
I would advise to please research thoroughly the following issues:
  • Demand for your products (potential buyers and pricing);
  • Competition (who the competitors are, what their pricing is), and
  • Legal and other aspects of international trading (financing, protection of intellectual property, adaptation of products for the local market, etc.).

It is also very important to have an export plan. A good export plan answers the following questions:
  • Is there demand for your products and services?
  • What specific products and/or services you intend to sell?
  • Which business models you follow on the foreign market?
  • How much money you invest in an individual foreign market?

These days it is possible to get most basic information about your selected market and your competitors over the internet.

Australia is a well organised country and just about any information on its legislation, taxation system, subsidies, how to start a business, etc., is publicly available on different government internet portals. 

Let me list a few specific resources:  

For further assistance, Slovenian companies are welcome to contact me. I am happy to provide consultations on how to enter the Australian market and I hold the position of a Honorary Representative of the Slovenian Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Australia. I am available on my email address:  

Is there anything specific to the Australian market that companies from Slovenia should be aware of when trying to place their products here?

Australia is a young market and has high regard for tradition. It is very important to sell a story. Companies that are able to build one will very likely find it easier to enter the market faster.  

What are your plans for the future? 

Get to know Australia really well, gain new work experience, improve my English and make sure that my family lives a peaceful and happy life.

Daniel Maurice of Sydney on his Slovenian background

What do you do for living?

I am retired now.  During my work life I had a very varied career, much of it outside Australia.  I began with more than a decade as a diplomat in the Australian Foreign Service, then spending almost another 20 years in various business roles across the telecommunications and financial services industries, before finally another decade as an independent consultant focused on project recovery, product development and business improvement initiatives for global technology companies.

Where in Slovenia did your parents come from? 

Both my parents, Ivan Mavrič and Danila Jakin, came from Kozana, a village in the district of Brda in the far west of Slovenia.  Indeed almost all of my Slovenian ancestors for at least the last two hundred years were born, baptised, married and died in this village.  Situated on a picturesque hill between the villages of Šmartno and Vipolže, Kozana's population today is less than 400.  It is surrounded by numerous  vineyards and by cherry and peach orchards. These have long been the drivers of village life and the local economy. 

When did they migrate to Australia? What was the main reason for this change?

Ivan and Danila escaped from Yugoslavia in October 1949.  According to Ivan's later recounting he was desperate to find a new life free of his homeland's communist regime. Danila always said that a reason for her decision to leave was that she hated the thought of becoming a farmer's wife.   She also did not like living in a small rural village where, according to her, "everyone always knew your business".  Ivan offered her an escape from both.  They married on New Year's Eve, 1949 in Gorizia.

By March 1950 Ivan and Danila had already applied, and been accepted, for migration to Australia.  

The couple departed from Bremerhaven in Germany aboard the ship "Fairsea" on 16 July 1950.  The Fairsea arrived in Melbourne on 18 August 1950.  From there Ivan and Danila were taken direct from dockside in special trains to the Department of Immigration Reception and Training Centre at Bonegilla on the NSW/Victorian border.  Ivan and Danila were only in Bonegilla for a few weeks before being assigned to the recently opened Villawood Migrant Hostel in Sydney, having narrowly avoided being sent to work as rural labourers.  Ivan ended up working at the Hostel as a cook and Danila in a nearby factory.

By August 1953 he and Danila were free of the Government's two-year work commitment that was part of their assisted passage to Australia. Together with their first child (me, born October 1951) they moved out of Villawood to a house shared with other Slovenes.  Shortly thereafter Ivan bought a fish and chip shop nearby, remaining a shopkeeper for the next decade, before turning himself into a builder and property developer.

Once they settled in Australia, how did they feel about their new and the old country?

Ivan and Danila's first home in Australia, Bonegilla camp in 1950 was primitive and the food was very different from what they were used to, but to them Australia seemed like paradise after the deprivations of Europe.  By a stroke of luck I have a copy of a letter that Ivan wrote to his mother and sister from Bonegilla just a few weeks after their arrival in Australia.  It provides a clear insight into their initial impressions of their new home, as well as the problems still confronting their relatives back in Slovenia:

".......After 33 days of travelling [on the migrant ship, Fairsea] we safely arrived in this lucky and beautiful and rich country of peace and freedom..I honestly tell you that thanks God we have already had too much meat, ham, butter, honey, jam, eggs, milk, chocolate... With a heavy heart we eat all this while thinking of the hunger up there [in Europe].  Here we have heaven on Earth, it's a pity we are not all here together.  All goods are cheap.  Let me give you a few examples: for one-day wages I can buy 40kg meat, 10kg butter, 8kg white flour or 40kg wholemeal flour, one pair of shoes and so on. Nobody will believe this but that's how it is. When we start working which I hope will happen shortly I will send Mother a package as I know she needs it........."

The transition to becoming "New Australians" (as migrants were then called) was completed in November 1956 when Ivan and Danila were "naturalised" as Australian citizens.  By then they had already adopted the name Maurice in the place of the Slovene form, Mavrič (also sometimes spelt as Maurič).  Ivan later explained he made the name change because he and Danila grew tired of it being continually mispronounced.  In any case, Ivan said, Australia was now their adopted country and their new home.

I think this name change and Ivan's explanation for it says a lot about their attitude towards Australia and their commitment to it.

Have you been to Slovenia? Where do you usually stay when you visit?

I have been to Slovenia several times, starting with visits as a child accompanying my parents in 1957 and again in 1966.  I visited again as an adult with my wife in the mid-1970s.  Most recently I have visited Slovenia in 2006 and last year.  I am planning another visit in 2014.

In the early days I would stay with relatives in either Italy or Kozana, but for my most recent visit I stayed in a hotel in Kozana.

In what ways do you feel that you are Slovenian?

I thank my parents for instilling in me what I believe is a very healthy attitude towards my Slovenian heritage.  I am proud of my background and feel a strong emotional attachment to Slovenia, but I am and always have felt that I am an Australian first and Australia is "my" country.  I think this is a good approach as I do see in some other migrant children a sense of being "lost between two cultures", that is not really feeling Australian, but also unable to genuinely connect to the homeland of their parents.

I have tried to create the same attitude in my own daughters and I am pleased that they also are very proud of their Slovenian heritage which they see as "cool".  They especially like the fact that few people know much, if anything, about Slovenia so it seems to their friends to be a very exotic little country.

I, and both my daughters, became Slovenian citizens in 2011 which I was keen to do so that our connection to Slovenia was more tangible.

Are you a member of a Slovenian organisation in Australia? If not, why?

No, not a member of any organisation.  I guess I have never found any body that seems to offer me anything of specific value.  A further consideration is that unfortunately I do not speak Slovene so I see this as another reason not to join any Slovenian ethnic club or society.

What would you say about Slovenia from your professional perspective? 

On my last couple of visits to Slovenia I have been struck by how proud and important to Slovenes is their membership of the European Union.  At the same time I get a sense that the country is suffering genuine budget and financial problems which is a big cause of concern to them.  Young relatives in Slovenia seem especially concerned about their employment prospects.

If I had any advice to give Slovenia it would be to spend up big promoting and building its tourism industry.   It is a stunningly beautiful little country which is relatively cheap, safe, easy to move around and uncrowded compared to elsewhere in Europe.  But too few people seem to know about it!  Perhaps it could also focus more of its efforts on becoming or staying internationally competitive in a few specific industries or sectors, for example the way Finland was a world leader in mobile phones for many years with Nokia -- at least until Apple came along!

What are your plans for the future?

Relax.  Travel.  Watch my children and grandchildren grow.  Continue to research my family history and pass it on to the next generation so it is not lost.

Adrian (Jadran) Vatovec from Adelaide and his love of music

Every year, the City of Adelaide organises a Christmas Pageant which has grown over the 80 year period to be enjoyed by some 400,000 people.

The Christmas Pageant song used for this occasion was written by Adrian Vatovec
as the lead song of the 1995 Adelaide Christmas Pageant. The song has been used ever since.

The Slovenian took this opportunity to ask Adrian who is also the author of the Slovenia Australia Channel on YouTube and one of the editors of the Slovenia South Australia newsletter a few questions.

When did your parents settle in Adelaide?

My parents settled in Adelaide in 1955. My parents were married in Trieste in 1954 after fleeing across the Slovenian border. My father arrived from the refugee camp in Trieste to Perth in 1954. He worked in the timber mill in Northam which is about 97 km north-east of Perth. My mother arrived later in 1954 and was sent to Bonegilla, Victoria. She gave birth to me in January 1955 at Bonegilla, alone in a Nissen hut. Coming from the extreme ends of the Australian continent my parents met in the middle and called Adelaide home.

What are your main achievements as a musician?

I don't really think that I have achieved that much and I am constantly searching. I am a life long student of music and it constantly surprises me. I like writing and producing music and I like most genres of music whether it is tonal or atonal, from pop/rock to heavy metal, industrial, jazz, classical and of course Slovenian folk music. I have a need to explore all genres of music and not to be confined to one style only.

Why do you work in marketing research rather than creating music full time?

To work full time creating music is a very difficult task in Australia. A lot of people migrate either to Europe or the United States where the market is much larger to be able to sustain a living out of making music. Additionally, with the internet and pirate downloading musicians are not making money through CD sales but by touring.

I worked at Mitsubishi Motors Australia in the marketing/research department for 20 years and I enjoy doing it because conducting research is a creative process and it compliments songwriting.

It was frustrating to have a regular day job because music melodies kept popping up in my head. At Mitsubishi we had a canteen and on the stage behind a curtain was a piano and I would run to this piano from my office and scribble down on a piece of paper the notes that were circling in my head. I now work from my home office and the piano is in the next room, so the songwriting process is a bit easier.

What does music mean to you?

To me music means that everything is possible. You can start with a blank sheet of paper and half an hour later it could be filled with a song. To me, that is just like magic. You know when the magician pulls a rabbit out of a hat and everyone is in awe of how this happened. I am in awe of music in the same way.

Music is such a powerful emotive force that it can cause a whole range of human responses either in one person or a stadium full of people.

Everyone travels the timeline and music plays a major part as the soundtrack to that timeline. Certain markers along the way are posted by a song and I think everyone can relate to this.

I am looking ahead and can't wait to get up in the morning to see what the day will bring.

You can watch the Christmas Pageant song video by Adrian Vatovec on YouTube

Picnic in Nelligen on Saturday, 1 February 2014

The Slovenian invites you to a picnic in Nelligen on Saturday, 1 February 2014, at 11 am. Please bring your own chair, food and drink. Everyone is welcome!

Please register your interest.