From mixed grills and Mazdas, to football and flamboyance, the Antony family has given Goulburn a unique local flavour.
Brothers Tony, Michael, Platon and Chris played and coached rugby league in the Group 8, Group 9 and Group 21 competitions, and beyond, with notable success. Their hard-working parents Andrew and Theodora were well regarded for their hospitality in restaurants and cafes and kindness.
Some of their boys’ exuberance came from their uncle, Bill Peters, who had a fish’n’chips shop near the beach at Wollongong. Andrew worked for Bill after toiling away in the heat and grime of steel mills, having arriving from Cyprus in the late 1940s.
Theodora Antonio also came from Cyprus two years later. They met and married in Wollongong, and after working for Bill, they moved to Gosford, where they had Tony and Michael (aka ‘Arab’ and ‘Turk’). On their return to Wollongong, Platon and Chris arrived, and a few years later the family moved to Gundagai.
When Bill later moved to Goulburn he was joined by the Antonys. The two families lived upstairs in what later became the Rugby Club, in Market Street, although in those days Bill ran a high-stakes card game where Greeks congregated after the cafes closed.
“Bill was a real character, like a second father in many ways,” says Platon. “He and his wife, Ann, lived with us for a lot of years.
“Mum and dad bought a house in Park Street. In partnership with Uncle Bill, they opened an a-la-carte restaurant, the Parkview Restaurant above Gittoe’s Newsagency, in the late 1960s. Gough Whitlam used to call in for lunch on his way back to Sydney.”
Parkview quickly earned a following, as did the Antonys, who later moved on to other eateries including the Empire Fish Cafe – which they bought from Theodora’s brother, Peter Antonio – the Star Cafe next to the Astor Hotel, and then a little cafe next to the Tatts Hotel.
They had also operated a restaurant at the then Phillip Court with Taz Chipreo and Con Carey.
Michael recalls his parents being flat out running their business while their four sons pursued sporting interests. Andrew would come into the football dressing sheds, and was popular with everyone. He helped anyone who was struggling.
In later years, Andrew won a car raffled by the Lions Club at Christmas, which he sold to Nev Miller, and with the proceeds gave Theodora a holiday in Cyprus.
Years later, having left Goulburn and living in Gladstone, Queensland, managing a security company, Michael was called home when Andrew had a stroke and later died. He took over running the Bon Ton, which maintained its popular, old-fashioned rump steak with chips and eggs, steak-and-kidney pie, mixed grill and roast lamb.
Goulburn United (Roosters) shaped the four brothers’ adulthood.
“United was a family club and those blokes taught us our values and club spirit,” says Michael said.
Skilled with ball handling, each of the Antony boys joined the Roosters’ under-18’s juniors. And their team won the respective premiership every time.
With Tony as captain-coach, the Roosters met Queanbeyan Blues in the 1977 grand final.
“Bill Peters released five roosters onto Seiffert Oval before the games,” says Platon. “He loved to have a punt and loved to back United. We beat the Blues 34-16.”
Years later, while up north coaching, Platon began selling cars and continued it on his return to Goulburn, first for Clive Flack, with the dealer’s son and his friend, Mark. He later joined Southern Ford selling cars for Harry Maas and other dealers.
“I would stand on the corner at Southern Ford, pointing to Geissler’s: ‘That bloke’s coming to see me when he’s finished with you,’ I’d be yelling at my good friend, Phil Robertson, who I now work with,” says Platon.
“He was only young in the game, looking at me and thinking, ‘What’s he on about.’
“‘He’s mine, Robbo, when you don’t sign him up I’m going to get him,’ [Platon would shout].
“There was always the thrill when you did the deal. You see the excitement in people purchasing a new car.”
Platon won a country NSW sales manager award in 2014, having sold more than 340 Mazdas in a year.
He wants to throw his hat in the ring for Goulburn Mulwaree Council elections when the COVID-19 pandemic subsides sufficiently. He believes Mayor Bob Kirk and council members have done a good job with the main street and river walk projects.
But he would like to see the entrances into Goulburn tidied up, and has other issues of interest in a city close to his family’s heart.