Just days after the US landing on the moon, we landed in Perth. We had no idea about the suburbs of Perth but had simply driven around a few weeks earlier and purchased a new house that had just been completed in Balga (now Westminster). We were at the edge of the urban sprawl at the time (10 kilometres from the city centre). There was pretty much nothing but bush between us and the next town, Wanneroo, which was a further 20 kilometres away. In the three years that we were in our store in Manjimup, we were able to save enough money to purchase our new home without needing to borrow money.

L-R John, Ristana and George at 22 Bilinga Road, Balga. Photo circa 1971.

Photo of me at 22 Bilinga Road, Balga. Photo circa 1975.

I managed to obtain a job at the Perth City Council soon after arriving in Perth. The skills that I had acquired at the Manjimup Shire Council proved invaluable and allowed me to progress to foreman in quick time. One day, a road was being built in Mount Hawthorn and it started raining and I huddled under a tree with the engineers. I asked them why they were spending so much money constructing the road the way that they were. They asked me how I would do it. I explained to them my ideas and they asked how I knew all of this. I explained to them that I did this sort of work in Manjimup.

Soon after, I was promised more challenging work but, in the meanwhile, I had successfully applied to work as a fruit and vegetable manager for Coles. When I started working at Coles New World in Morley in 1972, there were only three Coles stores in Perth. By the time I had finished at Coles in 1978 there were 53 stores. When I was managing Coles Warwick, I won an Australia-wide certificate for the best manager based on profit from sales and presentation of stock. It was a close tussle between Warwick and the Darwin store. The Darwin store didn't sell nearly as much stock, but they had larger sales figures because the prices they were charging were much higher in comparison to those in Perth. I was awarded a trophy, certificate, and money for my achievement.

Being presented with my award by the Australia wide Manager of Coles.

In 1975 whilst we were still living in Balga, we purchased an investment property in Steyning Way that we rented out. We had nothing but problems with tenants. We didn't bother to go through an agent but instead managed the property ourselves. One particular family started to fall behind in their payments and decided to pay for their rent by using cheques which started to bounce. I had to continually go back and forth arguing with them in order to get paid the outstanding money. On one occasion, when I went to try and get payment, the tenant said to me, "I don't pay money to dings." I said to him "You must have something wrong with you because you aren't living in your own house but instead living in a ding's house." At the time when I was talking to the tenant, I was leaning alongside my car with my head resting on the gutter moulding near the roof of the car. I got caught off guard and was struck in the face with the back of my head hitting the car. I can't recall exactly what happened, but know I was being choked and luckily the man's wife pulled him off me. The family packed up and were gone soon after. I sought legal advice but was told not to waste my money because these sorts of people are the kind that go from residence to residence and do not pay and even if they wanted to pay you, they can't because they simply do not have the money. Soon after, we sold the house because we were sick of continually painting and cleaning the filth left behind by the tenants.

In 1978 we moved from 22 Bilinga Road in Balga to our newly built double storey house on 44 Delage Way, Balcatta.

That same year, I decided to leave Coles and take on the role of managing the Macedonian Community Centre in North Perth. I was also one of the committee members. I only stayed in this role for a relatively short time. My son George was nearing the completion of his Diploma in Education after having earlier completed his Bachelor of Arts Degree at the University of WA but was told that very few graduates would be offered work in the foreseeable future. As a result, I decided to quit my job with the Macedonian Community and instead go into business with Ristana and help George out by getting him to work with us. We purchased a fruit and vegetable shop in Osborne Park in 1980 and ironically a few months later, in early 1981, George was offered a mathematics teaching job at Scarborough Senior High School. We continued working in the shop for four more years with George helping on weekends.

After selling the shop in 1985, I also had stints at managing fruit and vegetable departments for Woolworths, Action, Claremont Fresh and finally Cucumber's Growers' Market in Bicton until my retirement in 1998. Well, I thought I had retired - but not for long. I was convinced by my Svato, Tanas Mechkarov (George's father-in-law), and my cousin, Mitre Marin, to do another stint at managing the Macedonian Club in North Perth as the club was starting to struggle financially and they wanted my assistance to help turn things around. I ended up in this role for a further ten years. In addition to my two stints at managing the Macedonian Club in North Perth I, together with Ristana, also did volunteer work helping with the cleaning of the Macedonian Orthodox Church of St Nikola. After our beautifully built church was completed in 1996, my son John and I donated $7,000 to have the honour and privilege of receiving the key to officially open the church door for the first time on 4th February 1996. That was a very special and happy day for our family. In 2013 in recognition of my services to the Macedonian community of Perth, I was awarded life membership.

The key that my son John and I were presented with in honour of being the first to officially open the church in 1996.

Our church in North Perth. My first cousin, Luba Nannov, was visiting from Melbourne in July of 2018 when this photo was taken. Luba is my Striko Petre Kirev's daughter.

In 1990, we decided to build another 2-storey house, this one in the suburb of Stirling. This is our current residence and we have been there for some 31 years. We sold our previous house to my son John who has since demolished and rebuilt on the same block. We enjoy spending our senior years outdoors tending to our vegetable garden and this is most probably where you will find us if you were to visit.

It has been a varied and fulfilled life that I have led. My life started 90 years ago in a war-torn land under oppressive conditions and later lead me to the sanctuary of Australia, which has given us freedom and opportunity. I missed out on an education due to circumstances beyond my control, but I am proud of my achievements in life. I am also very proud of my two sons George and John and their families. I am content in knowing that they have received a good education with George being a high school teacher and John a pharmacist. I am also very proud of my grandchildren who have also done well academically. George's daughter Cassandra is also a teacher (music) and his son Michael is running his own IT business. John's daughter Nicole is a pharmacist, his daughter Amanda a primary school teacher, and his son Christian is nearing the completion of his Optometry Degree.

Tanas and Ristana Kirev.

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The Life Story of Tanas Kirev


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