Hivzi (standing) and Menduh Velisha with a truck-load of lettuces ready for the markets. Werribee, 1949.
Source: Jeanette Velisha
Hivzi Velisha arrived in Melbourne in 1937, where he joined his three brothers; Nijazi had arrived in 1929 and Menduh and Abas in 1937. During Hivzi’s journey to Australia, his father passed away in Albania. At the same time, his brother Nijazi was returning to Albania to bring out his wife and two children, plucking them from the turmoil of civil war that engulfed the country in the late 1930s.
Hivzi worked for two years as a farm labourer in Coldstream before moving to Werribee with his two brothers. They worked as farmhands for six years, including at Geelong, to which they commuted cross-country on bicycles. In 1945, the three brothers had enough funds to buy their own dairy farm.
In 1950, the three brothers married. Hivzi married Emine Ramadan, and his brothers married her cousins Gemaliye and Sherife, who came to Australia from Cyprus. Hivzi and Emine had three children and Menduh and Abas had four children each. As the family grew, the farm extended into growing vegetables. In 1953, floods destroyed their efforts, but through hard work they overcame adversity and prospered, becoming one of the leading fresh vegetable merchants in Melbourne, expanding into the international market.