TCN Meets Australian Deputy Ambassador John Read

By 16 September 2015

How he spent his summer getting Aussies out of trouble

One thing you just have to love about Split is that you never know who you’re going to run into. This time, I managed to catch the Australian Deputy Head of Mission, or Deputy Ambassador John Read and, in true Split fashion, talk him into a quick coffee and a chat.


How long have you been in Croatia?

Well, I’ve only been in Croatia for 9 months now, but it has been quite eventful and interesting. I already feel like it’s my second home because the people are so friendly, the environment is so safe and picturesque and the people, at least to me, seem happy, peaceful and content so I feel it’s very easy to feel right at home in Croatia.

Since you’ve only been here for 9 months, do you have the latest numbers, how big is the Australian community in Croatia?

I really don’t have the exact numbers, only because it changes all the time. I can tell you how many Croats are in Australia though. About 40 000 of them were born in Croatia and now live i Australia while there are additional 120 000 Australians of Croatian descent also in Australia. Some believe there’s even as many as 250 000 Croats n Australia, but these are the numbers from the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs. So, when Croats retire they tend to return to their homeland, or spend half a year here and the other half in Australia, which is, for many people an ideal arrangement, since you’re constantly chasing the summer.

Well, you’ve chased this summer here in Split even though you’re usually based in Zagreb. How did you spend your summer, I know you were quite busy?

As everybody knows, Croatia is a very popular tourist destination among Australians, especially young Australian tourists and Croatia is getting a growing reputation as a wonderful, exciting place to spend their holiday. It’s cheaper than other places in Europe, and I really don’t need to tell your readers that it is a stunning destination so there’s no surprise Australians are coming here in their thousands.

With the increased number of tourists, unfortunately, but that’s inevitable, we also get an increase of incidents. What kind of trouble were Australians getting themselves into this summer?

Well, the kind of trouble and mischief all young people get themselves involved in- Alcohol, hard partying…but that’s not only getting into trouble, you have to understand that for many Australians swimming in the Adriatic is like swimming in a swimming pool. It feels very  safe and very benign, but unfortunately, when you mix the sea activities and boats with alcohol nothing is benign and the inevitable happens, and the Australian Embassy then finds itself providing assistance to Australian tourists that have gotten themselves into trouble.



Last but not least, you don’t just provide assistance to Australians who find themselves in Croatia; you also provide assistance and information, particularly safety information to all Australians interesting in visiting Croatia. So, what do you tell them, I know you’ve only been here for nine months but what would you say characterizes our country?

Because the environment, the nature is so diverse in Croatia, you can ski on Sljeme or Platak, be on a beach in 40 degree down on the coast, there’s just so much to do and see. But as you said, we predominantly provide safety information and one thing we always tell them, apart from saying that Croatia is indeed a very safe country is to follow and obey the local rules!