THE Parer family, originally from Alella in Spain, were the anchor of the Catalan community in Australia for 50 years.
The first brother to leave Spain was Josep, who decided to migrate to South America in 1851, following his sense of adventure and eye for business. He left Montevideo in Uruguay on board the Alabama and landed in Australia in 1855.
A year later, his half-brother Francisco joined him and they started breeding poultry in Petersham near Sydney, but the business was not successful. They decided to move to Bendigo looking for gold and finally settled on the banks of the Yarra River, a tent town to cope with the rapid expansion of Melbourne during the gold rush.
It was their entrepreneurial character and perseverance, and also a spark of luck, which triggered the start of the Parer Empire in Melbourne. In less than 40 years they invested in more than 30 hotels and restaurants. And they are believed to be the first people to commercialise meat pies in Australia.
Josep and Francisco were the pioneers of the Parer dynasty in Australia. Seven of their brothers and sisters, nephews and friends of the family joined them, which is where the family tree gets complicated.