Setting up a new life in ‘best place in the world’

Nicolette BarbasSouth Western Times

Bunbury farewelled longstanding community member, elected councillor and well-known businessman, Nikola Zaknic last week.

Born in the town of Blato on the island of Korcula in Croatia during the season of the year when figs, pomegranate, fruit trees and vines were preparing to lose their leaves, Nick was born into the depression year of 1930.

He spent 17 sweet, but difficult, years of his life in Blato and in 1955 he migrated to Australia with just a suitcase, unable to speak English.

Nick joined his father, Petar Zaknic, who came out to Australia in 1936 to establish a better life and bring out his family.

In partnership with his brother Miroslav (Miro), Nick set up the first stand alone fruit and vegetable shop in Bunbury in 1962.

Nick and his brother Miroslav (Miro) in Bunbury.
Camera IconNick and his brother Miroslav (Miro) in Bunbury. Credit: Nicolette Barbas

He later opened additional stores in the Bunbury Plaza Shopping Centre, Bunbury Forum, Victoria Street, Withers and a wholesale outlet which supplied restaurants and hotels in the area.

Nick operated these businesses successfully for 25 years before he moved onto a new business venture, a gourmet delicatessen and gift store on Victoria Street called Zak’s Gifts and Bunbury Continental Gourmet Foods.

He ran businesses in Bunbury for a total of 38 years, served as an elected councillor with the Bunbury City Council and was a member of both the Lions Club and the Rostrum Club.

During his time in Bunbury he also wrote two books, the first book True Love Never Fades was about his life in his homeland Croatia and his life in Bunbury as a new immigrant and the second From Drain Digger to a Successful Businessman was about his business ventures in Bunbury.

Nick lived in Bunbury for 64 years and with his wife Dragica had two children, Franya and Michael, four grandchildren and two great grand children.

“My father was a unique character and a very social person who loved to talk to all kinds of people and everyone who met him over the years certainly remembers him well,” Franya Liffers said.

“He enjoyed sharing a meal with people and would often invite the captain or first officer of any visiting Croatian ship to Bunbury Port for a home cooked meal at our home.

“Dad loved living in Bunbury and often said it was the best place in the world to live.

“Above all my Father was a devoted family man who wanted to establish himself in his newly-adopted country, provide well for his family and give back to the community of Bunbury.

“We will miss you dad.”

- Nicolette Barbas

Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.

Sign up for our emails