Old Nick (part two)

Why did Leonid Kulikovsky seek a new life in Australia and what, exactly, makes someone a member of the Russian royal family?

In the chaotic aftermath of the Russian Revolution, family members of the centuries-old Imperial house found themselves in exile in far-flung places, some still believing that the royal laws of succession should prevail.

But as I interviewed Nick’s friends at his home in the caravan park and finally, his family, I realised the enduring phenomenon of the Romanovs could be something of a burden for those born into it. Wealth and splendour are (for most) a part of a distant past, and the majority now live ordinary lives as citizens of the countries where their parents or grandparents sought exile.

Nick is not the only member of the family to wind up in Australia, either. Prince Michael Romanoff lived and died in Sydney. Unrelated but even more fascinating, Alexander Kerensky, a famous player in the 1917 revolution, lived for a time in Brisbane with his Australian journalist wife, Nell Tritton.

I think Nick’s enjoyment of the Australian bush proves he was something of an explorer. As his nephew Paul told me, he somehow found what he was looking for in the blue collar work and wide open roads offered by Australia.

On his daily walk with Rakky, and in his trips to the town library, Nick/Leonid enjoyed a materially simple life. He would have passed the immortal graffiti ‘Jesus Loves Nachos’ painted onto the Katherine bridge and the alternating green of the Wet Season, and the hot and dusty crunch of the Dry Season.

In a post script, the NT News reported that Rakky, the beloved pitbull-cross who stayed by Nick’s body until it was found, found a new home through the local RSPCA.

Bill Mellor’s 1978 article about Leonid for the Sun Herald.


Produced and presented by Rosa Ellen

Theme music ‘cars+passing’ by Nick Huggins from Little Lake Records.

Other music used in this episode

‘Baba Yaga’s Dream’ by Zulya and the Children of the Underground.

Romanian Folk Dances, Sz. 56’ by Béla Bartók, performed by the Eastern Wind Symphony. Licensed under a  Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives-3.0 (unported) license.

‘Le Surf’ by Chocolat Billy. Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 License.

‘March of the Unborn’ by Parvus Decree, from the album Aeon 1: Dixi, licensed under an Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License

‘Russian Easter Festival Overture, Op. 36’ by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, performed by the Musopen Symphony.