Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Third stop: Cabramatta

Welcome to Cabramatta.


Cabramatta is the logical end-point of the multiculturalism of Australian society: if this is where we end up, then I'm happy. It is a suburb in which the lingua franca is either Chinese or Vietnamese, the smells are like those that waft through the streets of Saigon and the architecture seems like that of Asian societies seeking to dispell the lingering colonial influence.

It's an archway.


After stepping off the train, it's only a short walk to Freedom Plaza, the commercial centre of Cabramatta. Above it rises an archway like that of so many Chinatowns around the world, whilst to the side a series of concrete wildlife keep a careful, if somewhat static, watch over things. The shops have a let-it-all-hang-out approach, with wildly chaotic and random collections of things for sale spilling out the door, often quite literally.

Check this guy out.


The supposed crime and drugs which has ravaged Cabramatta are no where to be seen, at least not just before lunch on a Monday afternoon. It's hard to believe that this is the cause of Australia's only political assassination in nearly three decades. With few exceptions, people seem to be peaceful, with the only piece of nastiness coming in the form of a particularly nasty bogan mullet. Although the cliche is of Cabramatta as little Saigon, there are a variety of ethnic influences from all over Asia, with a Thai, Lao, Cambodian, Chinese and Filipino influence all being felt.

Cabramatta streetscape.


Cabramatta is also home to a Police and Community Youth Centre, a peculiarly New South Welsh concept. Although a little shabby and rundown, the centre provides some decent sporting facilities aimed and keeping wayward youth on the straight and narrow. It's hard to argue with a concept that seems to have worked, no matter how soft and fuzzy it might appear at first glance.

Finally on the journey was a visit to the Cabramatta War Memorial, dedicated particularly to the Vietnam War. It's an unusual message that inspires the memorial, focussing on the comradary between the Australian and South Vietnamese soldiers. Given the demographics of the area, that are much more likely to be decendants of the latter category rather than the former who are paying a visit.

Lest we forget.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Ari, loving the travelogue ;)

However PCYCs are not unique to NSW; they also exist in WA http://kalgoorlie.yourguide.com.au/detail.asp?class=news&subclass=local&category=general%20news&story_id=405404&m=12&y=2005

Anonymous said...

You are just a bit late (by about 6-7 years) to see the real under belly of Cabramatta.

I am a property investor in Cabramatta and when we first started buying in Cabramatta it was not unusual to have to step over druggies who had just had a hit in your doorway.

I personally observed a young couple with 2 kids one in a pram and the other about 3. Whilst one of the parents 'minded' the kids the other went behind the building to shoot up and then the other took his turn. At the end of it they were both so stoned that they lost a 'foil' and spent another 1/2 hour looking for it, abusing the kids for losing it.

I also heard that just before my association with Cabra one dealer cut another dealers throat in the middle of Johns Rd(the local shopping centre.