My Hometown: Cabramatta

With the Cabramatta Moon Festival on this Sunday, I think it’s only fitting to describe the suburb I currently reside. I often found my hometown to be a doozy, mainly because I’ve grown accustomed to my area. It was only recently when a friend of mine pointed out that those who don’t live in Cabramatta are fascinated by this place. So with that, I’ll try my best to describe my hometown.

If you walk along Cabramatta’s main strip, John Street, you’ll find there’s a recurring pattern which goes something like this:

1. A restaurant which mainly sells this delicious meal:


A bowl of pho at Pho Tau Bay, Cabramatta. Photo: Tina Tek

2. This:

Muller's Pharmacy in Cabramatta West. Photo from website.

Muller’s Pharmacy in Cabramatta West. Photo from website.

I’d always been puzzled why there are seven pharmacies all located within a 200 metre strip on John Street. It’s good to know I’m sick, I know there’s a prescription drug out there to suit my needs.

And finally,

A mobile phone store on the corner of John Street and Railway Parade Cabramatta. Photo: Commercial Real Estate

A mobile phone store on the corner of John Street and Railway Parade Cabramatta. Photo: Commercial Real Estate

Like the plethora of pharmacies to choose from in Cabramatta, it’s the same with mobile phone stores. It’s good to know I got a good selection of Android, iPhones and generic mobile phones to choose from.

However, Cabramatta is far away from work, university and designer markets such as Bondi. There are days where I get up at 5.30am, in order to get to work at 8 am. It seems like anywhere else in Sydney would be closer to my workplace. Then it dawns on me all the things I’ll miss. The 6 am ritual of purchasing banh mi thit makes my mouth water.

You will see old women who make Vietnamese desserts, cured pork from home and selling various Asian herbs and spices on the streets during the weekend. At times, I’ll strike up a conversation with some of them – but it abruptly ends as they pack their goods in the trolley and sprint away whenever an approaching Council Officer comes along.

Speaking of food, did I mention how I live in a place that’s well-known for Asian food? How could I leave the delicious food from around the world which is literally outside my door step? With the streets are filled with tropical fruits like soursop, mangosteen and lychees, I could make a delicious fruit cocktail for peanuts.

Fruit grocery along John Street, Cabramatta. Photo: Tina Tek

Fruit grocery along John Street, Cabramatta. Photo: Tina Tek

As you walk down the streets of Cabramatta, you may see a homeless guy that sits at the train station. His black eyes squinting through his square spectacles, mangled jet black hair and a long beard with patches of grey. His skin is dark and uneven. Last year, I gave him a ham sandwich. When I turned around, he gave the sandwiches to another homeless lady, then scavenged the bin to find left over Vietnamese rice paper rolls.

You can get swept up with the local drama of my hometown – which restaurant makes the best crispy skin chicken, to whose child has graduated from medicine, whose child is now opening up another pharmacy, to other important issues such as who’s gain weight, who’s lost weight, who’s gotten a divorce and most of all, who went overseas recently to get plastic surgery.

I found it hard to describe my hometown in words, but it’s a town with it’s own quirks. And in the words of Kenneth Slessor, “You find this ugly, I find this lovely.”


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