Cabramatta: ‘Little Vietnam’ in the Vast of Australia
The way the Vietnamese Were Saving Themselves from War
… In 1975 People’s Army of Vietnam and Liberation Front of South Vietnam occupied Saigon and proclaimed communist regime. Military actions forced civilians break into a run – people, who had acquired property or had simply got settled in Vietnam, had to abandon their homes and ask for political asylum in Australia.
By that time changes had brewed in the Green Continent: more and more often diversity of cultures and convergence of ethnic groups was mentioned on official level. Political campaign codenamed “White Australia”, limiting “colorful” immigration, was ceased.Photo tripadvisor.com
That’s how the Vietnamese became one of the most numerous diasporas in Australia. While there were merely 500 natives of Vietnam there before 1975, some three years later their number grew to fifty five hundred. Peak of immigration took place in 1995 when number of refuges reached 8500. Quickest-witted ones even managed to transfer small businesses to new homeland and now it is the Vietnamese that plenty of shops in certain regions belong to.
Cambramatta: Repercussion of Vietnam in Sydney
Cambramatta region in Western part of Sydney is called a “transit area” for immigrants: after World War II refuges from Germany, Greece, Italy, the United Kingdom and Yugoslavia flew there. No wonder that the territory attracted the Vietnamese, too, who rushed to Australia because of relatively cheap land and proximity to Western industrial sector of Sydney, where majority of the country’s natives found themselves jobs.Photo vietravel.com
Mass media companies in Cabramatta saw signs of ghetto and specified that in those days due to high unemployment and criminality levels, economy of the region was distinctive for high competition and low prices. Anyway, a lot of the Vientamese left Cabramatta to get education and came back to launch businesses of their own, so currently you can easily come across representatives of most various professions who speak Vietnamese language: doctors, lawyers, economists, realtors, etc.
Where does “notoriety” come from?
Colorful guide books as well as talkative tour agents will hardly tell you what people who visited Cabramatta learned the hard way. According to witnesses, if you somehow end up in the district, don’t take narrow deserted streets and stay away from the railway station.
The word is: should you be driving along the main street of Cabramatta in twilight and lose focus while looking sideways to slow down, you’ll see a curious scene: the Vietnamese will rush to the car and start persuading you to by drugs.
Railway station in Cabramatta is a story in its own right. There you can enter a public toilet to find a corpse of a drug addict who died of an overdose. Due to such accidents becoming more and more frequent, railway station got a nickname “Drug Express”. Despite involvement of political figures, police, human rights protection organizations and mass media, the issue of heroine in Cabramatta remains burning.Photo fujilove.com
One of the most terrifying gangs that had united natives of Vietnam in Cabramatta became 5T grouping. Its formation took place in the middle of 1980s and its name meant 5 Vietnamese words that start with letter “T”: in English they are “love”, “money”, “prison”, “punishment” and “suicide”. According to other version, “5T” stands for an encrypted phrase “childhood without love”. Teenagers involved in criminal have become a real danger for honest citizens of Cabramatta.
Politician who used to fight against criminal entities, head of labor party, veteran of the Vietnam War John Newman warned general public more than once about activities of 5T organization that controlled local drug traffic: “The Asian gangs involved don't fear our laws. But there's one thing they do fear and that's possible deportation back to the jungles of Vietnam, because that's where, frankly, they belong.” In 1994 in Cabramatta murder of John Newman was committed; 5T gang fell under suspicion because they had every motive for vendetta.
… Currently police intensively fights the problem of drug dealing among newly arrived Vietnamese: as travelers note, cameras are installed in the streets to register felonies.Photo fujilove.com
Forewarned is forearmed! This saying is as relevant for a trip to Cabramatta as possible. One shouldn’t be scared of potential threats, one should just be attentive and careful – and it’ll only be pleasant surprises that the city will give.
By the way, Cabramatta is also a godsend for admirers of exotic food. In Sydney they say: “little Vietnam” unites cuisines of the world – and it really is so. Have a look at valleys nearby Liberty Palace, culture institution in the city centre – and you’ll find small cafés where you’ll be treated with Vietnamese soups, butcher’s shops that sell so-called wind dried sausages, and commodity warehouses where one can find Thai spices.
One of the entertainments, after which memories of true Asian delights will stay with you forever, was invented by journalist Maeve O'Meara who has traveled around the globe for 20 years to write down culinary traditions and has been writing a book about Australian delights for 11 years. O'Meara and her team carry out tours around best restaurants of Cabramatta and allow trying Vietnamese dishes and learning traditions of their cooking.
As you can see, if you follow safety rules, you can find something for yourself in the city, carefully touch the atmosphere of contrasts that Cabramatta lives with. Those who love risky journeys will have enough memories for the rest of their lives; cosmopolites are bound to feel themselves right at home upon discovering so many ethnic groups on a relatively small territory; people fond of history will find quite some food for reflection. And adherents of calm leisure time will drop by great restaurants and cozy parks and if they are lucky – decipher a couple of Vietnamese hieroglyphs – and there is a plenty of them in the streets of Cabramatta.
Cover photo twitter.com