After the Vietnam war ended in 1973 Australia took in tens of thousands of Vietnamese refugees-a markedly different story to the situation today where the xenophobic Liberal (by name but not by nature) government has an appallingly harsh policy towards refugees. As so often happens with these migrations they settled in clusters in the big cities and in particular many settled in one suburb in western Sydney,Cabramatta.
During the eighties and nineties Cabramatta gained a deservedly unsavoury reputation for drugs and gang crime but then the police and the Vietnamese community made a major effort to clean it up and the transformation has been remarkable.
In so many of these initial settlement clusters around the world the migrants gradually move out and the areas lose their unique cultural identity.Many Chinatowns and little Italies across the world are shadows of their former selves.Not Cabramatta however.It has become even more Vietnamese as the years have passed so that today the main shopping streets in the centre of town are totally lined with Vietnamese shops apart from a few Australian banks,health insurers and telcos.The predominant language is Vietnamese and it is a sea of Vietnamese faces.When I visited this week there were very few European faces.It was like being in Ho Chi Minh City -I really should say Saigon because I am sure no Vietnamese in Cabramatta uses its new name- without the motorcycles parked everywhere.It is not a tourist destination,it is a working Vietnamese suburb in a big city.
I had my camera with me and I here are a few glimpses of little Vietnam.It's a very colourful place so I have chosen black and white as I felt that in these shots the colour is a distraction.
The last two photos were taken in a restaurant serving Chinese food.Those are ducks being prepared and the menu above the girl contains some special delights including "Spicy Pig uterus" - yes,really I passed on that one-and "Jelly Fish and Pig's trotter".Not your standard Aussie fare then.