Saturday, September 12, 2009

suburb no.2: Lakemba

Lakemba - somewhere out west with a large Muslim community and a mosque. Realising this was 
the full extent of my paltry knowledge about the suburb I did a quick google search yesterday 
before I set off:
• Originally known as Potato Hill thanks to its spud farms, L. is a suburb 15 km southwest 
of the city centre, in the local government area of Canterbury
• Named after a local mayor’s property, which was in turn named after a Fijian island 
• General opinion is that L. is a Lebanese Muslim suburb when in fact it’s much more ethnically 
diverse with a large population of Vietnamese, Chinese, African, Indian and Pakistani 
• Religion wise, it has an almost even split between Christianity and Islam
• Made headlines during the 2005 Cronulla riots when religious and racial tensions came to a head.

‘Research’ completed I headed off, arriving at Lakemba around 40 minutes later...

when worlds collide

shopping for a frock


sweet love

piles of happiness

'for my prophet'


Had I found beauty in Lakemba? In the people I'd met, most definitely.

from far far away

And in the details of the red-brick Sydney I remember from my childhood when my nan would take 
me to Roselands, just around the corner from Lakemba, and buy me a bag of sweet multi-coloured 
popcorn and a couple of musk sticks.

sun worshippers

different religions

good fortune


  1. Looks fabulous Louise. Congratulations. Looking forward to joining you on your ramblings around the burbs (even if only in a virtual way......)

  2. Fantastic Louise! I look forward to journeying through the other suburbs with you and your keen eye. There's a definite suburban brick-colour palette in your shots - flowers, hair, dressses . . . bricks!

  3. Looks great :) I agree that there's a lot of beauty that is hidden everywhere. Look forward to following you on your journeys. n*

  4. Beautiful photos. I look forward to the next year of your travels

  5. I grew up in Lakemba, and strangely enough I know where some of those pics are from! I never had a problem in Lakemba and still remember the places where I played as a kid with some of the other boys in the street. My old house is still around but with a a garish (to me) shade of yellow paint around it - far from the red brick beauty it used to be (again, to me ;-).

    I really think you're onto something here with 52 suburbs, and I look forward to sharing it with you :-)


  6. I went to visit a friend who lives near Lakemba, & on our walk we went to the mosque. He took the kids up into the main part with the huge ceiling where the men were praying. I followed the sign around the back for ladies, and walked up the stairs to the back room where the women and children go. It was interesting to see.
    My friend said to the men 'May Peace Be With You' in Arabic.

  7. A couple of years ago I also realised how little of Sydney I have really seen despite growing up here. So I decided that whenever I have a spare Saturday or Sunday I would get in my car and drive to a suburb I've never been before to spend some time just walking around soaking it up. (Cabramatta and Cronulla were some of my first picks too, funnily enough.)

    This morning I went to Lakemba for the first time to have a bit of stroll around (and had a great meal there too at Jasmins). During the drive home I heard your interview on FBI, and here I am looking at your brilliant blog. Your photos are fantastic and I love how you comment via your diptych + caption format. So much more interesting than simply a collection of photos.

    I'm looking forward to seeing the rest of your project unfold. Brilliant work.

  8. Anon
    That must have been strange, driving back from exploring Lakemba and hearing someone talk about exploring Lakemba! So glad you like the blog.

  9. I think this is my favourite so far... awe-inspiring.

  10. It was a rather surreal coincidence. I pulled over listen. Hopefully you'll give me ideas for other cool places I can visit.

    Good on you Louise.

  11. I live in Belmore, Lakemba's neighbour. Thank you for making the trek to these parts. Lakemba is true boheme!

  12. I was born at Canterbury Hospital in 1963 and lived in Sproule Street all my life. I went to Lakemba Infants and Publics Schools till 1975.
    I like Lakemba's central location, vibrant atmosphere, sentimental value (for me!) and all the nice historical buildings. Owen.

    1. I went to lakemba public school in the 60s and I remember the shop across the road where we got chips and scollops for 10c I think the owners were called the kirbys

    2. OMG! Been searching high and low for anyone who went to Lakemba Public School during mid sixties as I also attended school back then! Born in Canterbury hospital, 1960, my sister, 1958.
      The shop you mentioned was indeed run by the Kirby's, my Nan knew them as she lived just behind the shop in Samuel Street.
      My sister and I lived on Haldon Street....great memories!

  13. I grew up in Lakemba in the 50's and 60's. Different but the same. We watched the different waves of immigrants move into the houses next door. Changed from European to Asian to Middle Eastern over the years. Essentially the same old Lakemba though. A great big melting pot, big enough to take the world and all its got, as the song says.