Monday, January 18, 2010

suburb No 19: Lidcombe

... and a whole load of churches, three of which I poked my nose into on Sunday - more of that later.

History of Lidcombe in brief: Dharug people 'moved on' by European settlers - largest cemetery in the

Southern Hemisphere established - industry boomed towards end of the 19th century, a mix of abattoir, 
engineering and funereal - then manufacturing - Irish replaced by Europeans, who were joined by the 
Asian and Middle Eastern. Today, a big Ukrainian and Korean presence.

I found the suburb a strange mix of many churches, massive industry, an even larger cemetery and 

almost-impossible-to-navigate roads. Oh, and one delightfully retro swimming pool...

Part 1: Religious Lidcombe

Like many people I find religious buildings of any persuasion to be visual feasts. But not being religious 

myself I'm also intrigued by both the power of faith and all the ceremony involved.

So when I discovered that Lidcombe's cup runneth over with churches - three of which looked like 

they'd been transported from exotic lands far away - I was tickled pink. So much so I decided to 
do something I never do - put on a nice frock and go to church.

How was it? Well, it's a foreign experience for me at the best of times. But I really felt like a fish out 

of water in these churches, two from Eastern Europe and one from the Middle East.

I was welcomed by one, tolerated by another and more or less rejected by the third. I'm not taking 

it personally - it is their special domain after all and yes, I was wielding a camera - but I found the 
different reactions interesting nonetheless. 

inside out  (St Andrew's Ukrainian Catholic Church)

far from Ukraine but right at home  (St Andrew's Ukrainian Catholic Church)

different religions  (St Andrew's Ukrainian Catholic Church and Nepalese symbol)

inside out  (St Ephraim Syrian Orthodox Cathedral)

see the light  (St Ephraim Syrian Orthodox Cathedral)

through a veil (St Ephraim Syrian Orthodox Cathedral)

when you're 90 years old the only way is up (St Ephraim Syrian Orthodox Cathedral)

it's the St Basilica of the tropics  (Russian Old Rite Christian Orthodox Church)

the good book  (Russian Old Rite Christian Orthodox Church)

onion domes  (Russian Old Rite Christian Orthodox Church)

that's how it felt  (Russian Old Rite Christian Orthodox Church)

By the way, I can't show you any pics inside the Russian church because I wasn't allowed - apparently
no photos are ever allowed inside, even if you're as Russian orthodox as can be. A pity because
it's pretty amazing - there are no pews as per your normal church, so you get a clear view of all
the honey-gold wood panelling and rich, colourful iconography.

many lives  (former Masonic Hall turned Islamic youth centre turned Korean church)

for the salvos (Salvation Army)

he's even got a hand in the construction business

Amen indeed

Part 2: Sporty Lidcombe

Starting with the local swimming pool complex where I met kids from backgrounds as mixed as the 

pool's multi-coloured tiles. I loved the pool's 1959-ness, which by the way, while called the Auburn 
Swimming Centre (or Ruth Everuss Aquatic Centre) is actually in Lidcombe. Skip this section if retro 
turns your stomach...




men in pink



bad time to get vertigo

motherly love (stained glass from St Andrew's Ukrainian Catholic Church)

calm before the storm


Aside from the fabulous fun pool, the sporty side of Lidcombe comes out in the oval and the various 
parks, perfect places for a Saturday morning game of soccer, Korean style...

No 19

red and black

Liddy Oval

No 10

the soccer player and the altar boy

different religions

Part 3: Industrial Lidcombe

A patterned wall and an old warehouse caught my eye...

nice wall

nice warehouse


the front door

save the warehouse

say a prayer for the old and characterful

Not really industrial but similarly old and fading...

signs of a former life (the old hospital and an old sign)

Part 4: Diverse Lidcome

In the short time I spent in the suburb I met people from all over the world - Nepalese, Korean, Chinese, 

Turkish, Russian, Ukrainian, Syrian, Lebanese and Palestinian...

mixed backgrounds

the boy from Zimbabwe and the kid from Korea

from Russia with love - "me and my auntie"

alphabet (Nepalese and Korean)

a couple from China

aloha from Lidcombe from the Turkish man in the Hawaiian shirt

Korean petal

Part 5: Departing from Lidcome

You can leave Lidcombe via seven railway lines - or feet first to the Rookwood Cemetary, properly 

known as Rookwood Necropolis (City of the Dead). As much as I like a good cemetery, I didn't 
dally, the tragedy of Haiti swirling in my mind and the tens of thousands who won't rest in peace 
in a proper grave.

adds a little life to the place

spend more time here and you might spend less here

nicest house in the (cemetery's) street

I did find beauty in the 'burb of Lidcombe - the churches and the zany pool were highlights. But 
you can't help thinking as you walk around an almost deserted town centre that it has suffered 
greatly from the draw of larger shopping centres and seems almost too quiet. It's busy around 
the train station and then nothing, it just sort of peters out. As always, that's just my opinion
- I'm always happy to hear other points of view.

I'm doing a fine job of missing my Friday deadline these past few weeks but I hope to post again 
this Friday - see you then.


  1. You are so clever! I love the onion dome, Amen, Men in Pink... All of them in fact.

    Thank you and keep them coming.

    x dana

  2. Thank you Dana. I can't get over those onions, just sitting there in suburbia - or the swimming pool tiles.

  3. Once again I am in awe!
    Your brain must be going at 110ks an hour and in circles I reckon. What stands out for me this week is the photo of mother and child in a church then a mother and child in the pool... You need a computer in your head to take one photo in one place then another later somewhere else and match them up! Wonderful wonderful stuff! Thanks again Louise :-)

  4. I love these! Just discovered your blog and will definitely be checking back often. Thanks for brightening my day :)

  5. Pennie and David
    I love that photo too - didn't realise it had a perfect partner until I got home and put them all up on the screen. The boys in the two shots are even wearing the same red trousers/shorts.

    Hannah Sadie - So glad I've brightened your day.


  6. This is a wonderful project, the photos excellent. I am glad I discovered your site, and will visit often.

  7. That photo of the chinese couple is maybe my favourite of all the photos on your blog. It is so so lovely.

  8. That pool is really amazing. The tiling, the rails, everything about it makes me want to go there! As always...another wonderful post....

  9. I think your visit to Lidcombe is currently my favourite amongst some real gems on 52 Suburbs, maybe because I've always thought of Lidcombe as rather a grim place, and you've proved me wrong in the most beautiful way.

  10. What a shame you couldn't take photos in the Russian Church. I'm so enjoying your weekly blogs. Many thanks.

  11. FABULOUS as always.
    So many shots to love -
    the old fella in St Andrews
    the Korean petal,
    'see the light'
    I think 'fun' is my favourite - just makes me smile.
    Love all the shots of the pools too.
    You're just too clever.

  12. To all you GORGEOUS people - just want you to know how each and EVERY one of these comments motivates me and keeps me going. While my site meter might tell me that thousands visit each week it's the individual responses that really mean something. So thank you!


  13. Just came across your blog and loving it! You have such a creative "eye" and can see the unusual and interesting in the most everyday objects. I've been many times to the pool at Lidcombe and never saw the beauty of those tiles until now. Can't wait to see where you're going next week!

  14. love your photos : you have a lovely sense of colour, composition and subject

    A joy to view



  15. Just discovered your blog through the SBS article. What a fabulous idea for a blog and you take beautiful photographs!

  16. i'm totally hooked on your blog - can't wait for the next 'surprise' 'burb!

  17. Thank you all! I am running late as usual - it will probably be Sunday for Suburb No 20. Wow, suddenly that seems like a lot - 20 - but that's not even half way there!

  18. Love the fact you have covered both Lidcombe and Auburn, I grew up in between these two suburbs and now live right next to Newtown! learnt to swim in the Lidcombe pool. I never viewed it as retro until i saw your photos!

    Great Work! Can't wait for the next entry!

  19. Wow! I work at Auburn Library and manage the Local History Photographic Collection there. We would love to have some of your photos in our collection, as they really capture the some of the wonderful things about the culture and heritage of Lidcombe.

    Do you mind if I get in touch with you by email to discuss the possibility?

  20. Thanks Louise! I'm visiting Melbourne at the moment and I know they think they do it better than us, but I think you're blog proves we've got a helluva lot more to offer :)

  21. I'm so glad you made a post about Lidcombe. I live near Lidcombe and went to school at Regents Park, so my train would pass by that orthodox church everyday. I've always thought it was beautiful and a little bit imposing.

    My school would have our swimming carnivals at Lidcombe pool. I've always thought it was extremely ugly, until I saw your photos and saw it under a completely different light o__O

    Great photos once again!

  22. Chezzled - I don't know Melbourne well - I wonder if they have the same level of diversity?
    Ria - So glad I changed your opinion of Lidcombe's gorgeous pool! And yes, that church is wild. Yet I've never seen an image of it before. Strange.

  23. Just in love with your style, your photographs your whimsical captions. Loving the breeze block, how come its got so under rated anyhow? Can you come to Newcastle and portray the beauty here pleeeease.

  24. I have lived in Lidcombe all my life and have seen and worked at the pool, Lidcombe Oval and in surrounding areas. You are right Lidcombe come to life only when a bit event is on at Olympic Park. the demographics have changed since the early 80's when Rugby League dominated the area with the famous Wests Magpies out of Lidcombe oval. Enjoyed your little adventure.

  25. I love what you are doing Louise, it's terrific.

    The Auburn pools sure bring back memories... So many summers spent there as a child. And so great to see it again in all its retro glory.

    In the 70's early 8O's it was tragically outdated, but now an aquatic time capsule...

    Made me laugh thinking of how many times Simpsons-esque prank calls for people such as Tess Tickle (and much worse) were called over the loudspeakers at the pools.

    Ahhh, them were the days.


  26. hello Louise,
    not sure if you read late comments on your early posts but as soon as this one made me feel connected (reading & writing this from Russia) I thought I'd say 'hi'.
    Discovered your blog lately and now enjoying it day by day, burb by burb. All the possible good words have been said already but ... again, thanks a lot for bringing smiles into every day:-) And congratulations about the book!

    As for that orthodox church... same story all over here in Russia - no pews, no smiles, no cameras! So it's probably kind of 'corporate tendency':-)

    good luck in whatever you do now.

  27. You have a brilliant eye for capturing amazing images, I love your photos, thank you. AMK

  28. I was raised in Lidcombe.(born Auburn District Hospital 1964)You did a terrific job!!!(btw Only suburb in the world called Lidcombe..)Thank you for some great memories.

  29. I grew up around here (Berala) and lived down the road from the pool for some time. We had many tears, swimming lessons and school carnivals here, but I never realised how fabulously retro it was until I saw your photos - lots of memories there! I was also born in Auburn Hospital (1981) and in my short life have seen many changes to the area, I remember when they built the imposing Mosque and seeing the Russian onion tops spring up - it was very unusual to me as a child but maybe that's why now I have the travel bug and love so many different cultures. Thanks for the wonderful nostalgia, I am sitting here in London and feel like home is just around the corner...

  30. A great read! About 2km south of the station, still in Lidcombe, is a new housing development on the site of the former Lidcombe hospital, with some heritage areas retained