Monday, May 30, 2011


Yesterday I was in Beirut. You may have thought, like me, that once I shook the beach sand of SoCal from between my toes and boarded a plane for Sydney that I would end up in the land of the Ocker. But having a (very good) reason to visit the Sydney suburb of Arncliffe, I discovered my error.

Lebanese Sweets - the motherlode

Arncliffe, a suburb of Sydney ostensibly about 11 kilometres from the CBD, is home to a large community of Lebanese migrants, and a walk around its streets is in fact a million miles from the Sydney CBD. Kebab shops, halal butchers, Lebanese sweets, ladies in hijab, large families heading to church, posters encouraging you to attend a rally to support the Third Palestinian Intifada...yep, Little Beirut.

Arncliffe Park
 Arncliffe is a very early settlement for Sydney, with the first European inhabitants of the area settling in 1825. A property developer in the 1840s established the community and named it after a small village in Yorkshire, nostalgic for his home. As a result, Arncliffe boasts some lovely old houses from the Federation period and earlier and the railway station building, opened in 1884, has been preserved. Arncliffe Park – soon to be the venue for a Very Important Four Year Old’s birthday party - was once the market garden of one Kim Too, and became a public park in 1889.

Al-Zahra Mosque, Arncliffe
The original settlers in Arncliffe were English, Irish, Chinese and German; from the 1960s there have been waves of other settlers, from Greek and Macedonia, and – as is abundantly clear from my walk – Lebanon and the Middle East. The variety of immigrants is evident in the places of worship: the spires of St David's Anglican Church and St Francis Xavier's Catholic Church are visible over the rooftops; St Mark's Coptic Orthodox Church is located opposite Arncliffe Park; and then there is Al-Zahra Mosque, the Arncliffe Uniting Church and the Masjid Darul Imaan Mosque. I didn’t actually see the mosques, but from pictures they look pretty cool. Why travel all the way to the Levant when you can visit Arncliffe?

Kebab in the making...

Happy kebab eaters 
The kebab shop I did visit – “you wanna drinks wid dat, boss?” – and a popular spot it was too on a Saturday afternoon. And why was I visiting Arncliffe (apart from the kebabs)? Because it is now the address of a special young lady who seemed to rather like the dress I brought her from Paris.

Pandora and the Flower Girl Interpretative Dance Routine;

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