As seen when exploring Blacktown on a day walk through the Sydney Suburb

Blacktown: A day walk in a Sydney Suburb

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Earlier this year, when I came to Blacktown for an Urban Theatre production, I passed an Ethiopian restaurant. That’s when I decided I had to find out more about Blacktown. And so here I am on the train feeling more than a little bit anxious. Blacktown is quite foreign to me.

As seen when exploring Blacktown on a day walk through the Sydney Suburb

Part of “When moved we learn”

As seen when exploring Blacktown on a day walk through the Sydney Suburb

What language?

At the station, Police Officers are checking tickets. Only twice in 27 suburban discoveries have I seen police at a train station. The last time was when I went to Redfern. I wonder what that says about a suburb.

Following signs to Boys Drive, I walk past a mural “When moved we learn” created by local youth. The Indian Sweet shop, Royal Sweets, is not yet open. No sweets for me this time. Over the road, a steady stream of cars enters the car park of Good Luck Plaza, home of the Good Luck Fish Market, Good Luck Bakery, Good Luck BBQ (with a string of BBQ ducks in the window), Good Luck Hair Salon and Good Luck Butchery. Lucky cats in windows and on shop counters wave their paws. The written characters on the range of products in the G&L Supermarket appear to my untrained eye to be from different alphabets. It turns out the supermarket caters to people from all over Asia.

As seen when exploring Blacktown on a day walk through the Sydney Suburb

Brightens a wall in Blacktown

As seen when exploring Blacktown on a day walk through the Sydney Suburb

Blacktown Mosque

Further along the street, another mural makes an otherwise dull wall inviting. The colourful birds are naive in style. The building, the Sargents Centre is a facility for people with disabilities.

The minaret on the corner of a modern building makes the Blacktown Mosque easy to find. A sign on the fence advertises the Afghan Community Support Association. Over the road in the corner of a large park a small group of turbaned men are sitting on chairs. I suspect they are having a prayer meeting. Overcoming my anxiety, I approach them only to find that they are from Southern India, “having a gossip” in the sun. We chat a little while a woman in a sari and her husband and friend watch on.

On the way to the Radhe Indian Grocery a woman in a salwar kameez acknowledges me with a smile. The friendliness of local residents is warming. Inside the grocery store, garlands of flowers hang from the corners of rows of produce. In India, the flowers are real. Here they are plastic.

Met these friendly folk when exploring Blacktown on a day walk through the Sydney Suburb

Friendly people in Blacktown

Met these fine men when exploring Blacktown on a day walk through the Sydney Suburb

Enjoying the sun in Blacktown

The entrance to The Blacktown Showground Precinct is across a large intersection. A few young men play touch footy, mums enjoy the outdoor area with their children and a group of older people are picnicking. I press a button at the water play area. Water sprays from the coloured shapes and poles. A little girl runs towards the water, desperately chased by her carer. I am hungry, but am too late for breakfast and too early for lunch at The Grounds Keeper Café and keep going.

Discovered when exploring Blacktown on a day walk through the Sydney Suburb

Community Garden

As discovered when exploring Blacktown on a day walk through the Sydney Suburb

Water park

On the Southern side of the station, the shops are many and varied. Restaurants, like the many small grocery stores, reflect different cuisines and cultures. There are Indian, Arabic, African, Asian, Afghani and more. I can buy a colourful sari or get a henna tattoo. I venture into a couple of African stores that supply a range of goods from hair extensions to brightly coloured fabric and traditional clothing. The cans of Koo food products remind me of my youth. Hairdressers cater to African women. I poke my head into one. A client seems to be grimacing as her hair is pulled and braided. I’ve read this hair treatment is harsh.

Discovered when exploring Blacktown on a day walk through the Sydney Suburb

Fabulous Fabric

Enjoyed a new cuisine when exploring Blacktown on a day walk through the Sydney Suburb

Interior of Blue Nile

Two Ethiopian restaurants sit almost side by side. This is why I came to Blacktown. To experience Ethiopian food for the first time. I decide on Blue Nile. Next time I’ll give Abyssina (correct spelling) a go. I am the only white person there. I watch and learn that I am supposed to eat with my right hand after washing in the basin provided. A man walks in and goes straight to the basin at the back of the restaurant. He paves the way for me. A woman wearing a striking yellow top and long braids apologises to me after doing a jig to the music in her seat. Laughing, she explains that she lets go when in the company of other Ghanaians. I love her lack of inhibition.

I choose Yetakelt Beainetu, a combination of Ethiopian vegetarian dishes with injera (Ethiopian flatbread made from teff flour). My lunch arrives on a large round plastic plate. What looks like a thin beige sponge (the injera) lines the plate. On top of the injera are seven different vegetarian dishes including split peas, lentils, cabbage, spinach and salad. The injera tears easily and I deftly roll it around my chosen food with my right hand. The flavours are delicious.

Hints of Aboriginal presence as seen when exploring Blacktown on a day walk through the Sydney Suburb

Blacktown was named for the large Aboriginal population

History discovered when exploring Blacktown on a day walk through the Sydney Suburb

Original Blacktown Public School. Seemed empty.

After lunch, I drop into The Model Railroad Craftsmen. Parts for railroad hobbyists line the shelves. A man sits at a desk painting a train carriage. A woman explains that much of their business is online these days. Customers tend to come in only when they need advice.

At the Blacktown Arts centre, a wall garden of herbs greets me. A painted caravan is parked near the steps. The door is locked and there is no obvious exhibition hanging on the walls. The new exhibition starts in a week.

HInts of Aboriginal presence when exploring Blacktown on a day walk through the Sydney Suburb

The Village Green.

Enjoying the view on a day exploring Blacktown on a day walk through the Sydney Suburb

View from Cucina Revolving Restaurant

At the Workers Club, I can’t avoid the colourful lights of the pokies on my way to the lift. At least half of the machines are occupied. I can’t help but feel sad for the punters. Like many locals, they probably don’t even know that there is a revolving restaurant on the fifth floor. Cucina Locale serves Modern Australian cuisine as well as high tea. I can clearly see the Sydney Harbour Bridge in the distance and can make out Chatswood and North Sydney. While I savour my tea, the room revolves and the blue mountains come into view.

I walk past the restored Blacktown Public School on my way back to the station. I have had a great day out West and I can’t wait to bring my friends here. Oh…and I needn’t have worried. I felt quite welcome in Blacktown.

If you liked this post, you may also like to walk through

Gladesville               Summer Hill             La Perouse

A tribute to Australian Diggers discovered when exploring Blacktown on a day walk through the Sydney Suburb

More ANZAC street art

A tribute to Australian Diggers discovered when exploring Blacktown on a day walk through the Sydney Suburb

ANZAC street art.

Next stop: Marrickville

Useful information:

Click here to plan your trip.

Sometimes you have to go. I use any or all of the following: pubs or hotels, train stations (not always open or clean) and I always use the facilities when I have lunch. This map may be of use.

Blacktown Mosque: 15 Fourth Avenue, Blacktown

Radhe Indian Grocery: Unit 8/ 40 Third Ave, Blacktown

The Grounds Keeper Café Blacktown: Blacktown Showground Precinct, 49 Richmond Rd, Blacktown

The Blue Nile African Cuisine: 3a/115 Main St, Blacktown

Abyssina: 5/115 Main St, Blacktown

Model Railroad Craftsmen: 2/64-70 Main St (First Floor)

Cucina Locale Revolving Restaurant is open for lunch, high tea and dinner. Level 5/55 Campbell St, Blacktown.

Blacktown Arts Centre: 78 Flushcombe Road, Blacktown

And a map to assist you: (If you would like a pdf of the map, email me via the contact page, and I will send one to you).

(NOTE that the time indicated on the map does not allow for any stops. I take an average of 4-5 hours when I explore):

Blacktown (2)

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Comments

  1. Paula

    I love Ethiopian food but have never managed to find any in Sydney so perhaps I need to head out to Blacktown. Sounds like you had a lovely day.

    1. Author
      Joanne

      Yes, Paula I had a great day. I’m looking forward to going back with friends. And the train is a good way to get there. I tend to people watch or read a book.

    1. Author
      Joanne

      Yes, it is a long way from where I live, but I actually returned today to see an exhibition at the Art Centre. And to have another Ethiopian meal. I am so enjoying getting to know suburban Sydney.

    1. Author
      Joanne

      Thanks. Yes, I am rather partial to street art in general but this is special.

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