Multicultural Bonnyrigg

Discover Three Temples in Bonnyrigg, Sydney

Two years ago, a woman I met in Cabramatta on my very first walk suggested I visit Bonnyrigg. At last I am on my way there, looking for temples, a mosque and a heritage building.

The bus driver knows he’s late remarking that ” the man with the dog” will be cranky because of his lateness. Sure enough, as soon as the man and his black Labrador service dog are seated, he complains “You are late mate. Get a move on”.

Bonnyrigg Heights

Café Harvest in the Bonnyrigg Garden Centre is the perfect place for a late breakfast and I settle for the wild mushrooms on sourdough. The generous serving is tasty and the coffee welcome.

Bonnyrigg Garden Centre

You can have your function here

Bonnyrigg Garden Centre

Want a pig for your garden?

Bonnyrigg Garden Centre

The huge range of plants, potted colour, landscaping supplies and garden ornaments are very tempting. Fortunately, I am using public transport or I’d be leaving with a boot load of plants.

Bonnyrigg Sports Club

Elizabeth Drive is a busy dual carriageway road and not particularly interesting apart from the modern orange, white and glass building of the Bonnyrigg Sports Club. The Club Sign is written in English, Asian characters and an unfamiliar alphabet which turns out to be Serbian Cyrillic.

The Bonnyrigg Sports Club was first built as a club for the Serbian Community and is now The Serbian National Centre in Australia trading as The Bonnyrigg Sports Club.

Bonnyrigg Heights

Pavement in Bonnyrigg Heights

Bonnyrigg Heights

Modern Homes

This area is actually Bonnyrigg Heights where the mostly brick homes are large and modern. White lions guard driveways, religious statues adorn the occasional garden and there are more than a few fountains in front yards. Many homes have electric entry gates.

Bonnyrigg House

Painted white with green trim, Bonnyrigg House which was a two storey Georgian Home and now has additions front and back, is quite different from the surrounding homes. Standing behind a wooden paling fence, the original home, the Masters House of the first Boys Orphanage in Australia, can still be seen between the additions.

Privately owned and heritage listed, it is thought to be the oldest building in Fairfield City Council. I reflect on the young orphaned boys who were housed here and wonder how well they were cared for and where they ended up.

Bonnyrigg House

Bonnyrigg House

Assyrian Memorial

Assyrian Memorial

Assyrian Memorial

Back across Elizabeth Drive in a grassed area lined with trees, is a memorial statue dedicated to the up to 300 000 who died in the Assyrian Genocide by the Ottoman Empire during WW1. War seems so senseless.

Temples of Bonnyrigg

Walking to the first of three Temples, I pass the Parkside Church which is a low brick building with a couple of curved walls. This Baptist Church advertises itself as a church for all nations.

Wat Phrayortkeo Dhammayanaram Lao Buddhist Temple

Next door, the Wat Phrayortkeo Dhammayanaram Lao Buddhist Temple is quite a contrast. This tall white rectangular building with a pitched roof of red and green tiles is trimmed with stripes of red and gold. Open mouthed dragons guard the flight of stairs up to the temple, their black and gold tails decorating the bannister. Tall pillars support the roof on all sides.

Wat Phrayortkeo Dhammayanaram Lao Buddhist Temple

Wat Phrayortkeo Dhammayanaram Lao Buddhist Temple

Wat Phrayortkeo Dhammayanaram Lao Buddhist Temple

Buddha

At first, I’m intimidated by the “No Trespassing” sign but take the plunge and walk through the gates. An old man digs weeds from between the brick paving. Women prepare food in a back hall while monks in saffron robes go about their chores. A tall gold Buddha sits cross legged beneath a decorative roof behind the temple. The nearby wall is lined with black plaques with photographs in oval frames. It is a columbarium wall for the cremated remains of loved ones.

My route to Bibbys Place takes me through Bonnyrigg Town Centre Park complete with a flying fox, sculptures, a small lake with waterbirds and a skateboard park. An older couple push a little girl on the swing. Their babysitting duty has only just started.

Bonnyrigg Town Centre Park

Water birds nest here

Bonnyrigg Town Centre Park

Walkway

Bonnyrigg Turkish Mosque

Bibbys Place hosts a number of centres of worship. The Bonnyrigg Christian Church (which doubles up as the Grace Point Chinese Presbyterian Church) is next door to the Bonnyrigg Turkish Mosque. The Mosque unfortunately is closed up. I wander around outside and discover a set of rules informing visitors about Mosque Etiquette.

Bonnyrigg Turkish Mosque

Not yet open

Vietnamese Cultural Centre and Turkish Mosque

Mosque and Vietnamese Cultural Centre Side by Side

Amongst other things, visitors should not enter with wet feet or dirty clothing and should not enter into needless conversation. “Sisters” should not enter inappropriately dressed and should wear a headscarf. I have forgotten mine and decide to leave.

The Vietnamese Community Cultural Centre

Next door is the Vietnamese Community Cultural Centre. Within only a few hundred metres of each other I have found a Baptist Church, a Lao Buddhist Temple, a Chinese Presbyterian Church, a Turkish Mosque and a Vietnamese Cultural Centre. How extraordinary to discover such a cultural mix side by side?

Vietnamese Community Cultural Centre

Vietnamese Community Cultural Centre

Vietnamese Ngoc Lu Drum

Copy of Ngoc Lu Drum

Adjoining the Cultural Centre car park, a low white wall with a black pole fence between columns topped with lotus flowers surrounds a simple brick building. I wonder about it and then am distracted by a sculptural artwork. “All the World in one Place” by Marian Abboud encourages reflection on the commonalities shared between communities in one place.

“"All the World in one Place” by Marian Abboud

“All the World in one Place”

Vietnamese Phap Bao Buddhist Temple

What a pity I didn’t investigate the brick building further. I later discovered that it is the Vietnamese Phap Bao Buddhist Temple, the first purpose-built Buddhist Temple in Australia.

This area I am walking through now, is rather less salubrious than Bonnyrigg Heights. The small almost identical houses are poorly maintained and rows of town houses hide behind old wooden fences. Perhaps this is social housing.

Social Housing in Bonnyrigg?

Simple Home

Newleaf Development

Across Bunker Park to Newleaf Development

Newleaf Development

On the other side of Tarlington Reserve with its football oval and kiddy’s playground is a whole new development called Newleaf. It is a mix of social and private housing which hopes to create a vibrant community. The lovely new Bunker Park complete with basketball and handball courts is part of the Newleaf development.

Mingyue Lay Chinese Buddhist Temple

The Mingyue Lay Chinese Buddhist Temple on Cabramatta Road  has an imposing entrance ‘gate’ which leads to large grassed grounds, a number of halls and pagodas.

Mingyue Lay Chinese Buddhist Temple

Elaborate Gate

Mingyue Lay Chinese Buddhist Temple

Offerings to Buddha

The scent of incense fills the air. People move from place of prayer to another praying and giving offerings of fruit, cooking oil and even rice. Hundreds of tags with red and yellow tassels hang from the wishing trees, blowing in the breeze.

In one hall, a man shows me an urn (containing ashes) in one of the hundreds of golden niches whose doors are decorated with Buddha. A woman explains to me the functions of the various prayer halls and tells me about the different faces of Buddha. She suggests I visit the main hall upstairs.

Mingyue Lay Chinese Buddhist Temple

Artwork at the Temple

Mingyue Lay Chinese Buddhist Temple

Can you see Buddha through the pillars?

There a young woman stands with her arms above her head holding two sticks of incense aloft. She bows deeply to the Buddha in front of her, repeating the action in front of the other gold Buddhas around the room. A mum with two little children, each holding an incense stick shows them how to pray and what to say as they move from one Buddha to another. A third woman is kneeling and vigorously shaking a tube of what seems to be bamboo sticks. The three main Buddhas have a red swastika painted on their chests. This Buddhist symbol represents ‘eternal cycling’.

Third Temple in Bonnyrigg

On my way to the last temple of the day I pass Bonnyrigg High School. There, a girl embarrassed at me watching her climbing a pole with her friends looking on, says “Don’t mind us Ma’am”. Then, they all collapse in uncontrollable laughter.

Along Tarlington Parade is a sad looking run-down play area decorated with Aboriginal artwork. The bench is falling apart and the grass is full of bindies which pierce my trousers as I bend to take a photo.

Aboriginal Artwork in Bonnyrigg

Run down

Vat Khemarangsaram Cambodian Buddhist Temple

At the Vat Khemarangsaram Cambodian Buddhist Temple, the last of the parishioners are preparing to leave. One tells me that had I come earlier “the monks would have opened up the Temple, but they are resting now”. The building is very similar in style to the Lao Temple that I visited today. Instead of dragons, here serpents adorn the balustrades.

Vat Khemarangsaram Cambodian Buddhist Temple

Detail of Cambodian Temple

Vat Khemarangsaram Cambodian Buddhist Temple

Is this multi headed creature welcoming?

Pleased to have explored Bonnyrigg

Today has been fascinating. I have visited three temples, one mosque and passed a couple of churches, all within walking distance of each other. Bonnyrigg certainly has a wonderful diversity and is well worth taking time out to explore.

If you enjoyed discovering the temples and mosque of Bonnyrigg, you will enjoy the Mosques at Auburn and Lakemba and perhaps the Bible Garden at Palm Beach
Next stop: Castlecrag

Useful information:

Plan your trip at transportnsw.info

All the temples and the mosques are open to visitors – best to call first.

  • Bonnyrigg Garden Centre is on the corner of Wilson Road and Elizabeth Drive
  • Bonnyrigg House is at in Cartwright Street Bonnyrigg Heights
  • The Lao Temple is at 711-715 Smithfield Road
  • The Turkish Mosque is in Bibbys Place as is the Vietnamese Community Cultural Centre
  • The Chinese Temple is at 654 Cabramatta Road.
  • The Cambodian Temple is at 68 Tarlington Parade

If you would like the detailed day notes that I used, email me via the contact form. Please note that they are a guide only.

And a map to assist your walk through Bonnyrigg: (You can download it here)
(Note that this is a guide only and that the time indicated on the map does not allow for any stops. I take an average of 4-5 hours when I explore):

Comments

    1. Author

      Thanks Chris. The bus ride certainly made me chuckle. The driver knew many of his regular passengers and chatted to them along the way.

  1. I have seen pictures of the Assyrian Genocide memorial before, but did not realize that its located in Bonnyrigg, Australia. The subject comes up ever so often with the Turks denying that any such thing took place. This area looks like a melting pot of cultures and an interesting place to visit. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Author

      I wonder if it’s the same memorial? Yes, Bonnyrigg is an interesting place to visit and inspires one to learn more about Buddhism.

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