Mixing it up in Bennelong

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  • Published 20100802
  • ISBN: 9781921656170
  • Extent: 264 pp
  • Paperback (234 x 153mm), eBook

OUTSIDE EASTWOOD VILLAGE Superfresh, a cavernous fruit and vegetable store, a ruddy-faced Italian in a leather apron is spruiking the day’s specials to a stream of Chinese shoppers. In the nearby pedestrian mall, two Korean teenagers – one with dyed-blond locks, the other wearing an outsized set of headphones – stalk past a Caucasian couple drinking coffee at an outdoor table. Clasping his mother’s hand, a spiky-haired Chinese toddler suddenly yells out: ‘Aussie Aussie Aussie, Oi Oi Oi!’

It could be an advertisement for multiculturalism in twenty-first-century Australia, yet a decade or so ago the scene in Eastwood, in Sydney’s inner north-west, was quite different. Most of the Asian groceries, herbal medicine shops and noodle bars jostling for space on Rowe Street, the main commercial drag, did not exist; the signs were predominantly in English, and the faces were almost uniformly white. Now first-generation migrants make up nearly half of Eastwood’s population, while the federal parliamentary seat of Bennelong, within which the suburb is located, is one of Australia’s most diverse, home to people from at least sixty countries.

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