Cultural diversity of western Sydney showcased in interactive bus tour


What do an Anglican church and a Lebanese art deco cinema have in common? Well, they're part of the diverse architecture that makes Granville in Western Sydney one of Australia's most multicultural suburbs.

This month, Granville is showcasing its cultural diversity by offering interactive bus tours,  as part of Sydney's architecture festival.

Organisers of the Pearls of Granville Tour say their beloved suburb has been described in a number of ways over the years, but there's one thing it certainly isn't.

"It's not boring," says tour curator John Kirkman. "I think it's really special because it's a great representation of what Australia really is."

“When I grew up here it was mainly Anglo people. Now it's not. It's people from the Middle East, Africa, the Pacific, people who come to make Australia home live here.”

Granville's cultural transition can be seen in other ways, mainly through impressive and often overlooked buildings.

This month as part of the Sydney Architecture Festival tour groups will visit and hear from several guides in person and on iPads.

"We looked at particular sites that were originally frequented by the Anglo community and run by the Anglo community, and were all of a sudden taken over by the Lebanese, or Arab or Chinese community," tour curator Mouna Zaylah says.

"Their experience and engagement with the suburb hasn't been documented and we wanted to embark on that ourselves, hence the tour."

The stops include St Mark's Anglican church.

Its stain glassed windows don the names of parishoners who died in the first World War.

Today, they overlook extra Sunday services in Mandarin, Cantonese and Tongan.

Then there's the Blouza Community Hall named after a village in Lebanon.

It began life as the Crest Cinema before being converted to a bingo hall and ballroom.

And no extensive tour can be complete without a sample of the local cuisine. The Awafi Chicken shop is considered by some locals to have the best tasting chicken in Sydney.

And the locals themselves have their own stories to tell that spread across Australia and the world.

Tour bus driver Sam Sabsabi's family ran and lived above Australia's first Lebanese video store. He remembers what it was like growing up in the community.

"Customers were coming from WA and Melbourne and Brisbane," Sam Sabsabi says. "They heard about us and were ordering over the phone and shipping stuff all over Australia."

Watch the video story on YouTube: 

Source SBS

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