An attempt to visit every suburb in Sydney.

It’s election season once again, which means that the good people of Australia have to endure politicians kissing babies, TV commercials...

2019 Federal Election Special Part 1: Cabramatta

It’s election season once again, which means that the good people of Australia have to endure politicians kissing babies, TV commercials with foreboding voiceovers and ominous sound effects, and text messages from a billionaire named Clive. When all's said and done, we might end up with the unfamiliar situation of a new Prime Minister by means of election, rather than leadership spill.

And what better way to celebrate the functioning of our plucky little democracy than to spend some time in Sydney’s Labor-est and Liberal-est suburbs?

Which suburb had the strongest support for Labor? 

For the purposes of the 2019 Completing Sydney Election Special, I’ll be looking at data released by the AEC on the last Federal Election back in 2016. The AEC releases results down to the individual polling place, and for this entirely unscientific post, I’m looking at which polling booth had the highest portion of first preference Labor voters.

Eliminating the "weird" polling places (such as votes collected in hospitals and in pre-polls) as well as electoral divisions outside of Sydney, we get our results.

Without dilly-dallying any further, the polling place with the honour (or dishonour depending on your political leanings) of the strongest Labor vote in 2016 was in the Southwest suburb of…


Sitting in the Fowler division, the Cabramatta Polling Place saw a confident 70.5% of its votes come in with a "number 1" against the local Labor candidate.

A 46 minute train ride from Central (31 if you manage to get on the faster train which I missed) landed me in the suburb.

Every time I come to this suburb it's busy, and today was no different, with plenty of foot and car traffic greeting me as soon as I exited the station.

Cabramatta is most famous as the Vietnamese capital of Sydney, and there is evidence of this immediately, between the bargain priced pork rolls,

stores with Vietnamese writing,

and a whole bunch of Vietnamese fabric stores.

This is still the quiet bit of the suburb's commercial area, and we'll get stuck into the real bustle soon, but for now I headed north, parallel to the train line (and traffic jam).

On the way, I saw a hell of an assortment of stuff, such as this beautiful mural of the Vietnamese city Hoi An,

an interesting library building and sign,

a munch and move service,

and finally, the Cabramatta PCYC, home of the polling place which inspired my visit. Cabramatta has always been very much a working class area, and so it would make sense that the people here gravitated towards Labor.

Next door to the PCYC is Cabra-Vale Memorial Park which, as the name may suggest, sits at the (Cabramatta side of) the border between Cabramatta and Canley Vale.

This is actually a great park, with space to play various sports

and a kids playground.

Concerningly, the war memorial in the park has been taken over by a gang of ibises. Approach at your own caution.

Across the road from the park is the Chinese Teo Chew Association Inc. I don't know what that is, but they've got a cool building so I'll allow it.

Finally, I began the short walk back to the suburb's commercial area, past a few modest flats.

As soon as you hit Cabramatta's commercial centre, you know you've arrived. This is the main plaza marking the town centre and today it was especially crazy.

There were even drums and dragon dancers. Video tells the story much better than photo here.

 Amongst all the crowds and drums I worked up an appetite. It's practically illegal to come to Cabramatta and not eat a bowl of pho, so I jumped into this place, Pho 54, right on the main plaza.

This place is as "hole in the wall" as it gets, but that suits me fine.

If you're somehow not in the know, pho is an amazing Vietnamese noodle soup of very light and fragrant beef broth. It has rare beef inside which finishes cooking in the hot soup.

You always get a few condiments with it, including bean sprouts, Thai basil, lemon and chili for adding into your soup as desired.

This was definitely a solid pho.

No Vietnamese meal is complete without an accompanying iced coffee. Vietnamese iced coffee is made by making strong black coffee, and pouring it over a glass of ice and condensed milk. The result is always a slap in the face of caffeine, sugar and delicious.

Total price for the lunch and coffee? $15. Western Sydney is great.

Back out onto the plaza, the parade had dispersed, making it much more convenient to explore.

It turns out that the reason for all of the fanfare today was the celebration of Buddha's birthday, which was a little awkward for me as I forgot to bring a gift. Regardless, happy birthday Buddha.

Also on the plaza is the Cabramatta No 1 Shopping Centre. It would be rude not to visit, they're number one after all.

The business here is food.

That can be fresh food,

food someone else has cooked.

or even just a funky cake.

In general, food is big business in Cabramatta, with both Master Chef (although I didn't see that dude in the cravat) and another food court just next door, offering plenty more options.

Exiting the plaza onto the main shopping street, the liveliness continues.

There was a time in the past where Cabramatta (or "Stabramatta", as some dubbed it) was known for being an unpleasant place you'd never want to go. That time is very much in the past now, and the suburb is absolutely bustling.

Cabramatta's the kind of suburb where you can shop for the latest in questionable fashion.

Cabramatta's the kind of suburb full of endless nooks buzzing with life.

Cabramatta's the kind of suburb where you can buy adorably tiny suits,

and avocado shakes (which, by the way, are really good but unbelievably filling).

They've even got a solid Cambodian presence, with over 8% of the local population born in Cambodia as of the 2016 census. Where else can you run into Khmer writing while out and about?

Cabramatta is one of Sydney's single most exciting suburbs. If you're a Sydneysider and you've never been here, where the bloody hell are you?

Cabramatta: Throw away your passport, you don't need it anymore.

But alas, this is the election special!

That means I now have to travel over an hour and a half on two trains and a bus to the city's blue corner...

Join me on Sunday for the extremely different, and yet equally Sydney suburb with the strongest Liberal vote.

In the meantime, please share this with your friends using the links under the map below. If you're not already, consider subscribing to the blog using one of the links at the top of the page. That will make sure you don't miss part 2 of this idiot's electoral journey across the city.

Update: Continue to part 2 here!


  1. The Teochew Association is a place where "Teochew" people associate! Teochew people are a dialect group from Southern China - from the same region as Cantonese people but speaking a different language. There was a large historical migration of them to South East Asia, including Vietnam - so just as there is a large Vietnamese population in Cabramatta, there is also a large Teochew Chinese-Vietnamese population in Cabramatta as well.

    But I've never been in that Association Hall - I assume there's a lot of Chinese old guys hanging around! I actually don't know what they do there.

    1. Oh, interesting! Thanks for the info :)