Travelling on my Doorstep: Bankstown Bites

There are times for us when life becomes too, well…. familiar and we are eager to mix things up with new and different experiences. We want our kids to enjoy trying new things, be curious about learning about new cultures and be hungry to experience everything that this world has to offer.

In Sydney we are lucky to have ready access to suburbs, festivals and events that give us the opportunity to ‘travel the world’ and experience all of this on our own doorstep.

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Bankstown Bites is one of these festivals. Living up to its reputation as one of Sydney’s best and most loved food festivals, it attracts over 7,000 people each year. 15 minutes by train from home, our family had never before visited Bankstown but it was the perfect outing for us to get our ‘travel’ hit.

From the moment we stepped off the train we immediately felt like we had begun travelling. We had that ‘lost’ feeling were everything and everyone was unfamiliar and, whilst everyone around us was walking purposefully in all directions, we were wandering with google maps opened on our phone trying to find our bearings.

Asian men play board games in the square
Asian men play board games in the square

The first thing that struck us about Bankstown town centre was how Vietnamese influenced it was with fruit & vegetable shops stocked with foul smelling Durian, sugarcane juicing stands and Asian dessert tea stores lining the streets.

Memorial to Vietnamese refugees who lost their lives at sea
Memorial to Vietnamese refugees who lost their lives at sea

There were crowds of older Asian men playing a version of checkers in the square and we also came across a sobering memorial to the many Vietnamese refugees who lost their lives at sea en-route to Australia. But, there is also a great diversity in Bankstown with many other newly arrived immigrants joining the community, as evidenced by some of the clothing stores in town stocking hijabs.

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A local clothing store
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Bankstown Bites

Once we arrived at the Bankstown Bites Festival the kids embraced the food-tasting experience with gusto… well one of them did!  We tried Nepali Momos, Vietnamese grilled beef in betel leaf, sugarcane prawns, Spanish Churros and Korean rice.

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All the ingredients of Korean rice
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Trying Nepali momos

The local council ran regular walking tours of local foodie gems such as Izvor Deli that stocks a large range of Slovenian, Macedonian and Croatian groceries and smallgoods; Valley View Continental Groceries and Spices – spice heaven! and Chehade El Bahsa & Sons Sweets – a legendary Lebanese pastry shop and family business reputed to be one of Sydney’s best.

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Grilled Beef skewers wrapped in betel leaf (delicious!) & sugarcane prawns
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Loving the sugarcane prawns
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You can’t go wrong with churros

There was such a diversity of people enjoying the festival and it was great fun selecting what food we wanted to try from the line of food stalls. We watched a cooking demonstration by Masterchef, Adam Liao and learnt tips for cooking in a wok; we saw amazing fruit & vegetable carvings, listened to live music and created Korean masks.

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Masterchef Adam Liao
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Amazing carvings
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Decorating a Korean mask

We had a great afternoon at Bankstown Bites, felt a million miles away from home and we got all the good bits of travelling without the jet-lag and the credit card bill. Sydney is warming up for a bumper suburban festival season full of multicultural celebrations- get out and try something new.

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