Southwestern Sydney refers to the large residential area to the south and west of Sydney, including the centres of Cabramatta and Liverpool. The district also covers the Canterbury-Bankstown area, but not the Macarthur suburbs.
There are a number of reasons for the traveller to head to the south-west of Sydney. The area constitutes the main road into Sydney from Melbourne and Canberra, and cheap roadside accommodation with parking is available, for those wishing to get a reasonable motel, and keep a car while in Sydney. The suburbs around Cabramatta and Bankstown give some of Sydney's best access to the mix of cultures that comprise Sydney.
The general rule of Sydney public transport applies - that the closer you remain to the city centre the greater the likelihood of public transport being an effective way of getting there. Buses and train lines thin out in both density and frequency the further out towards the south-west suburbs you head, however for the careful transport planner, you can manage to get to most destinations without a car.
The M5 is the major Sydney freeway to the southwest. If you are travelling out from the city towards the south-west for a day trip you'll be moving against the peak, and can expect a quick run on the motorway. However, if you staying along the Hume Highway for some cheap accommodation to access Sydney, the M5 could be your nemesis. Travel times can easily triple during peak commute times.
If you are planning to arrive from Canberra or Melbourne and are flying out of Sydney early, and have the idea to save on accommodation by stopping overnight 20 minutes short of the airport, then take care. You may be bumper-to-bumper with people who had the same thought as you in the M5-east tunnel while your flight is departing.
The South Line offers frequent train services to Cabramatta & Liverpool, taking just under an hour from the city centre. Airport & East Hills Line also goes to some South West suburbs such as Padstow and Revesby.
- Once a place avoided by locals due to crime, Cabramatta has been transformed in recent years into a vibrant Vietnamese and Chinese community. In a suburb where Vietnamese-born residents outnumber those born in Australia, there are plenty of authentic Vietnamese, Thai and Chinese restaurants, Asian groceries and a great atmosphere with locals selling home produce on the footpaths along the shopping districts.
- Bankstown is an interesting split of cultures, with Lebanese and Vietnamese shops dominating the area. Try and figure out which side of the train tracks you're on. The suburb and its neighbours like Punchbowl and Lakemba are often in the news for shootings, although much of it is gang-related and don't involve passers-by.
- Campsie Food Festival
- The Cabramatta Moon Festival is held every year on the weekend of the spring equinox (generally in September), during which the suburb welcomes over 90,000 visitors and celebrates with moon cakes, lion dances and fireworks.
The suburbs of Bankstown and Cabramatta have many Asian style shops opening onto the main streets running through the town. The centres around the station have a market feel are easily accessed from the respective stations.
Bankstown also has the large shopping mall experience, with Centro Bankstown just a short distance away. There's a free shuttle bus 950 that loops every twenty minutes around the suburb from the train station to the mall.
There are many stores in Cabramatta that import Vietnamese products.
The south west of Sydney is home to a great many multicultural restaurants and while cheaper and generally better than those in the city, they can get equally busy during the weekends.
- Albee's Kitchen, 282 Beamish St, Campsie, ☎ . 10AM-10PM. Specialises in Malaysian cuisine. Recently renovated with an extended eating section behind the kitchen, and was formerly a total hole-in-the-wall restaurant that wouldn't have looked out out of place in Malaysia. It still is pretty cramped, but thankfully the food is as good as ever. Take your pick of dishes from the many pictures on the wall, though a must try is the deep-fried karipap as a starter. Their daily specials are also a good place to start, and Albee's is one of the few places selling assam fish head curry in Sydney. Other branch in Cabramatta. $10-30.
- Se Jong Korean BBQ Buffet, 8 London St, Campsie, ☎ . An all-you-can-eat Korean BBQ restaurant, with quite a wide selection of food. The lack of proper ventilation means the place can get pretty smoky, but it goes along with the dining experience as you grill your meat. The banchan (side dishes) are great too, so come with an empty stomach. It gets pretty busy during weekend evenings, and a booking may be best if you don't want to wait. $30.
- Dong Ba, 5/117 John Street, Cabramatta, ☎ . 8AM-8PM. Serves Bun Bo Hue, a spicy noodle soup, which is a change from the beef pho more commonly found all around Sydney. The noodles are springy and there's a generous portion of meat. There's another branch in Cabramatta at Park Road and one more in Bankstown. $11.
- Pho Tau Bay, 12/117 John Street, Cabramatta. One of the best pho to be found in Sydney.
- Tan Viet Noodle House, 100 John St, Cabramatta. Crispy chicken, served with noodles or tomato rice.
- Bankstown Sports Club. This huge club, complete with imitation Italian piazza, rainforest, and train station and carriages, takes kitsch to a whole new level. Massive car park, walking distance from the station.
- Cafe 86, 4/29 John Street, Cabramatta. Try the Vietnamese iced coffee - thick, dark and very strong, sweetened with condensed milk and made with plenty of crushed ice.
If you entering Sydney from the south-west (Hume Highway) you can exit from the freeway, and take the old Hume Highway for a choice of motel accommodation that should be available on standby outside of peak times.
- El Toro Hotel & Motor Inn Liverpool NSW, Homepride Avenue, Liverpool, ☎ +61 2 9602 7077, 1800 810 027. With a bistro, three bars, a bottle shop and convention facilities (two function rooms appropriate for business meetings and conferences). Relax in the spa, or take a dip in the swimming pool. There is a guest laundry and plenty off street parking.
- Ibis Budget Casula. This renamed Formule 1 motel delivers what it says on the pack. A room, clean bed, tv, and a night's sleep.