Southwestern Sydney is a 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.
The southwest of Sydney is mostly off the beaten tourist track. The area constitutes the main road into Sydney from Melbourne and Canberra, and cheap roadside accommodation with parking is available in motels where you can keep your 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.
- Cabramatta is 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 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.
- Fairfield is an ethnic enclave of Assyrian Christians. Around the start of the 20th century the area had a population of 2,500 people and with fertile soils, which produced crops for distribution in Sydney. During the mid to late 1980s, an influx of Assyrians fled Iraq and settled in Fairfield, making it the most popular settlement for Assyrians, and this helped shaped the community and vibe of the commercial area.
- Liverpool is an administrative centre of the southwest.
For more than 30,000 years, Aboriginal people from the Cabrogal-Gandangara tribe have lived in Sydney's southwest.
The southwest of Sydney is warmer and drier than Sydney CBD in the summer because of its inland location, where temperatures may soar to 40 °C for a few days, but usually hover in the early 30s. Winter nights are particularly cooler.
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 southwest 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 southwest 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 T3 line winds its way past Bankstown on to Cabramatta and Liverpool. It takes just under an hour to get to Liverpool from the city centre. The T8 South Line also goes to some South West suburbs such as Padstow and Revesby.
The City Connect Bus Service[dead link] is a free bus service that operates in a portion of Southwestern Sydney.
- Brown Route: Operates on Mondays and runs between Cabramatta, Canley Vale and Canley Heights.
- Pink Route: Operates on Wednesdays and runs between Fairfield, Fairfield West, Cabramatta West, Cabramatta and Canley Heights.
- Orange Route: Operates on Thursdays-Fridays and runs between Fairfield, Fairfield Heights, Villawood and Carramar.
- Blue Route: Operates on Saturdays and runs between Fairfield West, Prairiewood Leisure Centre, Fairfield Showground, Fairfield Hospital and Villawood.
- 1 Chipping Norton Lake. Sydney's largest undammed artificial lake, Chipping Norton Lake is surrounded by beautiful parks, picnic facilities and play equipment. There are a number of good walkways, such as the Lake Moore Walk starting at Chauvel Park which takes an easy path along the lake foreshore.
- 2 Fairfield City Museum & Gallery, 634 The Horsley Dr, Smithfield, ☏ +61 2 9725 0190. Tu-F 10AM-4PM Sa 10AM-3PM. It showcases the diverse ethnic heritage of Fairfield City with an all-embracing program of exhibitions and activities catering for the community.
- Sugarloaf Ridge and Moonrise Lookout, Abbotsbury. These are the panoramic picnic spots and lookout areas within the Western Sydney Parklands.
- Bland's Oak, Carramar. A live oak tree that was seeded in the late 1830s. It is one of the largest in Sydney
- Our Lady of Victories Catholic Parish. A historical Catholic church.
- Assyrian Genocide Monument, Bonnyrigg. An Assyrian genocide memorial.
- 3 Lions Lookout. A park near Elizabeth Drive in Mount Pritchard that provides panoramic views of Sydney.
- Fairfield Park, Fairfield. A large park which features natural bushland, walks and a creek bridge.
- 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.
- Fairfield Showground – A multi-purpose venue popular for multicultural festivals, horse racing, carnivals, markets and club meets attracting as many as 20,000 people.
- Fairfield Leisure Centre – The centre includes a gymnasium, aerobics studio, steam room, crèche, 25-m heated indoor swimming pool, 50-m outdoor swimming pool, baby pool, Aqua Play Water Park, and multi-purpose indoor sports court.
- Aquatopia Water Park – features 10-m and 20-m high slides, the adventure aqua tower, a toddlers pool, Fishpipe and the Wave Rider.
- TreeTops Adventure. A high ropes course up in the tree tops, where participants slide down, move from tree to tree on suspension bridges and enjoy 115 challenges
- Sydney International Equestrian Centre – Built for the Sydney 2000 Olympic and Paralympic Games, it is a world-class event venue set on 96 hectares of rural parkland.
- Calmsley Hill City Farm – A farm based attraction where children and adults can enjoy a variety of exciting shows and exhibits.
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 Bankstown Central just a short distance away.
There are many stores in Cabramatta that import Vietnamese products.
- Stockland Wetherill Park, 561-583 Polding St, Wetherill Park.
- Neeta City. The largest shopping mall in Fairfield, which features a Big W, Woolworths and a large food court.
- Fairfield Forum. Second largest shopping centre in Fairfield, featuring a Kmart, Coles and outdoor cafes
- Fairfield Chase. A small shopping mall in Smart Street (but can also be entered from Ware Street).
The southwest 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.
- 1 Albee's Kitchen, 282 Beamish St, Campsie, ☏ +61 2 9718-8302. 10AM-10PM. Specialises in Malaysian cuisine. It used to be a total hole-in-the-wall restaurant that wouldn't have looked out out of place in Malaysia, but has been renovated and expanded. It still is pretty cramped, but 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.
- 2 Se Jong Korean BBQ Buffet, 8 London St, Campsie, ☏ +61 2 9787-7126. 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.
- 3 Dong Ba, 5/117 John Street, Cabramatta, ☏ +61 2 9723-0336. 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.
- 4 Pho Tau Bay, 12/117 John Street, Cabramatta. One of the best pho to be found in Sydney.
- 5 Tan Viet Noodle House, 100 John St, Cabramatta. Crispy chicken, served with noodles or tomato rice.
Top restaurants in the area include:
- La Tratt (Italian)
- Candelori's (Italian)
- Montagne (French)
- Matsuya (Japanese)
Iraqi, Assyrian, Vietnamese and Thai-based restaurants are found sporadically in the above, aforementioned streets. Assyrian and Iraqi based restaurants include foods such as kebab, pacha (boiled cow or sheep parts), bomya (okra stew) and shawarma.
- 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.
- Cambridge Tavern, Alan Street, Fairfield.
- Fairfield Hotel, The Crescent, Fairfield (opposite the train station).
- Smithfield Tavern, The Horsley Drive, Smithfield.
Nineveh Club[dead link] and Assyrian Sports & Cultural Club are both popular ethnic clubs in Fairfield. Other clubs include:
- Fairfield RSL, 14 Anzac Ave, ☏ +61 2 9727 5000.
- Smithfield RSL, 88 Smithfield Rd, ☏ +61 2 9604 4411.
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. The above drinking areas are also hotels.
- Brown Jug Inn Hotel, Stanbrook St, Fairfield Heights.
- The Crescent Hotel (opposite the railway station).
- 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.