Reading the Daily Telegraph you’d be forgiven for believing people of different faiths are locked in perpetual conflict. The community of Bonnyrigg in Sydney’s south-west is a shining exemplar of this not actually being the case.
I recently visited the suburb for an event held in Bibbys Place, a tiny cul-de-sac that is home to the Bonnyrigg Mosque, the Phap Bao Pagoda, the Vietnamese Buddhist Society of NSW, the Gracepoint Chinese Presbyterian Church and the Vietnamese Community Cultural Centre. Within a quick walk, you’ll also find Wat Phrayortkeo the Lao Buddhist Temple, the Parkside Church (an all-nations Christian church) and an Aboriginal Elders Garden with a bush tucker path.
Last Sunday, the whole community came together for an interfaith event called Lunch@Bibbys jointly put on by the Fairfield City Council and the Bonnyrigg Community, and supported by my friends at Taste Food Tours, who run great culture-meets-eats adventures into suburbs like this one.
Beyond opening up the various places of worship for tours, on the day there were cultural performances, children’s activities and plenty of great food.
We started with Curry Puffs ($2/3 pieces) and pan-fried Pork Dumplings ($1 each) from the Chinese Presbyterians.
The Lao Temple crew gave us Dried Beef ($3) and Lao Sausages ($3) on Sticky Rice ($2), served with a dipping sauce rich in lemongrass and chilli.
The Vietnamese community helpfully put out the Laotian fire with pretty Fruit Jellies ($3/6) made in various flower moulds.
Not one to be defeated by chilli, I returned to Laos for more - this time bright green Lao Coconut Pandan Jelly ($5) - easily my favourite salty-sweet bite of the say!
The event was a good reminder that cultural and religious harmony happens around us all the time, but tabloid newspapers rarely report on it, preferring to publicise and dramatise negative sentiment.