Words || James Booth
I walk home from most of my nights out.
The walk is approximately a 20-30 minute walk down Sunnyholt Rd, and usually features me singing along to music. Once, I took my shoes off and ran barefoot in the rain; another time, I walked home just as the sun was coming up. On yet another late night stroll, I turned my music off and just stared up into the star filled sky.
Regardless of myspeed or weather, the one consistency is that I make the journey on foot. Past the small creek where I once saw a Grey Heron, adjacent to the abandoned car park of what was once Australiaís biggest indoor market, across the road at the tree where I vomited once, and a right turn into my suburban home in Parklea.
Parklea really doesnít have much to offer the world in terms of amenities, but we do have Parklea Correctional Centre AND Parklea Markets (even if the latter is about to be knocked down and likely transformed into apartments). In fact, 2016’s liveable Sydney’s report listing Parklea as the 554th most liveable Sydney suburb, out of a total of 555 suburbs.
So what makes me want to celebrate a suburb which came second last in a ranked list of suburbs?
Firstly, I am genuinely convinced that it scored so low because the list was created by a people who have never even set foot in Western Sydney. And, secondly, because this little suburb has been my charming home for the better part of two years.
My family moved to Parklea after spending the two years prior living in Stanhope Gardens, which was a little farther west than our previous (now sold) family home of 11 years in Kellyville. I’m not going to lie, I began this journey furious that we’d live EVEN FARTHER away from the inner west and city. I had spent years growing up in the Hills District, and could not imagine stepping foot into Official Western Sydney territory. However, in hindsight, I’m very aware that most of this sentiment came from social conditioning of how dangerous it really is to live in Western Sydney.
The vibe of Parklea is not too different to that of the Hills District I’d grown up in; I still wave to my neighbours when I pass them, I walk barefoot to the local shops and watch as the aunties and uncles look at me with fear, there is a bus stop about 5 minutes from my home. I’ve found myself loving the suburb so much, even loving how far removed it is from the bustling city clubs and events I go to.
In fact, I almost think my favourite part of a night out is the long journey and walk home, where I can reflect on the night that was or even get a little nap.
Perhaps what I love the most about living in suburbia is the amount of wild birds I get to see and interact with. Whole flocks of cockatoos or corellas, families of ravens, all the lorikeets that roost above the Blacktown Leisure Centreís car park each evening. I even appreciate the magpies that swooped me at the local park.
Parklea has managed to charm me, not because it is the most beautiful suburb I’ve ever seen, but because it has accepted my family and allowed us an opportunity to form a sense of home again. It may take me three buses to get to Macquarie Uni sometimes, and sure, I sometimes have to walk really far to get home. But regardless of how out of the way it seems at times, it has captured my heart. I will forever look fondly on the years I’ve spent living here.