Aussie Book Review: On Western Sydney by Westside Publications

On Western Sydney On Western Sydney (edited) by Michael Mohammed Ahmad and Felicity Castagna


 Review copy provided by BYDS/ Westside Publications

 Westside Publications, September 2012

 Synopsis- On Western Sydney is the second and final edition of Westside New Series. It is a collection of stories that span from the sidewalks of Belmore to the streets of Bankstown to the roads across the Great Western Highway. It is a unique and honest depiction of Sydney’s infamous western suburbs from the people that live and breathe the region. Discover the places, revel in the absurdity, shy away from the dark side, feel the voice and explore the stories… On Western Sydney.

 Review-  Living and working in (South) West Sydney, I experience first-hand the prejudice and stereotypes portrayed of the residents of this region by the general public, the media and those living in higher socioeconomic areas. Western Sydney is characterised by the working class and is a multicultural, multilingual and diverse community.

Bankstown Youth Development Services (BYDS) and the writers involved with Westside Publications hope to set the record straight. In their latest publication, On Western Sydney, a group of young, local writers provide insight into their experience of this distinct region of Sydney. Some of the writers I recognised from a recent literary event, Moving People (read my event review here), held by BYDS and the Sydney Writer’s Festival a couple of months back. Many of the contributors of this collected works are young people of Indigenous, culturally and linguistically diverse and refugee backgrounds.

On Western Sydney is a collection of stories, poems and insights about living, working and moving in and out of Western Sydney. It also explores the experience of young Australians who are heavily influenced (and at times judged) by their country of origin, their religion and language.

I really enjoyed the snippets about travelling on the train lines in the West (we always get the dodgy trains out here compared to northern Sydney!) by Amanda Yeo and Susie Ahmad and it made me reflect on some of my own odd, funny or scary public transport experiences.

The photos of the abandoned homes in the Minto Housing Commission estate were both confronting and sad, particularly since it’s an area I’m familiar with.

Miran Hosny discusses the concepts of weight and marriage within family, I could relate to Samantha Hogg’s prose titled ‘writer’, Rebecca Landon’s poems ‘Stages of Fiona’ were moving, and I laughed out loud at every nonsensical piece written by Nitin Vengurlekar.

On Western Sydney is a beautifully compiled and innovative collection of works written by the talented young voices of Sydney’s West. Check out the BYDS website to see what programs and support they provide to young artists in the area. They also have Three Novelettes (see my review) which can be read for free online.

Overall Rating


“I loved this book!”

On Western Sydney can be purchased via the BYDS website.


  • Thanks for this review, I can’t wait to get a copy!
    As someone also from Southwest Sydney, I sometimes get annoyed by the way the ‘West’ and ‘South-West’ of Sydney are conflated. There are such different populations in those areas, to my mind. On the other hand, there are the commonalities (like those damn trains and that damn commute into the CBD and North…) that bind us.

    Well done to the editors and people from Westside for getting this material ‘out there’ 🙂

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