Cabramatta Day Tours

2017 & 2018 Fabric Tours of Cabramatta

Cabra Coffee Shop - Meeting Place
Cabra Coffee Shop - Meeting Place
Cabramatta Freedom Plaza Gate
Cabramatta Freedom Plaza Gate
Hung Thanh
Hung Thanh
Tuong Hung
Tuong Hung
Inside Fabrics
Inside Fabrics
Du Thanh
Du Thanh
Fresh Sugar Cane Juice
Fresh Sugar Cane Juice
Hong Thai
Hong Thai
My Hung
My Hung
Hai Ha
Hai Ha
Van Hung
Van Hung

A taste of Vietnam, without the jet-lag!

By Sue Neall

2017 ESCORTED TOURS - Saturday 25th November 2017

2018 ESCORTED TOURS - Saturday 23rd June & 27th Oct 2018

For the past 18 years, I have been leading groups of sewing enthusiasts on an exciting fabric and food tour of Vietnam…..

but no one needs their passport!

Cabramatta is the answer and they can experience all the highlights in just a single day.

Cabramatta, in Sydney’s south-west, has become a new home for Vietnamese families settling in Australia. Many of them have left behind the troubles of the past and started a new life here and as happy as they are to be here, we are happy to welcome them. The Vietnamese have brought with them the best of an ancient culture and you can be the lucky visitor that enjoys it all.

I follow a well trodden, tried & true, track, with my ladies and although occasionally a favorite fabric shop or restaurant closes, another quickly takes its place. At present there are ten fabric shops in an easy three block, flat walk, in Cabramatta itself and three thread, zipper and haberdashery shops in the adjacent suburb of Canley Vale. Interspersed with all these fabulous fabric havens are a myriad of taste sensations to savor and keep up your energy levels, for the BIG SHOP!

Let’s start…..

10am – Ah! It must be coffee time.

We always meet at the coffee shop and this is a must. Fabulous coffee is a great way to gather the girls and start the day and of course it is in sight of our first two fabric shops.

CABRA is a small coffee outlet with a nice grouping of tables, chairs and new BLUE umbrellas on the pavement and it’s a great place to sit and look at the impressive entrance gates to ‘Freedom Plaza’. At 1/50A Park Road it’s almost on the corner of Park and Arthur Streets. Within sight of the coffee shop are our first two stops.

Hung Thanh 46 Park Road, Cabramatta

As with all the shops that you will visit, fabric spills out onto the street and into the side alley. The greatest bargains of the day are always out the front and start from as little as $3 to $4 per metre. I always find Hung Thanhs great for stretch fashion knits and at $4 to $5 per metre I add to my stash every visit. Knits are always in the alley, along with an excellent selection of novelty print polar fleece. Inside you will find poly/satins and organzas, crepe-de-chine and suitings.

Tuong Hung 48 Park Road

Right next door you will find another ‘Aladdin’s Cave’ with the same low prices and huge stocks of cottons, stretch-wovens, corduroy, fleecys and knits. Inside is the place to go if you have dancing costumes on your ‘to do’ list. Lycra and sequins, fluro, iridescent and holographic – it’s all there.

It’s time to walk a little. Come out of Tuong Hung and turn to the right and then right again at Hughes Street. The two newest fabric outlets are at the end of Hughes Street, nearest the railway.

"No Name Yet!" Shop 1, Thanh Thai Shop 3/2 & Tuong Hung Shop 4 Hughes Street

After a visit to these "cheap and cheery" shops, retrace your steps, to the coffee shop and continue to walk through the Welcome Gate and into Freedom Plaza. This pedestrian mall is bordered by video, music, food and frock shops but the interesting places to keep your eyes open for are the street vendors. Illegal in any other part of Sydney they seem right at home in Cabramatta (and they are). Little parcels of freshly cooked rice wrapped in banana leaves and take-away containers filled with a myriad of home-cooked soups and glutinous desserts or neat little lunch packs, all look interesting, different and tempting. But don’t eat yet! There’s more to come…

Walk the short block to the end of Freedom Plaza and turn to the right into John Street, the main street. Continue along this side of the street until you reach –

Du Thanh Fabrics 95 John Street

This shop specializes in curtain and home decorating fabrics with a huge selection of sheers and laces at great prices. But it is also the best place in town for zips; regular, invisible, open-end and continuous – all at $2 each.

At this point my tummy usually says “lunch time”. So I turn my group right around and head back to Freedom Plaza. The BKK Supermarket sign is where we are heading, on the left side of the plaza, and behind this very misleading signage is a great food court. There are small shops selling every type of Vietnamese dish, fresh fruits and deserts, vegetarian, freshly prepared, while you wait, or the ‘ready-to-run bay-marie selections. If this is your first adventure to Cabramatta, have a good look around, at all the options. There will be lots of dishes that you may not have seen before and loads of things to try. Be brave….have a go. You’ll be surprised at the combinations of fabulous new tastes although the bright colours may not be what you’re used to.

However, if a big lunch is not for you simply stay on John Street and try an iced glass of sugar cane juice or a great variety of fruit. Rambutans, star fruit, mangosteens and chestnuts are displayed amongst the more recognizable strawberries, pineapples and mandarins. I recommend you try them all!

Refreshed and regrouped we head back along John Street, the way we had already travelled. Stop at the end of the first block, cross the road and work the other side. Only five fabric shops to go.

Hong Thai Fabric Fashion 96a John Street

All the shops on this side of John Street are long and thin. The fabrics are packed to the rafters and you need to think thin to work your way through the aisle. But it is well worth it. Hong Thai sells a huge selection of day wear, lycras, Chinese silk brocades, dance and aerobic wear and an extensive collection of broderie anglais collars, lace inserts, frog closures, laces, braids, fringing, beaded fringing, elastics, buttons and general haby.

My Hung 94a John Street

You don’t need to travel far to enter My Hung, right next door. My Hung has expanded to open fabric shops in Hurstville, Parramatta, Penrith and Sydney city. From the street it looks as though they offer yet another assortment of well priced cottons and knits but enter this store and you will find exceptional quality evening fabrics, laces and ribbons. If you can’t find what you are looking for or have a colour to match just ask the experienced staff as there is often something in storage or hidden behind all the other fabrics and believe me, the owners know every piece of cloth.

Hai Ha Fabrics 56 John Street

Hai Ha has been a well known name amongst the Vietnamese business community for nearly 30 years. 

Van Hung Fabrics 46 John Street

Our last fabric stop in Cabramatta is a bridal specialist and hosts a superb array of fabrics and all the trims, haby and accessories for brides and all the members of the bridal party. They also have a comprehensive list of dressmakers for those with little time or those daunted by the whole bridal extravaganza.

If you haven’t exhausted either yourself or your bank account by now then you might like to pop back into your car or take the train the one stop to Canley Vale. There are three stores very close together selling sewing and overlocking thread, zippers, elastic, piping cord, tape, Velcro, buttons, shoulder pads, interlining and sewing machine spare parts.

Polyfield P/L 2/33 Canley Vale Road, Canley Vale

Sells all the above plus Simons Boiler Irons and a fabulous product called ‘Sprayway 830 Spot Lifter’. It removes grease and oil stains from fabric and leaves no residue.

Ming On Trading Co. 21 Canley Vale Road and Win On Trading – 1/12 Canley Vale Road

Both sell all of the above and have rows and rows, floor to ceiling of shelves stocked with every possible colour of overlocking thread. Small and large spools sell from as little as $2 per spool.

WOW! What a day and what a tour. A taste of South-East Asia, without leaving home. It doesn’t get any better than that….ENJOY.