Hurstville, 16 kilometres south-west of the CBD, occupies a unique spot on Sydney’s demographic map.
With more than half of its residents reporting Chinese ancestry, it is the only suburb across all of NSW where one community of non-English migrants outnumbers everyone else combined.
Based on figures from the last census, 52.5 per cent of Hurstville’s population reported their heritage as Chinese. Other suburbs came close – Burwood (41 per cent), Eastwood (36.5 per cent) and Haymarket (36 per cent) – but none tipped the scales past halfway.
Migrants of most nations congregate in cities as a way of finding support in a new land and as a means of preserving culture. Sydney’s Chinese population is typical in that way.
Across Greater Sydney that behaviour has produced clusters on both sides of the Harbour Bridge and dense, if isolated, populations stretch from the city centre as far west as Cabramatta.
According to the census, which asked people to report two responses for ancestry – one per parent – barely a suburb emerges without some component of Chinese ancestry.
And what of those rare gaps, such as Rookwood?
There may well be thousands of Chinese migrants at Rookwood, but not one filled out the 2011 census. It’s the cemetery.
By Conrad Walters
Sydney Morning Herald