A generation ago, people arriving by train in Cabramatta would exit the station only to find themselves in a bustling open-air heroin market where gunfights erupted between gangs over turf.
Back in the 90’s Cabramatta was the epicentre of the Sydney drug trade that spawned an epidemic of associated crimes like burglary, shoplifting, bag snatching, holdups and prostitution. It was also the location of Australia’s first and only political assassination in 1994.
Local police at the time described the western Sydney suburb as a war zone.
However, through a mix of aggressive policing like the ‘New York style’ police blitz known as Operation Puccini, the hard work of residents and some government intervention, Cabramatta underwent a stark transformation. It is now a lively area renowned as a destination for some of Sydney’s best Vietnamese food.
A sign of the times is a new development from Cabra-Vale Diggers that includes new bowling greens, clubhouse and a range of extended amenities including a four-star Novotel Hotel.
Stage 1 of the club development will see the demolition of the old police station at 1 Bartley Street which was the areas ground zero for addressing and implementing many of the initiatives which rescued and revived the area.
On Thursday 30 August 2018 Cabra-Vale Diggers hosted a lunchtime event for around 40 police officers, past and present, who served at the station – a place that housed thousands of stories and a million memories of a turbulent time in the community’s history. The Club presented a framed brick from the old building to the area command to be displayed in the current police station.