Waterborne: Vietnamese Australians and river environments in Vietnam and Sydney

Main Article Content

Allison Cadzow
Denis Byrne
Heather Goodall


Vietnamese Australians who arrived in Australia as refugees since the 1970s and later as migrants, have developed complex relationships of remembering, knowing and belonging to environments in Vietnam and Sydney. Water was a frequent point of reference in our interviews with Vietnamese people in Sydney, and their relationships with water are used in this article to explore interviewees’ associations with places. The article focuses on cultural knowledge of environments, which people bring with them, such as their connections with rivers and oceans, central to both memories of place and the histories of Vietnam. These memories also change with return visits and experiences between these places. Vietnamese refugees’ experiences of escape and trauma coming across oceans from Vietnam also influence subsequent relationships with place. Finally, relationships with Sydney parks and urban waterways are explored by examining popular places for family and community get-togethers along Georges River, located near where many Sydney Vietnamese people live. These have become key places in making Sydney home for Vietnamese people. The article considers how Vietnamese Australian cultural knowledge of place could be shared and acknowledged by park managers and used in park interpretation.

Article Details

Author Biographies

Allison Cadzow, University of Technology, Sydney

Research Associate, Georges River Project

Denis Byrne, NSW Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water

Manager, Cultural Heritage Research Unit, DECCW

Heather Goodall, University of Technology, Sydney

Associate Professor, Humanities and social sciences at UTS


Blokland, Talja. (2001) Bricks, Mortar, Memories: Neighbourhood and Networks in Collective Acts of Remembering. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research 25 (2):268-280. https://doi.org/10.1111/1468-2427.00311

Biggs, David (2005) 'Managing a rebel landscape: conservation, pioneers and the revolutionary past in the U Minh forest Vietnam', Environmental History, v10, issue 3, [accessed 10 Jan 2006] Http://www.historycooperative.org/journals/eh/10.3/biggs.html

Byrne, Denis, Goodall, Heather, Wearing, Stephen and Cadzow, Allison (2006) Enchanted Parklands? Australian Geographer 37 (1) 103-115. https://doi.org/10.1080/00049180500512002

Cadzow, Allison and Goodall, Heather. (2006) Gold and Silver: Vietnamese migration and relationships with nature in Sydney and Vietnam, UTS, Department of Environment and Conservation NSW, Migration Heritage Centre NSW http://www.migrationheritage.nsw.gov.au/exhibitions/goldandsilver/

Can, Le Than and Quy, Vo (1994) Vietnam: Environmental issues and possible solutions, Asian Journal of Environmental Management, 2 (2) 69-77.

Carroll, Tim, ed. (2001) Oral history of Bankstown. Bankstown Youth Development Service.

Cuc, Le Trong, (1999) Vietnamese traditional cultural concepts of human relations with the natural environment. Asian Geographer: a Geographical Journal on Asia and the Pacific Rim Special Issue: Eco-Consciousness in Asia and the Pacific. 18 (1-2)

Cuc, Le Trong, (1992) Homegrown advantages, Ceres 138 (November-December):27-30.

Dinh, Trong Hieu (2003) Social sciences and biodiversity - connections between the global the local in Viet Nam. International Social Science Journal 55 (4):577-

Department of Environment and Conservation NSW (2004) The Environment and Ethnic Communities in 2004 Community Profile: Vietnamese. Sydney: DEC.

Di Gregorio, Michael, Rambo, Terry.A and Yanagisawa, Masayuki (2003) Clean, Green and Beautiful: Environment and Development under the Renovation Economy, in Postwar Vietnam: Dynamics of a Transforming Society (ed) H. V. Luong. New York, Oxford, Singapore

Fairfield City Museum & Gallery (2004) Culture & Cultivation: backyards in Fairfield, Fairfield Community Museum & Gallery.

Federation of Ethnic Communities' Councils of Australia for Recfish Australia (1997) We Fish for the Future: Recreational Fishing and People of Indo-Chinese Background. Canberra: Department of the Environment.

Floyd, M. (1999) Race Ethnicity and Use of the National Park System, Social Science Research Review, pp1-24.

Foon-Lee, Siou, 2002 in 'Fortune Selling', Real Estate section Daily Telegraph, 7 September 2002, http://www.fengshui-innovations.com.au/news-aarticles/media-articles/43-real-estate.html [viewed 6 June 2009].

Gobster, P. (2002) Managing Urban Parks for a Racially and Ethnically Diverse Clientle' Leisure Sciences, 24, pp 143-159. https://doi.org/10.1080/01490400252900121

Goodall, H., Wearing, S, Byrne D and Cadzow A., (2006) 'Fishing the Georges River: cultural diversity and urban environments' in Everyday Multiculturalism, (eds) Amanda Wise and Selvaraj Velayutham, Palgrave Macmillan: Hampshire UK.

Goodall, Heather, Wearing, Stephen, Byrne, Denis and Kijas, Jo (2004) Recognising Cultural Diversity: the Georges River Project in South-West Sydney. In Sustainability and Social Science, (eds) E. Katz and H. Cheney, Canberra: CSIRO.

Goodall, Heather (2006) Exclusion and Re-emplacement; Tensions around protected areas in Australia and South East Asia, Conservation and Society 4 (3),383-395 http://www.conservationandsociety.org/vol-4-3-06.html

Graham, Sonia and Connell, John (2006) Nurturing relationships: the gardens of Greek and Vietnamese migrants in Marrickville, Sydney, Australian Geographer, 37 (3) pp375-393 Nov. https://doi.org/10.1080/00049180600954799

Hawthorne, Lesley (1982) Refugee: the Vietnamese Experience. Melbourne: OUP.

Head, Lesley, Muir, Pat and Hampel, Eva (2004) Australian backyard gardens and the journey of migration, Geographical Review 94 (3): 326-347. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1931-0846.2004.tb00176.x

Huynh, Kim (2007) Where the Sea Takes us: A Vietnamese Australian Story, Harper Collins.

Kenworthy-Teather, Elizabeth, and Chun Shing Chow (2000) The Geographer and the Fengshui Practitioner: so close and yet so far apart? Australian Geographer 31 (3) 309-332. https://doi.org/10.1080/713612250

Kleinen, John, 2007, "Stealing from the Gods" Fisheries and local use of natural resources in Vietnam 1800-2000', in Greg Bankoff and Peter Boomgaard, A History of Natural resources in Asia: the wealth of nature, Basingstoke, Palgrave McMillan.

Levett, Connie, (2009) Trauma survivors face their fears in the shallow end. Sydney Morning Herald, 26 January.

Lam, Andrew, 2005, Talks about the Fall of Saigon and discussion led by Dai Le, Liverpool Regional Museum, 30 April 2005.

Lip, Evelyn (1997) What is Feng Shui? London: Academy editions.

Low, Setha (2005) Rethinking urban parks: public space and cultural diversity Texas: Texas University Press.

Madzumar, Sanjoy., Sharmpa Mazumdar, Faye Docuyanan, and Colette M. McLaughlin (2000) Creating a Sense of Place: The Vietnamese- Americans and Little Saigon. Journal of Environmental Psychology 20, 319 – 333. https://doi.org/10.1006/jevp.2000.0170

McElwee, Pam (2001) Parks or people: exploring alternative explanation for protected area development in Vietnam, Yale University [accessed 10 January 2006] http://research.yale.edu/CCR/environment/papers/mcelwee.pdf

McElwee, Pam. (2006) Displacement and Relocation Redux: stories from South East Asia, Conservation and Society, 4 (3) Sept. http://www.conservationandsociety.org/vol-4-3-06.html

Marafa, Larwal (2003) Integrating Natural and Cultural Heritage: the advantage of Feng shui landscape resources, International Journal of Heritage Studies, 9(4) 307-323. https://doi.org/10.1080/1352725022000155054

Ngoc, Huu (2004) Wandering through Vietnamese Culture, fourth edition, first published 1995, HaNoi: The Gioi Publishers.

Nguyen, Chau Huynh, Nathalie (2005) Voyage of Hope: Vietnamese Australian Women's Narratives, Melbourne: Common Ground.

Nguyen Ngoc Bich (ed and trans) (1975) (trans with Burton Raffel and WS Merwin), A Thousand Years of Vietnamese Poetry, Alfred A Knopf, New York.

Nguyen, Pauline (2007) Secrets of the Red Lantern: Stories and Vietnamese Recipes from the Heart, Murdoch Books: Millers Point.

Nguyen, T. H., and King, Brian and L.Turner (2003) Travel behaviour and migrant cultures: the Vietnamese in Australia, Tourism Culture and Communication, 4 (2) Jan, pp 95-107. https://doi.org/10.3727/109830403108750849

Noble, Greg, 2009, Everyday Cosmopolitanism and the labour of Intercultural Community, in Everyday Multiculturalism eds Amanda Wise and Selvaraj Velayyutham, Palgrave Macmillan, London.

Pham, Thi Tuong Vi, and Terry A Rambo. (2003) Environmental Consciousness: the case of Vietnam, Journal of Southeast Asian Studies 41 (1) 76-100.

Rishbeth, Clare (2001) Ethnic Minority Groups and the design of public open space, Landscape Research, 26 (4) 351-366. https://doi.org/10.1080/01426390120090148

Riley, Robert (1992) Attachment to the Ordinary Landscape. In Place Attachment (ed) A. Irwin and S. Low: Plenum Press, New York. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4684-8753-4_2

Rugendyke, Barbara and Nguyen Thi Son (2005) Conservation costs: nature based tourism as development at Cuc Phuong National Park, Vietnam. Asia Pacific Viewpoint 46 (2) 185-200. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-8373.2005.00265.x

Sterling, Eleanor. J., Martha. M. Hurley, and Le Duc Minh (2006) Vietnam: a natural history. New Haven, London: Yale University Press.

Sowerwine, Jennifer (2004) The political ecology of Dao (Yao) landscape transformations: Territory, gender, and livelihood politics in highland Vietnam, PhD thesis, University of California, Berkeley.

Starr, Paul (1981)Troubled waters: Vietnamese Fisherfolk on Americas Gulf Coast. International Migration Review 15 (1-2) 226-238. https://doi.org/10.2307/2545339

Stodolska, Monika and Livengood, Jennifer (2004) Effects of discrimination and constraints on the behaviour of American Muslims post September 11 in America, Journal of Leisure Research, 36 (2) 183-8.

Strang, Veronica (2005) Common Sense: Water, sensory experience and the generation of meaning, Journal of Material Culture, 10 (1) 192-120. https://doi.org/10.1177/1359183505050096

Strang, Veronica (2004) The Meaning of Water, Berg.

Thomas, Mandy (2002) Moving Landscapes: National Parks and the Vietnamese Experience (ed) by D.Byrne, Studies in the Construction of Open Space. Sydney: NPWS.

Thomas, Mandy (2004) Transitions in taster in Vietnam and the Diaspora, Australian Journal of Anthropology, 15 (1) 54-67. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1835-9310.2004.tb00365.x

Thomas, Mandy 2005,'Vietnamese in Australia', Encyclopedia of Diasporas: immigrant and refugee cultures around the world, eds Melvin Ember, Carol Ember and Ian Skoggard, v2, Springer, New York. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-0-387-29904-4_116

Thomas, Mandy 1999, Dreams in the Shadows: Vietnamese Australian lives in transition, Sydney, Allen & Unwin.

Trinh, L.N.; Watson, J.W.; Hue N.N., De N.N.; Minh N.V., Chu, P.; Sthapit B.R, Eyzaguirre P.B. (2003) Agrobiodiversity conservation and development in Vietnamese home gardens, Agriculture Ecosystems and Environment, 97 (1-3) July, 317-344. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0167-8809(02)00228-1

Viviani, Nancy. (1984) The Long Journey: Vietnamese Migration and Settlement in Australia, MUP, Melbourne.

Viviani, Nancy. (1996) The Indo Chinese in Australia 1975-1995: From Burnt Boats to Barbeques, Oxford University Press, Melbourne.

Waitt, Gordon (2003) A Place for the Buddha in Wollongong New South Wales? Territorial rules in the place making of sacred spaces. Australian Geographer 34 (2) 223-238. https://doi.org/10.1080/00049180301733

Yoon, Hong-Key (1980) The image of nature in geomancy, Geojournal 4 (4) 341-348. https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00219581

Yuanfang, Shen, (2001) Dragon Seed in the Antipodes: Chinese Australian Autobiographies, Melbourne, MUP.