Harry’s Cafe De-Wheels, long standing landmark across from the Naval Base in Woolomoloo (an inner-suburb of Sydney) has been the frequent of many a celebrity, and though we don’t count ourselves within their league, we none the less hope to enjoy the same trappings. After a late evening out, even McDonalds is no longer open and the bleary eyed party goers will hang out with the Taxi drivers at this national monument to grab a bit of Australian Tucker, the Aussie Meat-Pie. Of course, Harry’s will serve good ol’ Hot Dogs, but it is better known for its mashed potatoe and beans on a meat pie.
So what do Tongan Sydney Siders do for a good time? Well of course, there are the regular night spots where one can go to dance or drink, and there’s always the Rugby match to go to whether your playing or cheering on family and friends.
But there’s always the game arcades where one can submerse oneself in a different reality killing the bad guys, skiing the slopes, all without getting dirty or thirsty. Otherwise, you can always visit a friend and dig into another Australian tradition, the Aussie Barby (BBQ).
Sydney, and Brisbane’s weather offers so many things similar to Tonga that Tongans have come to love life in Australia’s Suburbia. Sydney’s Flemington Markets offers low prices on produce goods and the opportunity to socialise in a familiar environment to Tongatapu’s own Talamahu market (admittedly on a vastly different scale.) The warm weather accords for many BBQs, “kai tunu” reminiscent of times back home in Tonga, and the Australian beaches are just as readily accessible.
Mind you I think there is a subtle difference between the “manioke” roasted in Tonga as opposed to haka in Australia. Tongan Australians would also have to agree there seems to be a lot more meat variety available for the kai-tunu than would normally be available in Tonga. This quickly organised BBQ in the Western Suburbs of Sydney had a variety of meats, salads, breads. In Tonga, vegetables have only recently become an important part of the people’s diet in relation with the growing awareness for better diets.
Of course, the formal BBQ material is not so structured in Tonga where collecting branches starting a fire and then putting some material over it is more the ‘tunu’. And, BBQ in Australia usually means steak, chicken and sausages, with cooked potatoes or manioc while in Tonga it is more associated with puaka, sipi, and manioke tunu.
Tonga has had a very long association with Sydney, which has supplied many a missionary to Tonga and has been active in Tonga’s political climate from the encroachment of the papalangi way into Tonga.
Sundays and many things in Sydney are no different from as they would be in Tonga, except possibly the extensive use of cars and distances. Tongans flock to their Sunday church services, and throughout the week are actively involved in their congregational activities. The Sunday Schools have their White Sundays, the youth groups have their activities and the community is still bonded by their common ancestary whether they are of different faiths or different islands.
A range of Tongan language radio programming relays Tonga news from the islands to Australia, and keeps the many FOBs informed of their own local community activities. Sydney hosts an extensive network of Tongan communities.