Sydney is a city made for postcards. Its gorgeous harbour is adorned by a giant steel arch bridge and an eggshell opera house. Locals affectionately refer to the bridge (which carries motor vehicles, trains, pedestrians and bicycles) as the Coat Hanger. The harbour has enough water to allow tens of thousands to travel by ferry. Each New Year’s Eve, the Coat Hanger forms the backdrop to a spectacular multimillion dollar fireworks display. Within the city’s greater metropolitan area are some of the world’s finest beaches, at least three national parks and a host of rivers.
And over a hundred mosques. Perhaps the best known of these is located deep in the geographical heart of greater Sydney. The Auburn Gallipoli Mosque combines a stereotypically Australian name with an architecture perhaps better suited to the Ottoman Europe. It is named in honour of the peninsula where Turks, Australian and New Zealand troops (the latter known as ANZACs) met in battle for the first and last time during the First World War. The Turks were led by one Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. The ANZACs were misled by their British commanders into a colossal defeat. Last year, 2015, marked a century since that fateful conflict. Australians gathered on the Gallipoli Peninsula in Turkey and at memorials across Australia. New Zealanders did the same, though Aussies tend to forget the contribution their Kiwi cousins made at that battle. In the fog of war, Australia and the new Republic of Turkey forged a lasting friendship. Celibolu (the uncorrupted version of the place’s name) is a place of secular sacredness, a battleground where Australians celebrate a military prowess born in crushing defeat, not to mention a tendency to fight other people’s battles.